Six Secrets to a Successful Fun Run


Secret #1: Consistency

Probably the most important thing with any training program is being consistent. If you’re not consistent with your training, and you are continually starting a program, then missing sessions, your body won’t be able to build on previous training to get fitter and stronger. You will be continually having to go back to the beginning and start again. If you miss a few sessions of your program and don’t drop your training down a bit when you start again, you risk injury as a result of stepping up your program too quickly. The single biggest roadblock to success I see with my clients is a lack of consistency in training.

The good news is, it’s quite easy to be consistent if you plan your training. You just need to be well organised.

Diarise your training time now. Take a pen out and write it in on your calendar, mark it in your electronic diary, however you do it, block your training time out now, for at least the next 6 weeks.  Make sure everyone knows that is your time.  Organise someone else to have your kids, dogs, cat, fish for that time. Don’t let anything get in the way of your training. Make sure you get out rain, hail or shine (but not electrical storms)! Tell your boss you can’t work back as you have an appointment, if working back is going to eat into your training time. If you had a doctor’s appointment you wouldn’t cancel it, so why cancel an appointment you have with the most important person in your life, YOU?

You’ll need to set aside time for 2-5 training sessions a week, of between 30 and 80 minutes (depending on the distance you are running and the level of training you want to do).


Secret # 2: Set Yourself  a Goal

Write your goal down. Set aside some time to think about what your goal is. Is it  to complete a fun run without stopping, or to run most of the way, or to raise a certain amount of money for charity, or to beat a previous best time, or to win the event outright? Whatever your motivation, write it down, say it out loud, put it out there. Be realistic about your goal. It’s great to aim high, but there’s not much point in aiming so high that you never quite hit your goals. Anyone who has an HR department in their workplace will probably have sat through lots of goal setting sessions, but it’s worthwhile reminding you here about setting SMART goals.

Your goals should be Specific – what are you going to do, how are you going to do it? A general goal would be “ to improve my running”. A specific goal would be “to improve my 5km run time by 15 seconds by the end of this training period” or by a specific date.

Your goals should be Measurable.  Create a goal with measurable progress so you can see the change occur. eg I will beat my previous best time, or better still and more specific, I’ll beat my previous best time by 30 seconds” or “I’m going to run every step of the way”

Your goals should be Achievable and Attainable.  For a goal to be attainable, achieving that goal needs to be important to you. If you don’t really mind what time you complete a 10km run in, then setting a goal of 60 minutes for 10km is not really going to motivate you to train to achieve that time. If what’s really important to you is losing a couple of kgs, and you’ve chosen running as a way of helping you to lose those kgs, then set yourself a weight related goal, rather than a goal centred on running. If however you are driven by beating your husband in a 10km race, set that as your goal. It will be far more attainable if tie your goal to what’s really important to you.

Your goals should be Realistic. This does not mean “easy”, it means “doable”. The goal needs to be realistic for you and where you are at the moment. I would be driven by the thought of beating my husband in a fun run, very driven in fact, but I also know that this is totally unrealistic as there is no way I will even come close to beating him unless he breaks both his legs. So setting myself a goal of beating my husband in our next 10km fun run is setting myself up for failure from the start, and I know. Instead of motivating me, the goal would totally demotivate me. I’d be better off setting myself the goal of improving on my personal best time by a greater percentage than he improves on his. That would definitely give me some bragging rights!

Your goals should be Timely.  With no time frame tied to it there’s no sense of urgency. Setting a clear time frame gives you a target to work towards.


Secret # 3: Be prepared to run slowly

This is particularly relevant if you are just getting back into running after a log break, or you have never really run much before. It’s important for a number of reasons. Like any sport, if you start out too hard to soon, you increase your risk of injury. Running puts quite a bit of stress on your body. The faster you run, the greater impact on your body.

Running slowly also allows you to run more, both in a single bout of training and cumulatively across your training program. The greater volume of training can be more beneficial for aerobic adaptations such as increased capilliarisation and mitochondrial density.


