Sometimes life just shakes us up. It's not always pleasant but it does push us in new directions. Whangaparaoa local, dog lover and mother of three, Maree Leith is the proud owner of Go Run Girls, her company which inspires and motivates women to get running. Running hasn't always been her thing or been easy. But like all hard things in life they can lead us to our biggest moments of joy.
Maree's kick came at a time when she was working through becoming a Mum again after the birth of her youngest, daughter Amelia. This little girl was a miracle baby in her life. Sadly Maree had previously had two miscarriages and then went through the heartache of losing her little girl Katie at just six weeks old. Throughout this heartbreaking time in her life, Maree felt as though she had lost some of her own identity and gained weight as a result. Her doctor shocked her into action with an awful statement "You have too much fat around your stomach and you need to lose weight". And while hearing those words hurt at the time, it spurred Maree to apply these horrible words into trying something 'hard and horrible' to lose the weight. At the time that was running.
Feeling like she didn't have access to resources to help her start, she taught herself to run from lamppost to lamppost pushing Amelia in her buggy. It was extremely hard at first, but gradually her fitness, distance and confidence increased. Eventually she decided it was time for an event and she challenged herself to do a 6km run. That was six years ago and she's never looked back. Crossing that first finish line was a high like no other. It's that huge buzz you get from achieving something tough and out of your comfort zone. And for her running, as they say, the rest is history.
Those first six kilometers turned into bigger and better runs. Her husband Steffan also joins her on runs. His arrival into running came when Maree was training for the Gold Coast Marathon and her friend who was joining her had to withdraw. Feeling like she couldn't have done it on her own, Steffan stepped in to support and with him having just three months of training, together they crossed the finish line. She is grateful for his passion and support for both running and her business. While her youngest, Amelia, joins in the kids fun runs at events, her two older teenagers feel like running is a chore. But Maree knows she owes it both to herself and her family to be healthy and active.
Fast forward a little more and Maree was ready to tackle her first Ultra Marathon. Training for the Taniwha 60km Race she started blogging and Go Run Girls was born. Within weeks she had over a thousand women following her story from becoming a Mum to becoming an Ultra Runner.
This life changing shift has also pushed Maree in other areas of her life. She's become a Pilates Instructor, Qualified Coach and a Personal Trainer. She wants to share her experiences and knowledge with other women to help them make positive health changes in their own lives (both physically and mentally). Maree was also fortunate in 2016 to travel with the Achilles NZ team to go and run the New York Marathon as a guide for runners with impairments. An absolute bucket list moment for her.
We asked Maree what she's learnt about herself through running and she said "If you let down your barriers and push away your fears you can do amazing things. Never say never".
Her advice for those of us just starting out in running is to start with small realistic goals. Interval training is a great way to start regardless of what exercise you might choose. Slowly build the intervals up and keep listening to you body. Consistency will be the key to your success!
Maree is inspired by the women who also get out there and conquer events while facing their own personal challenges. Not every challenge is huge, life can often get in the way, but its those that consistently work to stick with their training that keep Maree motivated as a coach.
Go Run Girls is expanding all over the place, you can find Maree partnering with different running events around the country including the Tauranga Marathon (where we met her), the Queenstown Marathon and much more. Make sure you check her out on Instagram, Facebook and if you're ready then so is Coach Maree.