The Running Zone of "Erica Leota"

Hello, who are you and what sports/fitness routine do you play?

My name is Erica Leota and I am into long distance running. But instead of road running, I run on the trails, and in the mountains. I love to be surrounded by nature and feel the dirt crunch underneath my feet alongside with my own private sympathy of birds singing. I pretend the leaves of the trees are my friends giving me high fives for a great job when I run past them! From 5km to 100km this is my joy! I didn’t start off this way though. I first started running by running light post to light post in my local street. I was too embarrassed to let others see me run, I would wait for a break in the traffic and run when no one could see me. (Or I would run at night) Eventually the way I ran made me feel so good that I didn’t care if others saw me. From there I started running longer and longer. I suppose I’m a mid pack runner. I’m not at an elite level but I know what to have a good time. I’ve managed a few podiums in races in 50, 75 and 100kms where the playing field is thin but my determination to keep going gets me to the finish line.

How do you get ready to train for your sport/how do you train?

It’s taken me a long time to work this out but I’m a believer that you don’t have to run all the time to succeed or be good at it. In fact, I think that’s the cause of so many runners getting injured.. over training. I like to focus on the stuff that makes your mechanics run well and find weights and resistance training is just as important as clocking up some kms. I LOVE my 5km parkrun on Saturday’s which is my weekly speed session and on Sundays, I like to slow it down and get the distance or time on foot. The combination of this keeps me feeling strong in the legs to go longer. I run 3 times a week and do weights/core or resistance 4 days. If my body feels strong then having a great run feels easier. This has worked well for me, but if I’m tired or it’s a busy week. Rest is just as important as the hard stuff.

After a workout/game, how do you recover your body? What do you do to get your body in shape? What type of diet do you eat? 

Salt baths are life when I get home from a big race. A good meal, lots of water, maybe even a few celebratory beers to relax afterwards and then sleep!! I always give myself a week off after a race as well. I never diet but I like to tell myself to make wise choices when it comes 

to food and nutrition. One of the biggest challenges in long distance is making sure you fuel yourself right. When running 100kms you have to make sure you eat and drink often to get yourself through without feeling like you’ve run out of steam. The longer you're out there, the more you’ll require. I like to have a mix of carbs, salts, water and caffeine for my races. And I swear by eating real food rather than gels and potions! I’ve even had pizza packed in my drop bags at races. The good old Aussie sanga doesn’t go astray either!

How do you prevent injuries when you’re training? What type of stretches do you normally do? What’s your routine looking like?

One of the best ways to avoid injury is to not over train. I’ve over trained in previous years and torn my meniscus doing so. I like to get regular massages and if something doesn’t feel right I make sure I book in to see my physio. Also don’t be afraid to get a second opinion. I’d love to say I stretch religiously but alas I don’t. My go to is walking. A morning walk can be a 

great way to stretch your legs and see how you feel. It’s not strenuous and it’s nice to slow down and take it all in. Some weeks I walk more than I run. The foam roller is a pain but also a godsend, great for ironing out niggles even though at the time of using it feels like you're not doing much at all. Keep your toenails short, buy quality socks and choose shoes that work for you. Everyone’s feet are different so purchase shoes from a store that will fit you correctly. There are many stores that specialize in running and have the technology to fit you in the correct shoes. Are you neutral arch, low arch, and high arch? Yep, it’s a thing!

If there is someone wanting to get to your level, what type of advice would you give them?

Just keep going, light post to light post. Pace and times mean nothing, they’re irrelevant! A 10 minute kilometer is the same distance as a 4 minute kilometer! Don’t compare yourself to others. Set your limit and then beat it. Then, set a new goal and beat it again. Don’t be afraid to aim high! Don’t rush the process, breathe it all in, live in the glory of ticking those boxes and kicking ass! Remember the pain is temporary, it’s just a feeling and all feelings pass, the prize is at the end and you have to earn it. 

How do you structure your day now? What projects are you busy with?

I’ve decided to take the rest of 2021 off! Which never happens for me, I’m addicted to running but I’ve had a few health issues this year and with the current world status I’m content in taking a step back and enjoying taking it easy. I’ll keep running but I won’t be racing. Instead I’ll put myself on the other side of the track and I’m volunteering at events and giving back to the running community that has been so good to me. Volunteering is just as rewarding as running and it comes without all the aching legs and prep involved. Plus you still get to see your friends and help cheer them on to get to their goals.

How has your journey on social media been? Future plans?

I originally started my Instagram page so I wouldn’t bombard my friends and family online with my “boring running” life. Non runners don’t usually get the hype and you hear things like “I don’t even like driving 100 kms” and so on. 

I called myself rik_runs and thought people in my everyday life wouldn’t find out about my secret page that I posted about running on. Then people started recognizing me at events. I was running at the Noosa Half Marathon and a girl in the crowd started singing out “Go Ricky, go Ricky!” It took me a moment to realize she was yelling out to me! It happened a few more times and then Facebook collaborated with Instagram and all your contacts came up as suggested friends to followers. My plan of remaining anonymous did not work out and since my name wasn’t actually Ricky, I decided to change my Instagram name to Run_with_erica and just own it! 

Anything else you would like to share?

If you want to start running and you're not sure how, download the couch to 5km app. There’s a few different ones available. Write down some goals, heck drag a friend in for the ride and get one foot in front of the other. The hardest part is starting, the rest will fall into place. You will meet some amazing people with courage and strength and you will find the joy and release of being in a happy place that running provides you. Lace up and just go forward until the magic happens.

How can our audience find you online? 

You can find me on Instagram under @run_with-erica I post all my runs and thoughts on here. When I have a race report I sometimes post in my blog on Word Press. You can find me on her by looking up Erica’s running adventures. I love taking photos so I also have lots and lots of happy snaps from my running. I swear I could have much faster race times if I didn’t take so many pictures. I just see it as getting my money’s worth.

Link to Erica's Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/run_with_erica/

Erica Leota is into long-distance running. She runs on the trails, and in the mountains. For her, volunteering is just as rewarding as running and it comes without all the aching legs and prep involved.