Secret # 4: Be prepared to run fast

You need to fresh enough after your long runs to be able to put in a good effort in interval training sessions to reap maximum benefit. You won’t be fresh from your long runs if you run them too fast, so being prepared to run fast (in some sessions) means you need to run slowly in other sesions. In a nutshell, running intervals will get you fit quick. Regular interval training will enable you to run faster for longer. It helps you to practice running faster without killing yourself, as you have recovery breaks, (or intervals) between each work bout. It can be tough runnning intervals on your own, so come along for a free trial at one of our interval running training groups, and see how running with a group can up the intensity.


Secret # 5: Increase your distance gradually

The rule of thumb for increasing your mileage is to keep it under a 10% increase each week. This applies to your total mileage, not just the length of your long run. This will help to minimise the risk of overuse injuries, or over training. Over training simply means you’ve trained too much and you are not giving your body enough time to recover. The training effect actually takes place when you are resting, not when you are training, so remember to include one week every 3-5 weeks where you ease off on your mileage.


Secret # 6: Plan your training.

Most campaigns come unstuck due to lack of planning. You rarely get the best out of yourself if you don’t have a training plan, guiding you towards your goal. Once you’ve set yourself a goal, write yourself a training plan and stick to it. The length of your training plan will depend on your goal. If you’re training for something even just 4 weeks away, a plan will help you get the most of the training time you have left. If If you need help with a training plan, Hooked on Health offers on-line training programs for all fun run race distances, from 4km to Marathons and beyond.


Find out more about our online distance running training programs.

Kids Running: HOH Kids Feature in School Cross Country


The first term of Hooked on Health’s kids’ running training group, HOH Athletics, has been a great success. With 16 regulars training at Melwood Oval on Tuesday afternoons, there was always plenty of action. Ranging in age from 7 to 12, the kids all benefitted from the great coaching and motivation provided by Kids Athletics Coach Richard Sarkies.


The focus for term I was cross country training, as most schools held their cross countries at the end of last term, or will hold them early this term. The representative season starts with the local primary school sports association zone carnival on 11th May at Lionel Watts Reserve.


All HOH Athletics kids achieved outstanding results in the cross countries. The results were:


Will Barry: 4th, U/8, St Josephs, Nbeen

Jacob Wander, 12th, U/8, Wakehurst Public

Lizzy McMillen, 1st, U/8,Forestville Public

Eva Strachan, 21st, U/11,Forestville Public

Emma O’Reilly, 1st, U/10, Belrose Public

Genevieve O’Brien, 4th, U/9 OLGC

Harrison O’Brien, 5th, U/8, OLGC

Olivia Thomson, 4th, U/8, OLGC

Flynn Stapleton, 4th, U/10, Belrose Public

Jordan Casey, 4th, U/8, Wakehurst Public

Cameron Lesurf, 8th, U/8 and U9, Mimosa Public (3rd U8 home)

Abbey McMillen, 1st, U/11,Forestville Public

Will Keir, 1st, U/13, Killarney High

Wilson Sarkies, 3rd, U/8 and U9, Mimosa Public (1st U8 home)

Tom Irwin, 2nd, U/10, Mimosa Public


In term two we will initially be focusing on the cross country and longer distances, adding in the shorter distances as the term progresses towards the school Athletics Carnivals.

Registrations are now open for term II running training.


Friday Arvo Races As an extension to our Tuesday Athletics Training, and seeing how much kids love running races, we have  ‘FRIDAY ARVO RACES’ at Lionel Watts Reserve Frencsh Forest, on, well, Friday of course! It’s open to ALL AGES and LEVELS, and the idea is for the kids to have a few races over various distances and try to improve their OWN times. Of course they’ll all be trying to beat each other as well. It will  be a great way of getting ready for their Athletics Carnival.


Find more information about our kids running groups, or register for a free trial now.


Like to comment on these great results, or add your own kids results? Please add to the comments below.


Running Up Hills


Running up hills is hard work. Simply put, it takes more effort to run up a hill and your body needs to recruit more muscle fibres to do so, than when you’re running at a nice tempo on the flat.

So how do you make running up hill easier? Get good at it by doing a lot of it. Your body will adapt and get stronger. You don’t need to do hill repeat after hill repeat to run a lot of hills. In Sydney, we are blessed with many things, amongst them, lots of hilly terrain. It’s pretty hard to run anywhere in Sydney that doesn’t include a few good hills.


Follow these tips and one day, you might just find you enjoy running up hills.


