Friday, 6 December 2013

Inspirational Women Who Run.... Introducing Trish Moffatt

Trish is truly inspirational. She is the mother of four - including Olympic Bronze medallist Emma Moffatt (stay tuned for a Dim Sum and Long Runs featured post on Emma!). She is a teacher, and an exceptionally talented athlete herself. 
Today, Trish talks about getting your kids into sport and how to keep them motivated and enthusiastic for life. She is an amazing woman, and the reason that I first started running.
I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did. 
Please meet Trish!

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? 
I can’t believe it, but I’m now sixty-one and have been retired for nearly four years.
I started teaching at nineteen and was posted to a very isolated town in northern NSW. I taught at four different schools in the western area of the state before being transferred to the area we now live in - Woolgoolga on the North Coast of New South Wales.
Our four children were all born in Moree, and so being transferred to the North Coast was exactly where we wanted to stay.
I have always been interested in most types of sports and played or competed in anything that was being organised.
After thirty six years of teaching, I am now happily retired with my husband, Dave, to do whatever! 
We have six grandchildren to date to enjoy, lots of travel to look forward to and plenty of time to stay fit and healthy.

NSW  Triathlon Club Championships 2013. I love that Trish is getting out of the water with a fit young woman and two burly guys. She finished first in her category in this race. 

How long have you been running, and how did you get into it to start with?
I suppose I have always loved running but didn’t participate in anything organised until High School. 
Most of my younger years were spent Swimming. I loved to train and competed at many levels till the end of High School.
Running was always on the cards at Primary School but nothing was organised, except by the kids themselves. We all knew who the best runners were and so we always challenged each other.
I probably didn’t start running till my early thirties, once we moved to the Coast. Most running before that was limited to team sports.
However, when we arrived in Woolgoolga, groups of people seemed to be running everywhere and so we just joined in. There seemed to be lots of places to run which provided variety and kept us all motivated. 

You are also the mother of four extremely talented and hard-working athletes – including an Olympic bronze medalist, and several time ITU (International Triathlon Union) World Champion. How did you get your kids into sport?
I suppose because I came from a swimming background, it was important for me that all my children would learn to swim and eventually join a squad. This did happen and looking back, it made life easy because they all loved it. The enthusiasm continued as they continued to achieve.
Swimming and Surf Club became a huge part of their lives throughout the summer months.
It was not hard at all to keep them involved. Surf Club provided such a variety. It consisted of Board and Swimming activities along with many activities on the Beach.
Winter was the time we all took to running. This probably started because of the excellent State system we have in our schools.
The opportunity to participate and compete was readily available, and so this was to motivation that began the training throughout their school lives.
Having four children who all had friends, the word spread that the Moffatts had a running group and you can come along and join in. (Eds note - the group was totally free - amazing considering how much work must have gone into the programs and training!)
My husband, Dave was the coach; he had the background knowledge to set up programs for us all to follow. Many parents joined in and it became a great social outlet. These friends continue to be among our closest friends today.
We were also very happy to take our kids anywhere to compete as long as they continued to enjoy it.

Trish, you know you are the reason that I started running.  When I was 10, you suggested to my mum that I should come running with your family. You seemed always to know how hard to push kids, without causing burnout – I’m still running, and most of the kids who used to run in our group are also still running - even after they’ve had their own families and have jobs and are juggling other things.
What do you think the key is to getting kids into running, or sport, and how do you keep them motivated? 
I think when you are young it is extremely important that you are enjoying yourself. Children must also feel that they are achieving at whatever level they are at. Running at an early age has to be social, and the best way to do that is with your friends.
I think our running days were inventive and kept interesting with fartleks, sprints, hill work and long runs. Our sessions were serious because both parents and kids wanted to feel that they were not wasting their time. Kids love to race each other, often using a handicap system kept everybody involved. It was important not to leave anybody out.
Dave and I were always interested in all the kids in our group, whatever their level of achievement.
I think because we always trained in a group, the enthusiasm and competitive spirit was always alive and well.
Still, there was always plenty of laughing and talking before and after!
I was always mindful that our children behaved themselves and were respectful to their coaches. And they had to have that ‘commitment’ for us to continue with our efforts. 
Children have to learn disappointment, to make mistakes, and also that results are not the main object of why they are doing sport. I have found that parents who do sport with their children or have participated themselves understand this better. Children don’t need pressure, most will give up as it is not enjoyable any more. I think parents’ attitudes to winning and losing and commitment is the key to whether children continue to participate in whatever sports they choose. 

