I was like an 85y o woman

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - THE HEALTH HACKER -

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,” she 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.”

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?

Pic­ture: Sam Rut­tyn

Long-dis­tance Long- dis­tance track run­ner Eloise Wellings missed three Olympic Games through in­jury.

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