  • Include at least a few good hills in most of your runs. Don’t always hunt out the flattest route for your long runs.
  • Embrace the hill. Change your attitude to the hill. Call it a name. Conquer it. Heartbreak hill in the City to Surf is a classic example.
  • Include hill repeats as part of your program on a semi regular basis. Run handicap hills in a group starting with the slowest to fastest. This sets everyone a challenge.
  • Break your favourite hill up into chunks. Run the whole distance first time up, then come down 60m or so, and run up 40m. Keep going till you get back to the bottom, then run one more full hill, then continue on your run.


Think about your form when you’re running up hills


  • Good arm swing, as if you are pulling yourself up a rope. If your arms keep going, so will your legs.
  • Keep your strides quick, and slightly shortened, not great big long loping strides. Liken it to adjusting the gears on a bike for uphill riding. Your legs should be “spinning” up the hill when you’re running
  • Visualise pressing your hips into the hill so that you’re not bending at the waist
  • Experiment with whether you like to look at the peak of the hill and see yourself getting closer and closer, or if you prefer to keep your eyes down and get a pleasant surprise when you look up and you’re nearly at the top! Either way, keep your head and neck in good alignment – don’t drop your chin into your chest, or tilt your head backwards
  • Knees can come a little higher to help with your stride rate
  • You’ll naturally come up onto the ball of your foot as you are running up hill. Don’t fight it. Push down on your toes to create a lift that will help propel you forward.

When you reach the top of the hill, remember you have to keep running. It’s not an opportunity to slump into yourself and shuffle along for the next 200 metres. Once you reach the top, continue to think tall, count your breathes, your strides, anything to get you back into a good rhythm quickly. You’ll be surprised how quickly you recover if you stop thinking about how ghastly it was!


And remember: love the hill. It’s doing you good.


Share your uphill running tips below.

Running Mantras

How do you get your head in the right space to keep putting one foot after the other? As “mile after relentless mile” marches on, how do you keep it up? Some days it’s easy. You welcome each KM as it approaches.  These are the days you run for. Some days, it just doesn’t click, and you need something to keep you going. That’s when running mantras can help you get your head back on the track with the rest of your body.


You’ll find it’s important to have different mantras to achieve different goals. If your goal is not to go out too fast in a race, then you need something which will slow you down a bit. “Slow and steady”, is not particularly creative, but can be effective. “Can I keep this up for 42 kms?” is also a good one. Or how about, “See you at about 15km”, when you are tempted to keep up with all the people who are going out too fast at the start? Those people who you just know you’ll peg back at about the 15km mark!

As things start to get a little tougher towards the end of a race, no matter what the distance, something more along the lines of “You’re tough enough to do this”,  “keep your arms moving” “you’ve trained for this, you’re ready”. Something as simple as the classic “Come On” used by Leighton Hewitt is a great exapmle of a mantra – though I suggest you lose the hand actions if you’re going to use this one.


Training mantras will be different to racing mantras, as will mantras designed to help you maintain technique. To help me maintain some type of form when things get tough, I repeat after me “run tall, lift, lengthen”. This helps me to keep my pelvis in good alignment as I imagine I am lifting out of my hip joint, not dropping down on one side each time I lift my foot off the ground in classic “model walk posture”. In training I think about specific goals and remind myself “you are one session closer to achieving…..”-whatever that goal might be.


My all time favourite mantra is “if not now when, if not you who”? It has served me well across a number of different sports. I’d say there’s a few other people who reckon it’s not bad. It’s been around since the first century BC, and is attributed to Rabbi Hillel (Hillel the Elder), recorded in a section of the Talmud.

I first heard it when listening to Mike McKay (of oarsome foursome fame) speaking to a bunch of senior managers. It struck a chord. From memory he had either the word “now” or it may have been “yes” tacked onto the back of the oarsman in front of him, and he used this to lift at crucial stages in the race (I have perhaps just made that bit up, but it was a long time ago that I heard him speak).


When I was rowing, I used it when I knew I had to give it everything I had, to get out through a big surf without being smashed, which generally means game over. Now I use it throughout fun runs, (and to a lesser extent training sessions) when I’m finding it tough going. It serves to remind me why I’m out there on the road.

