Couch to Cascade 4.0: A meandering tale about why I want to run

June 29 2023

You may remember Nikki, one of our Directors in 2022. She’s on a journey to go from “couch to Cascade 4.0” over the next four months. She says she’s “never been a runner”, is who’s battled with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for 15 years and has been the mum “martyr”. But she’s looking to rebuild and reclaim herself. And she’s brave enough to share that journey with us, until our Cascade Slide & Cascade 4.0 event in October 2023.

They say that when a woman becomes a mother, her identity gets broken into a thousand pieces. And it can take months and years to rebuild the new you – the you who is a mother, a partner and an individual. The you who is career focused and has hobbies and interests and dreams of who she can become, while also wishing for time to stand still so you have one more moment to soak up the joy of your baby’s first smile. They call this transition period matrescence.

Aurelie Athan, a reproductive psychologist at Columbia University describes matrescence as “a holistic change in multiple domains of your life. You’re going to feel it perhaps bodily, psychologically. You’re going to feel it with your peer groups. You’re going to feel it at your job. You’re going to feel it in terms of the big philosophical questions.” In other words, everything changes.

I had my first son four years ago and my second son two years ago. It was a long journey to have them in my arms and my life cracked apart in all of the right ways – and all of the wrong ways.

I became the martyr who put everyone else’s needs first. I was weighed down by my own expectations of how to be the perfect mother. I resented the people who seemed to be able juggle parenthood with the rest of their lives, and those who had managed to reclaim their identities. I was both hopelessly in love with my children and drowning in the all-consuming world of logistics and sick days, the mental load and the emotional load. And I forgot to reclaim myself. My mental health has really paid the price.

To be a better person and mother, I needed to make some changes. I needed to stop putting myself last and start prioritising me – rebuilding me.

Repairing the cracks

Leonard Cohen has written many a poignant thing. But this one about imperfection stands out: “There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in”. The Japanese art of Kintsugi goes one further. It’s the art of putting broken pottery back together with gold. If we embrace the imperfections, we can create something even more beautiful. I may have bits of me that are broken – that are cracked apart – but they can become something pretty spectacular if I take responsibility and piece them back together with gold.

Now we get to the running bit

Last year, as a co-owner of kunanyi Trail Series, I made the goal of one day participating in one of the events and becoming more connected to nature. This year, no longer an owner, I forgot about this goal for a while. And then I remembered and made all of the excuses under the sun – no time, lack of fitness, kids aren’t sleeping, health issues, covid, etc etc etc until the end of all time.

But, reaching the realisation that I need to get started repairing the cracks, it felt like the perfect project. So, I’m committing myself to the Cascade Slide 4.0. For the serious runners, that distance is a bit of fun. Not for me. I’m not a runner. I’ve never been a runner. For near on 15 years I’ve been battling with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I haven’t played sport in over a decade. When I chase my kids, my knees want to cry. But I know that I can do this. I have a game plan. Even if I walk more of it than I want to, that’s ok, because it’s more about the process of getting there than the final result.

Over the next few months, I’ll be posting about my progress: couch to 4.0 on kunanyi. I’ll be talking about the mental health benefits of connecting with nature, my practice runs with fellow runners, and building physical and mental strength through yoga and pilates.