Siobhan Komander’s Can Too journey started when she was recovering from lifesaving surgery to remove a brain haemorrhage. She went on to become a half marathon runner which led her on a path to rediscovery.
Before embarking on my first 10km goal run I’d heard about the phenomenon called “runners high”, where running becomes addictive and the reward you get from hitting the pavement is better than (insert your own “better than” here).
It took me a long time to hit that high, largely because when I started my Can Too running journey I was recovering from a brain haemorrhage (that occurred when I was out running on my own) so I had some serious fitness to achieve, and triggers to overcome.
The unwavering support of the Can Too community – from Coach Mike (Mike Engelsman) and my Team Captain, Niall Faber (a Can Too legend and top bloke) to my Inner West pod teammates and dear friend Michelle Mancy, who supported me through the entire journey - I achieved my goal to run 10km.
Achieving that goal was the biggest ‘high’ from the program and set me on a path of self-discovery, or rather self-rediscovery. It brought me back to being the person I was before a brain injury; motivated, outdoorsy, moving forward, setting and achieving goals. The ‘running high’ hadn’t yet kicked in, but the high from achieving a goal, certainly had.
There’s also something to be said for fundraising. It gives you that little something extra to keep going. When it’s pouring with rain, cold and dark outside, or the 4.45am alarm is just too much, knowing that family, friends and even strangers have parted with their hard-earned money to support me (+cancer researchers) you just can’t give up.
Searching for my next high, I thought, well if I can run 10km can I run 21km? The ritual of meeting on a Saturday morning was thoroughly enjoyable and a group of us from the 10km Run Into Summer Program committed to doing the Can Too SMH Half Marathon training. Running is fun, but running with friends is better. Starting your weekend off knowing you had put the hard work in before 9am was also very gratifying.
I am still astounded that I’ve actually run a half marathon – even though it wasn’t an official race, I successfully ran 21.1km. Circumstances surrounding Covid led to the rescheduling of the SMH race and due to a personal clash with the Can Too re-organised race I wasn’t able to do the Can Too grand finale run. Instead, with the support of very own, Inner West Pod and Can Too, I organised my own goal distance race.
I was fortunate to have my teammate (and friend) Cathy running with me. We’d run together most of the program and, with her by my side and other teammates joining me for segments, I was thoroughly supported!
Smashing that goal was, much to my surprise, more emotional than the 10km run. Yes, 21.1km is a long way and exhausting, but two weeks before my half marathon I learnt that my aneurysm was reforming and I’d need a major operation to deal with it. So, by the time I was heading down the hill for the last 500 metres of the finish line, I was a blubbering mess! I was going to do it! I was going to complete my very own half marathon.
As I was running across the finish line (which was a bright orange feather boa, no less!) my team mates were there cheering me on, (see the video below).
That’s Can Too right there. That was the high. The community, the support and understanding, the fundraising, the common goals that get us turning up for speed training and endurance runs. It was a rush, a buzz and I finally got the high!
Let’s be under no illusion, it wasn’t easy. The training is a real commitment, but if you follow the program and turn up you’ll get there. The journey to getting to race day was life changing – I know it sounds trite, but it’s the honest truth.
The fundraising also led me to reconnecting with long lost friends and I spoke at the fabulous Rotary Club of Five Dock about Can Too - a likeminded community group who’s entire meeting was dedicated to the fundraising they’ve done,what they’re going to do and the charities they’re supporting. Genuinely doing good in the community. Just like Can Too.
I’m having my aneurysm dealt with in the not-too-distant future, which means I’m missing out on the current Blackmores Half Marathon program and I have some major FOMO! I hadn’t fully appreciated what a difference this community has made to my life and the important role in my recovery Can Too played. So much so that I’m planning my surgery so that I’ll be recovered in time to join the next Can Too run program and keep the momentum going.
Thank you Can Too, for putting the high into ‘runners high’ for me.
You can donate to Siobhan's: "Shuvvie Will Run again" Fundraising page here
Can Too's Blackmores Half Marathon and 10km run programs are now open, but regos close soon. Find out more and register here: www.cantoo.org.au/blackmores