And why am I out there on the road? Mostly because I have a competitive streak and want to post a PB, want a top 5 finish in my age category, (not very commonn these days – bring on the 50+ category) or just bloody mindedly won’t let that person up ahead in the pink shirt get too far ahead of me. Afterall, I am going to be ahead of them at the finish line.  I’m also fascinated at what the body can be put through-though I don’t know that I’ve ever really put it to the test except in childbirth – and aint that a doozy for mantras – all partners of women in labour please note “just relax” is a particularly ineffective mantra during labour.


Some mantras are so widely used they have become cliche, such as “run your own race” and “don’t panic” although I prefer “stay calm” to “don’t panic”. Others include “make pain your friend” and “this is what you train for”.


Whatever dreams you run for, a mantra can bring them that much closer to reality, Runners World offers the following mantra builder if you don’t have any of your own already.


Choose one word from each section below to create a motivational, get-it-done power chant.

[mantra-multi][mantra-column width=”1/4″]


[/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″]


[/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″]


[/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″]


[/mantra-column] [/mantra-multi]







For example:

Run strong, think speed.

Be light, feel power.

Sprint fast, feel speed.

We’d love to hear some of your running mantras.

SMH Half Marathon 2010

Hooked on Health wins women’s team event


Hooked on Health’s fantastic run continued today with our women’s team of Michele Woods, Sam Evans, and Jane Raftesath taking out the women’s team event in the Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon, by the narrowest of margins. Unfortunately, our fourth team member, Stef O’Brien had to withdraw prior to the start of the race, due to illness.

A half marathon virgin, three PB’s and a “best time for ten years post babies”. As a coach, you can’t ask for much more than that! Marc Fitton, Michele Woods and Jane Raftesath all recorded PB’s, Jane taking a massive 13 minutes off her previous best set in the same race last year, whilst Sam Evans ran her best time since giving birth to her three children, completing the run in 1hr 51 mins and 23 secs. Jane completed the 21 odd kilometres in  1hr 45 mins and 40 sec. Marc broke 1hr 50 mins for the first time (just), crossing the line at the 1 hr 49mins and 47 secs!

In her first half marathon, Michele took the pace out perhaps a little too hard and says she was feeling the fast pace by the 8km mark. Oh dear, only 13kms to go! After 1 hr 53 mins and 29 secs, Michele was very thankful to cross the finish line. Great run Michele.

New to Hooked on Health, Monique Hauber-Davidson also ran the half, finishing comfortably in 2hr 17 mins.

From a spectator’s point of view, it was a very chilly and nerve racking morning, but well worth it. Thanks to the rest of the Hooked on Health team for their good wishes and messages of congratulations.

View all SMH Half Marathon results here.

The Value of Fun Runs

Setting yourself the goal of a few fun runs each year helps you stick to a regular running programme, and sticking to a regular programme can bring many benefits. These include elevated self confidence, stress release, improved cardiovascular health, increased bone density and of course the runner’s high.

Long runs are fantastic for sorting your thoughts and solving life’s problems.

Run with friends and solve the problems of the world. Interval training is also a great stress release. Run like the wind and release any pent up aggression or frustration. Running intervals with a group can push you just that bit harder, just that bit faster.

Running helps train the mind as well as the body. Your focus and determination in overcoming the obstacles that running can throw up (hills, rain, injuries, rain, fatigue, oh and did I mention rain?) can give you the confidence and determination to overcome challenges in the rest of your life.

Challenging yourself in a fun run can give you a wonderful sense of achievement. So, set yourself a goal, choose a fun run or a few fun runs and stick with the training consistently and reap the benefits. Try to improve your times year on year for particular fun runs, or aim for a best time over a certain distance, or just a faster pace than previously set in races of shorter distances.

There are heaps of fun runs to choose from, with more being added to the calendar each year. You’d be mad to try to do all the runs, not only from a physical point of view. The entry fees could also send you slowly broke, so I thought I take a look at a few of the major runs and rate them in terms of value for money.

The entry fee is the early bird entry fee unless otherwise stated.

Fun RunEntry FeeCost/kmGood BitsNot So Good Bits
Sun Run Dee Why to Manly 4th Feb Distance: approx 6.5km Terrain:One big hill heading out of Dee Why, the rest undulating$45$6.92Scenic and interesting routeRun on wide roads which are closed to traffic so no bottle necksIn it’s first year last year, lots of water was supplied, so can only assume the same this year

Weather hot and humid this time of year, so not a good one if you don’t run well in the heat.The price –$6.92 per km is a bit steepNot a certified accurate course

Not a standard distance-can’t compare your times against other races of the same distance

Have to pick up a race pack at the event expo prior to race day.

