Eloise Wellings has one of Australia’s least-known but most inspiring sporting stories. It’s one of a young runner who qualified for three consecutive Olympic Games, and yet missed every single one of them through injury.
Sydney, Athens and then Beijing slipped through her fingers, her dreams stolen by a series of stress fractures.
“It was definitely the lowest of lows. Missing each of those Olympics was devastating. You feel so discouraged — there’s almost like a piece of you is missing when you can’t do what you love,” Wellings says.
“When it’s taken away it’s so difficult to accept, and there’s a grieving process you go through.”
Like many professional athletes, and especially long-distance runners, Eloise was convinced thinner meant faster, so she stuck to a strict meal plan. But what she thought was helping was actually hurting.
“When I was 16 I had the bone density of an 85-year-old woman — it was that dire,” she says.
“And so I had to have a real focus on my nutrition and get my energy balance right. Gym work and strength work were so important. And once that happened, I could get the running done without injury, and then you can start winning.
“As a young girl, I fell into the trap that plenty of distance runners fall into. But there’s a fine line before you get dangerously unhealthy and your body starts to breakdown.
“I remember my husband telling me I was eating like a supermodel eats, but I was running 150km a week.”
Eloise never gave up and more than a decade after qualifying for her first Olympics, she finally found herself on the starting line in London. Then she did it again, in Rio.
“It was so emotional,” she says.
“I remember walking to the starting line and getting flashbacks of all the moments I had to fight through to get to this place.”
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Tokyo in 2020 was next up for Eloise but in exciting news she is instead having another baby so the 36-year-old mum will now focus on training for a tilt at the marathon team and the 2024 Olympics.
And in the midst of it all, she even launched her own charity, the Love Mercy Foundation, which has been helping Ugandan families for more than 10 years.
Who better, then, to help us hack resilience?
1. FIND A NEW GOAL
“When I was injured before Sydney, I knew I had to find a new goal quickly,” Wellings says.
“For me, it was getting healthy, because only then could I focus on running again, and then I could race again. It’s a step-by-step process.”
2. FORGET THE ‘WHAT IFS’
“In Rio, I found myself locked in a toilet cubicle thinking about what was out there and I started to panic, “ Wellings says.
“I started thinking what if I go out there and run a bad race? What if I embarrass myself? What if, what if, what if? But you just need to picture the steps, one at a time, and visualise exactly what will happen. That’s what gets you through those moments.”
3. NEVER GIVE UP
“It might sound like a cliche, but if you want something, then never give up on it because of the challenges you might face, or the fear of failure,” she says.
“Fear of failure will only sabotage your efforts. Remember, just because something didn’t work the first time that doesn’t have to be your story.”
Question: I find I always seem to be running low on energy and I can’t figure it out. I eat well and get enough sleep, but I always wake up tired. Any hacks?
Answer: Magnesium is responsible for more than 300 bodily functions, including how we process food and water, and yet 90 per cent of people are deficient in it. So if you’re struggling with energy, try taking some magnesium before bed.
* Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
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