Lisa Flint burst onto the Australian running scene last October, running 2:34.08 to win the Melbourne Marathon and secure a Commonwealth Games “A” Qualifier. This was a more than 13 minute personal best for the 24-year old who credits watching Kerryn McCann win the Commonwealth Games Marathon in 2006 with her inspiration to start running. She has since gone on to represent Australia at the Ekiden Relay in November and came 5th in The Great Australian Run held in the same month. Originally from Queensland, she now lives in Newcastle, NSW and is coached by World Championships and Commonwealth Games Marathon Representative Scott Westcott. Cindy King caught up with her as she drove back from training at Falls Creek over the Christmas holidays.
You ran a Commonwealth Games A qualifier to win the 2009 Melbourne Marathon. Was this your goal? Tell us about the race.
Running a qualifier was definitely not my goal. I went into the race only because I wanted to run a marathon before 2009 was finished and just hoped to better my time from my last marathon (2:47:40 Sydney 2008). I felt very under-prepared going into the race. My longest training run in the lead up was only a shade over 2 hours. I hadn’t told anyone I was entering (my coach didn’t know and mum and dad were left out of the loop….)
Race day I felt really good from the start. The first 10km passed quickly and I stuck with the pre-race favourite (Satoko Uetani). I was really unsure of my fitness and afraid I’d blow up later, so was too scared to run any harder. I stuck with Satoko the whole way until the last 5km. I still felt great, but didn’t want to risk anything. It wasn’t until the end stages that I realised I still had plenty left, so I pushed a little harder. It was the strangest feeling to feel so good at the finish of a marathon.
I know that you have run Ekiden, The Great North Run, and Zatopek since then. How were those races?
Ekiden was a surprise; I only got the call about a week from departure. It was the best experience though. My first international event! It was a lot shorter than what I’d been training for, I learnt so much, and had a good run. There was a lot less pressure than I expected because it was a relay.The Great Australian Run I was really happy with. I was still a bit tired from coming back from Japan earlier that week. A bit tight and tired at the start, but came into my rhythm later on and just continued to feel stronger as the race went on. I ran faster than last years time, so I was happy.Zatopek was a disaster. From the fourth lap I just didn’t feel right. Very heavy and tired. It was my first 10km on the track and I think everything had caught up with me…someone put it “Finally! She’s cracked.” My goal changed to just finishing the race and not pulling out. I was upset at first with the time and the whole night in general. Now I’m looking at it as a learning experience. As an athlete you’re not invincible, you do need rest. Recovery is important, and you can’t do EVERYTHING!
What made you start running?
I was at Uni, studying Pharmacy. In 2006 I wasn’t doing any exercise at all. My dad and brother were pretty active. They were training for triathlons and the Gold Coast Half Marathon. I was sick of not doing anything, and was really unfit, so I started to join Dad’s social training group on Saturday mornings around Brisbane. I trained for the Mooloolaba Triathlon in 2007, and things just went from there. I loved the training, as well as the social life around tri’s and running. I joined a tri club at the University of Queensland and I’ve just kept going from there.
How hard is it to combine your running with your job as a pharmacist for the defence force?
It can be hard at times. In 2009 I moved around a bit for various training courses. I spent 5 months in East Sale, Victoria at the start of the year and another 2 months in Wagga Wagga, NSW…. My family all live in Brisbane, and I’m in Newcastle now. Moving around makes training interesting; I have to improvise sometimes, but I take it as an opportunity to explore new towns, so it’s kind of fun. Running around different small towns means I see aspects I wouldn’t normally see if I was just passing through.As well as this, being in Defence can be a bit more physically challenging than a normal Pharmacist’s job. Some phases we have been out marching with packs and digging sand bag pits as part of the training. I struggle with this as I’m on the lighter side weight wise but I think it must help make me a better/stronger runner. Overall, Defence is really supportive of my running. They have helped out in recent times to ensure I’m not moving so much and can get a bit more of a regular training program in. I couldn’t ask for anything more!
Who coaches you, and who are your training partners?
Scott Westcott is coaching me. I do my speed sessions with a few junior boys who are pretty fast track runners. (800 -5000m). They keep me pretty honest. Our long runs are generally with whoever wants to join in!
A number of runners, especially females, struggle with their weight and eating issues. Was this ever the case for you, and how are things now? What advice do you have for runners who worry about their diet and/or weight?
My training load is increasing a lot, and I’m struggling a bit with keeping weight on. I can feel I need to be a bit heavier for strength, so I’m starting to work with a Sports Nutritionist to get the balance right. It’s been a bit hard adjusting to this, though. Especially when I’m out with some non-running friends, I’ll get a bit self conscious if they’ve ordered a salad and I’m craving a big pasta meal after training.I’ve found you do need to be conscious of what you are eating. Definitely in female distance runners, we all seem to underestimate the amount of training we’re doing and the amount of food we need to eat to replace the energy we’ve used. It’s not worth being obsessed with losing weight. As a distance runner, I’m starting to realise the importance of being strong and having adequate energy in the body in reserve to run better races.
What is a typical training week for you?
SUN am RUN 1½ – 2½ hoursMON am GYM – Core Strength/Upper Body Weights 45mins Pm RUN 45minsTUES am RUN 40mins easy Pm RUN Grass Oval – (3mins hard/1min easy or similar)WED am RUN 1- 1½ hours Pm SWIM (2km) or 1 hour Recovery CycleTHURS am RUN 40 mins easy Pm RUN Track Session – (1km repeats or 400m repeats)FRI am RUN 50mins Tempo pm SWIM (1-2km)SAT am RUN 1hour or 3min/1min on/off session Pm GYM Core Strength/Weights 45mins
What are your goals for 2010 and beyond with regards to running?
Make the Australian team to run the Marathon at 2010 Commonwealth Games
Run a Half Marathon in 2010Compete in races overseas (Big City Marathons for 2011 and beyond!)Qualify for 2012 the OlympicsStay healthy, fit and happy with running
You are relatively new to the Australian running scene. What’s it like at the elite level? What is the funniest or strangest thing that happened at Falls? (that you can disclose….)
The elite level is no different to being at a recreational level. All the other girls are in the sport for the love of running, and everyone is friendly! It’s fun. The only difference is the amount of travel for races that I’m doing now. Weekends are often taken up flying to a different city just for a race. It’s also a bit surprising that race directors will pay for entry and accommodation for you to run in their race…. I’m still trying to pay for things sometimes.Things from Falls –
EVERY male runner runs without a shirt on…. The girls are still trying to figure out why.
Bananas are $8 a kilo for really BAD fruitIt is not a New Years Eve Hotspot
BUT it is a fun way to spend your summer holiday (may be biased because I’m a runner though.)