As this is a point to point course, need to make your way back to Dee Why after the race

Lindfield Rotary Fun Run 1st April Starts and finishesat Roseville park. Winds around the hilly streets of Roseville and Lindfield Distance:10km and 5km Terrain. Bloody Hilly$28$65 family$2.80 10km$5.60 5km$1.62/km for family of 4 running 10km

Certified accurate course so you know what you’re running, mostly – there was a little glitch 2 years ago when one official sent the runners the wrong way, but that was such a debacle that the very friendly and dedicated people who run the event will be doing everything in their power to make sure it doesn’t happen againVery challenging courseStandard race distances of 5km and 10km so comparable in distance  to other fun runs, but you’d be hard pressed to come across another that was so hilly

Reasonable number of toilets.

Price. When a family of 4 or 5 or 6 (or possibly more) can register for a 10km run for 65 bucks, you know you’re on a winner.

Race bibs mailed prior to race day for early bird entries, or pick up on the day for late entries

Entries on the day


Very challenging courseDrinks at 5km turn around only (from memory, but please add comments below if I’m wrong) so if it’s a hot day it’s hard going10km is 2  laps of the 5km course, so if you didn’t like it the first time, you’re not exactly going to love it the second time round

Australian Running FestivalCanberra14th and 15th AprilDistance: Marathon, half, 10km and 5km

Terrain: marathon and half marathon, not as flat as you might expect for Canberra

Marathon $109Half$8910km $47$2.60$4.22$4.70Well organised Water stations every 2.5km, energy drinks at every 2ndwater station.Marathon and Half Marathon, good course with enough room at the start to avoid bottlenecksKits posted if register in earlybird time frame10km is 3 and a bit laps of the course, so front runners have to weave their way through half the field.Multiple laps of the course means lots of corners to slow you down.Have to pick up kit from expo, not on the day, if miss early bird cut off.

Mother’s Day Fun RunThe Domain, (Paramatta, and other venues around the country)Distance 4km, 8km

Terrain: flat to undulating

$35 +$4 timing feeFamily of 2 adults and up to 6 children $70 + timing fee$4.37 for 8km, less if family

face kits sent out if earl bird entry or else pick up on the dayHigh profile community eventPleasant surrounds of The Domain Activities for the kids

4km is a good race for the kids

It seems they have finally got their timing right, starting the 4km event 40 minutes prior to the start of the 8km.Most of the 4km runners should be off the course before the 8km runners reach the 3km mark.

Walkers and runners have been separated into different time slots, but as always there are some people who jump in with the run who never have any intention of running-very frustrating as you’re ducking and weaving around them

Good vantage point for family and friends to watch on art gallery road opposite the art gallery. 4km runners come past twice, 8kers 4 times.

Sufficient toilets

Lots of kids who seem to have no idea that there is anyone else on the course – my own son included! Be aware they will run in front of you and you could easily be tripped up if you’re not watching what you’re doingLots of people generally, especially in the 4km, so it can be hard to get a decent rhythm going

SMH Half MarathonMay 20thSydney

Terrain: undulating, but there are plenty of stretches for good tempo running

$892011 prices$4.21

High profile event with lots of runnersHigh quality field and a good vibeA community event which lots of people know about, so you’re likely to get more support from friends and work colleagues than if you were running a lesser known event. Great for boosting morale

Some interesting scenery, though though the move to run through Pyrmont has added some rather drab bits

Good vantage points for spectators if they are prepared to move around the city a bit

Sufficient drink stations

Parking close by the start and finish point in the Domain, but be warned… plan to arrive very early if you are driving in or else you’ll still be in traffic when the race starts

Sufficient toilets at the start of the race

Large number of runners causing congestion in some spots could mean you have to slow to a walk around some cornersA couple of people told me last year they wouldn’t do it again as there were too many people intent on getting a good time happy to elbow you aside.

