Originally published in the Australian Financial Review: Time Out Q&A:
Bree Knoester of Adviceline Injury Lawyers deals daily with people who have lost their physical abilities and miss the life they used to have. Running helps her deal with the stress - and reminds her of her own good fortune. She answers the Financial Review Time Out Q&A.
I have always loved running. I started at the age of 18, in the days when you would carry your Discman. I was acutely aware that any bumps or jolts would cause the music to skip, leading to a strange running style with one hand holding the Discman as still as possible. What I love about running is the opportunity it gives you to focus on just one thing: where you want to run to. Lawyers specialise in multitasking, managing large file loads, having many clients and being involved in multiple pieces of litigation at once. Our minds are constantly busy. Running is a way to practise mindfulness. I don't run with music or carry a phone. It's just me, the road, the noise of my shoes hitting the path and focusing on the place I am running to.
Road or track?
Definitely road. I have tried out trail-running events in Queensland, but I am convinced each stick I see is a snake, so I much prefer city running, where the only things to avoid are footpath cracks, walkers looking at their phones and swooping magpies in spring.
Do you race?
I compete as often as I can in half-marathons. I have completed around 10 half-marathons over the past 12 months. Since March last year, I have been working with a run coach towards a personal best time in the half-marathon, which I achieved at the Sri Chinmoy Yarra Boulevard run. Sri Chinmoy puts on fabulous events all over Melbourne, with a variety of distances and pancakes at the end of a race, which is an incentive for my four-year-old daughter, Amalia, to come and watch me cross the line.
The half-marathon. It is just the right mix of endurance and distance, and it requires both mental and physical stamina. It is also the perfect training base for the next big goal - the marathon!
How often do you train?
Five times a week. Monday is a short recovery run, Tuesday I work with a coach on strength and exercises to keep injuries in check, Wednesday I run intervals with a group and Friday is a gorgeous 13-kilometre run to work along the Yarra River. It is the best start to the end of the week, with beautiful views as you approach the city. The quiet of the early morning is sometimes broken only by the sound of oars in the water from rowing crews. Sunday is the much anticipated long run. At the moment, it is 20 kilometres to 36 kilometres as I train for the Melbourne marathon. I currently run 60 kilometres to 100 kilometres a week.
Are you a morning or night runner?
Mostly morning, so I can run before the family wakes up or use it as a form of commuting, although my energy levels are much better after a day in the office. But that could just be the built-up adrenalin of a litigation lawyer.
Social or solo?
Mostly solo for long runs, although running with close friends is a unique way of spending time together. I have run with one friend for more than 13 years and we have run all over - including in Buenos Aires, Queenstown and Caulfield.
After long runs, I have chai tea while I sit in an ice bath, followed quickly by banana and almond spread on toast.
Ever been lost?
I competed in a long-distance run in the Bronx, New York, which took me through a beautiful area called Riverside. Unfortunately, I got distracted by the mansions and ran off down a side street. I had to ask a resident how to get back onto the course.
What motivates you?
I feel privileged to run. In my work, I deal daily with people who have injuries or terminal illnesses. They have lost their physical abilities and miss the life they used to have. Running helps with stress relief. It helps me sleep and eat well, and I can do it almost anywhere.
How do you mitigate the risk of injury as you get older?
At the moment, avoiding injury and recovering from training is as important as the training. I fit in a remedial massage at lunch time and use rollers and spiky balls at home for muscle relief. My four-year-old also ensures I do a long walk after Sunday's long run - usually spent chasing her on her bike while I hold a chai latte. And sleep. Sleep is critical.
Do you travel to run and if so, where?
I have run in New York, Buenos Aires, New Zealand and Fiji. My dream is to run the New York or Boston marathon.
The latest ASICS Kayano 24 shoes.
Dream running buddy?
Mirinda Carfrae, an Australian professional triathlete and an incredible runner. I am watching YouTube clips of her at the moment to try to mimic her style.