Influencer Riley Hemson documents her running journey

Welcome to You Got This,’s weekly fitness series featuring stories and ideas from real women who’ve experienced it all.

Riley Hemson has documented her life – including her love of fitness – on social media since 2016 but late last year she decided she would take on a new challenge.

“Running has always been my Roman Empire,” she said, referring to the TikTok trend that revealed men often think about the historical period.

She’d always been active, playing representative netball and basketball, as well as playing water polo.

“But running was always something that I just hated. Any cross country I was calling in sick. I was doing everything I could to get out of just running for no reason,” she said.

Ms Hemson, who lives in Queensland, said she understood running on the court to get a ball or defend but running for fun never appealed to her. She had tried previously and it had never stuck.

But her fiance Vita had picked up running in the last year and had become quite good at it, so she decided to give it a crack.

Previously, running 15 seconds without stopping had been a challenge. Her longest interval had been a minute.

She had a lot of preconceived notions about what running was supposed to look like – that you had to be fast, be really out of breath and it should be hard.

All of which she hated.

But now 33 days in – and able to run three kilometres without stopping – her mind set has shifted dramatically.

“I think the biggest thing to overcome for me would have been the aspect of people looking at you watching the run,” she said.

She said exposure therapy, such as running down busy parts of the Gold Coast, helped. Instead of getting negative feedback, passers-by have complimented her for running on hot days and saying “you’re doing better than me”.

“The whole time I was saying to Vita, ‘Does this even count? Can I even say I’ve run six kilometres?’ He said of course I can,” she said.

“You always think if you’re not a runner that running is a thing where you have to be super fast – especially when you see people sprinting super fast. But you have to let go of everything you thought you knew.”

People have fallen in love with Ms Hemson’s running journey and even been inspired to undertake a running journey of their own.

“It’s honestly the weirdest feeling. I’ve been posting online for eight years now, which is a long time and I’m not used to it when people come up to me and said they’ve done something because of me, it’s a weird concept,” she said.

“I’ve kind of been inspiring people to do something that I have hated my entire life – like for example I went to the ASICS store and to test the shoes the guy told me to jump on the treadmill.

“Even hearing that, like four months ago, my heart would have dropped and I just would have gone like there’s no way I can do that. So to go from that to now – seeing people go and post their runs online or want to run because of me is just so crazy.”

Currently, the enjoyable part for Ms Hemson is pushing herself to do something she never thought she could – even if she isn’t improving every day like she was at the start. Her goal for the year is to do a 10km run and, while she isn’t ready for a half marathon just yet, it is a goal she’s working towards.

She also said she will never run without a good pair of shoes, her Oakley sunglasses and her running vest that features a little water bottle in the front.

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