How did you ever juggle four kids, a husband, a fulltime job, and loads of running and plenty of other sports when your kids were growing up?
I suppose now that I look back, our life was very hectic but we were young and fit ourselves. I am a very organized person and Dave never sits still so we always seemed to get wherever we needed to be!!
I personally loved to drive my children to swimming training, it was also a time for me to do my own swimming (while keeping in touch with what the coach was doing).
I loved to be around with whatever sport they were doing at the time, so it wasn’t ever a chore to be off somewhere.
Dave took more responsibility with the running in the Cross Country season, it was a break for me, not having to do those very early morning starts into the Olympic pool in Coffs Harbour. (Eds note; swimming training used to start at 5.30am sharp, and the pool was about a 25 minute drive away.)
The house seemed to run fairly smoothly as Dave became the chief cook and I looked after everything else!
We also had some very good friends to help with the ferrying of children. It did help that we were both teachers and had the same work hours and holidays.
The Moffatt family, 2012
Do you think that it was an advantage or disadvantage having your family in a small town – Woolgoolga – and keeping them in sport?
Woolgoola has been a very special place for us to bring up our children.
It was easy for us, I suppose, because although being a small community, it still provided every opportunity the children needed to thrive.
We were very lucky to have such supportive and talented coaches involved in our children’s lives.  This, I think, was very much the key to keeping them happy and involved.

 Now that your family is all grown up, are you still doing lots of running?
At the moment I am injured (torn cartilage) so running on land has been on the back burner.
I love to run and do miss it but have taken up ‘water running’ to help me get back on track.
Dave and I swim three times a week, mountain bike twice a week and road bike on a Sunday if there is no Tri Club. (Trish and Dave are both members of the Coffs Harbour Triathlon Club.)
I also do some strength training and two pilates sessions a week.
Tri club, I suppose, is our main motivation to keep training. It is an excellent club and gives us a fortnightly race to compete in.
I would love to do some more individual running in events around the area but I have to be careful not to push too hard and end up becoming more injured. Cross training is good for us at this stage of our lives.
We are both still fit and as keen as ever to keep moving (maybe we are a bit addicted)!!
With some of the grandkids
What’s your favorite thing about running?
I like to run because it is easy to organize, virtually shoes on and away you go.
I’ve always got my watch going as I love to time myself, because I just like to see how I’m going.
I love the challenge and I also love the company.
I love the variety running can bring.  I also think running is the best exercise for aerobic fitness.
It is that feeling you have at the finish of a run, (such a good workout!) that keeps you going back.

Is there anything that you don’t like about running?
I absolutely love to run but really can’t think of anything too negative. Maybe those mornings when time is limited and it is raining and miserable. I don’t mind getting wet while I’m out there but hate to start off in wet conditions.

What moments stand out for you, that you are most proud of, both as a mother and a runner?
Although all of my children have achieved at high levels in their sporting careers, some moments are pretty special for me.  
I am very proud of all my children and what they have achieved but more importantly how they conduct themselves. I like to think they are all good sports and can have a laugh at themselves from time to time.
I was so proud of my son, Chris, when he was selected in his first Athletics’ Team. I remember reading the note in his school bag and shaking, I was so excited. He was five years old and I was pretty chuffed.
He was my first child and he could do something!

I also remember Emma’s first Cross Country race in Sydney. She was always very slight compared to the other girls in her age group and often had to be careful in a packed start.
We were watching the start of her race from a distance and then suddenly saw this girl fall flat as the gun went off.
I could tell it was Emma. But the next minute she was up and chasing. We were very proud to see her not give up. She was about eight or nine at the time and put in such a gusty effort that she finished third.
It was the State Titles, such a wonderful effort.
And of course, I have to ask, what was it like when Emma won Bronze for the triathlon at the Beijing Olympics? (I know I cried when I watched it on TV.) 
To this day I still can’t believe Emma is doing what she is doing. She has certainly astounded us with her commitment.
We are obviously very proud of her, but more importantly proud that she conducts herself well.
All our family were in the stands in Beijing and to quote our son Chris, ‘the atmosphere was electric’! We were all dressed up in the Australian ‘green and gold’ and were sitting amongst a crowd of cheering, rowdy Aussies.
I was very nervous the whole race and actually relieved when it was over.
It was then time to just relax and soak up the atmosphere.
The National anthem is always emotional and to have it playing for the two Aussies was very special.  Emma Snowsill winning gold, while our Emma won bronze. That was a great moment!

What’s next for you? Are you doing any races? Do you have any other goals you are aiming for? 
Dave always thinks I’m on a mission to achieve something. He is so much more ‘cruisey’ than me. We do train well together though, a good balance, I suppose.
I would firstly like to get back to doing the local Tri club races when my injury heals.
The Coffs Harbour Olympic distance triathlon event in early March is a priority as well as the Club Championships for NSW in April.

What advice would you give to parents who want to make sport a part of their kid’s lives?
Sport is a great life for all children.
Children have to have good teachers and coaches who always keep an eye on them but stay in the background.
Encourage your children but remember tough love may be needed on lots of occasions.
Be prepared to allow them to participate. It takes time and energy from the parents as well as the kids. This may not suit many families, but it was a way of life for us.
Get involved in the clubs they join and be a supportive member/parent.
Don’t get too involved in the competitive side of things, most kids will try to achieve all by themselves.
Always make sure your kids are healthy, eating and sleeping well. Diet is an important aspect right from the start of their lives. Be a role model and it will pay off in later life.
As a parent there will be many highs and lows in your children's sporting career. Enjoy their successes but be prepared that it won’t always be like that.
How amazing is Trish? She is 61 and still smiling at the end of the Coffs Harbour Olympic Distance Triathlon 2013. Still looking fast!

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