Minimos Marathon17thJuneDistance: 10km, 5km and kids 2km

Terrain: undulating to hilly

10km $355km $25,2km $15$3.50$5.00$7.50

Certified accurate courseWell organisedReasonably priced if you get in early

Times staggered so the whole family can run at differnt times allowing for one parent to care for kids whilst other is running.

Kids 2km – very popular and just a few small hills to keep them honest

School fare run in conjunction with the run, so lots of yummy cakes to refuel on afterwards

Registration on the day

Kits mailed out if early bird entry

School toilets are open so plenty to go around

The organisers have this one down pat. The only thing I can say is beware of what you buy at the 2ndhand toy store. If it has multiple bits, make sure they are all there!!Can be pretty cold in the middle of winterToilet cubicle doors only come up to chest height so if you don’t’ want someone watching you pulling up your undies, duck.

Gold Coast30th June & 1st JulyDistance: Marathon, Half, 10km, 5km 4km kids and 2km kids

Terrain: flat

Marathon $120Half $8510km $55

5km $40

Kids $25




Good flat course where you can get a fast timeGreat facilities – toilets, showers etcAdequate water

Pace runners

Well organised

Quite expensiveCourse is a bit monotonous-same scenery and few hillsHave to pick up race kits on the Gold coast on the day prior to your race

The Bay Run5thAugustDistance: 7km (approx) around iron cove. Kids 2km

Terrain: mostly flat with one fairly steep, shortish hill.

$24Kids $10$3.43$5.00

Good hit out before the city to surfFriendly atmosphereLots of different categories including fastest dog in the west

Kids race

Nice scenic route around Iron Cove

Pretty flat course so you can run a fast time –especially if you disregard the fact it’s about 150m short of 7k

It always seems a bit of a shemozzle at the startSome narrow parts of the course can cause bottlenecksCourse isn’t closed to the public

Long toilet cues

There always seems to be a lot of mud around the martialling area

Not a standard race distance so difficult to compare your performance against other races

City To Surf12thAugust Iconic race on theSydney running CalendarYou either love or leave it to those who do

Distance: 14km

Terrain: undulating to hilly with a fairly large hill about 1/2 way

$55$3.92Massive community event-one of those must do at least once things for many peopleParty atmosphereGreat if you are a seeded or preferred runner, but not so great if you are behind this group and ducking and weaving through crowds for the whole 14km

Crowds mean a fast run is unlikely, so best just to compare your City to Surf times year on year, rather than against other races.A one way course and 80,000 entrants means you could find it difficult to get back home in a hurry.If you’re aiming to start at the front of the group, slipping out of the pack and going to the loo before the start is not advised. You’ll be hard pressed to get back up to the front

Well priced for such an event

Sydney Running FestivalSunday 16th SeptDistance: marathon, half, 9km and 4km

Another big community fun run across the harbour bridge, which is reason enough to participate

4km $409km $55Half $85




Big community eventRun across the bridgeSufficient toilets, but get a bit on the nose given the number of people and the hot weather

Events start times now spaced out well so you don’t have traffic jams

Have to pick up race kit in the city prior to event9km and 4km are only approximate distances, so not comparable to other races. Based on people’s times last year, we estimate the 4km to be more like 4.5kmExpensive, especially the 4km and 9km distances

Usually very hot, and they still seem not to have figured out the drinks stations properly

Marathonstart of 7am is too late.

Practically have to cover another marathon to get to the baggage area to pick up your bags

Run4 funHomebushDistance: 10km

Terrain: Mostly flat

$45$4.50Well organisedGood for recording a fast timeReasonably pricedHeat
Sri Chinmoy RacesA series of races run throughout the year. Varying distances including 4km, 7km, 8km, 14km, 16km and 12km. Venues include Centennial Park, Mirambeena, Iron Cove, Dolls Point, Cooks RiverEntry fees – $27, $22 and $17, depending on the distance 

Very friendly low key events.Free pancakes afterwardsEasy parking Plenty of drinks stations

Can enter on the day

pick up race bib on the day

At $1.29per km  for a half marathon distance, these would have to be the cheapest races going around.

Good as a first time fun run if you’re feeling a little timid about it

Hand held timing device so your time is not accurate to the last secondLow key – some people prefer the hype of big high profile eventsIron Cove – tends to be a lot of walkers on the path so can get frustrating dodging people by your second lap.