Andrea Doney – The Slow Coach

Tell us about yourself? 

My name is Andrea, I am a wife, a mum of two teenage boys, and I own two businesses. I just turned 50. I love my family, my community, my home, my neighbourhood and my cat. And I love running. I’m the slowest member of every running club I belong to. Despite more than a decade of consistency, I am duck footed, red faced and frizzy haired. I wear thick glasses and I have a mummy tummy. But you know what? I love running. It has redefined me, and given me hope and friends and sunrises and a sense of personal pride. I believe that your pace is NO BARRIER to a rich, joyful experience of running and the view from the back of the pack can be very, very beautiful. I’m an accredited running coach, a gin lover, a business owner and I have a bit of a foul mouth sometimes. I’m also determined, loyal and your biggest cheerleader. I’m in this for the long run.

What is your business or job? 

I am a running coach for the human race. I have been a runner for more than 10 years but never been fast, and despite some pretty dedicated training I have never gotten any faster. That has never bothered me, but I have been aware that the mainstream running media almost always discusses running in terms of metrics. World records, podium finishes, new carbon plated shoes. And if its not that then its how to get faster, how to get thinner, how to get stronger, how to smash a PB or defeat an opponent or some variation on the quest for relentless self improvement. Now, don’t get me wrong, those things are awesome and important to many, but not to me. And I was interested in having a different kind of conversation about running. Like, how running has made me a better person. How finishing my first half marathon defined me in terms of being proud of myself. How much I enjoy the time alone, the time on my feet, the sunrises and the new neighbourhoods and chatting to the random dogs I encounter on the way. But generally speaking, I don’t see those conversations represented amidst the plethora of photos of perfect blonde pony tails and crop tops and similar images that dominate my instagram feed.

So I decided to qualify as a running coach and offer to support runners like me. Runners without much natural ability but wanting to see what their (very ordinary) bodies are capable of. I wanted to show women how amazing it can be to get to the first 2km marker when six weeks ago you couldn’t run for the phone. Together we make our kids proud and set good examples and clear our heads and make friendships and uncover all the really good coffee shops. Running is about so much more than speed and THAT is the coaching I want to celebrate.

How long have you been in business or your career? 

Ive been a runner for about 11 years. I have been a coach for just over 1.

Please tell us what being a business owner means to you and why you became an entrepreneur in the first place? 

I love seeing the transformation that running makes in my clients lives. You can’t buy being proud of yourself. It’s not something that is ever on sale at target. But with the right coaching, information, support and encouragement, my clients see results in their lives that they never believed were possible and in turn, they take that home to their family, friends and colleagues and it has a real ripple effect on the world. Ive seen clients run for the corner for the first time, and not get puffed. I’ve seen them make it to their first 2km or 5km or 10. I’ve coached women to their first half marathon and marathon and every single one of these milestones matters because its a marker in a life that matters to the person who is living it.

Who has been your greatest influence in business or your job and in your personal life and why?

There are many. My husband is a very talented runner and has been his whole life. He is a source of a lot of information and support. But the influence that people have on me is not what you think. People inspire me because I have learned that I am fallible, and that I will not last forever. My husband was diagnosed with cancer several years ago but is thankfully now fully recovered. Shortly afterwards another dear friend was diagnosed with a brain tumour and sadly passed away a few months later. Within another short few months yet another friend lost her battle to ovarian cancer. And as I stood by helplessly and watched these three dearly loved warriors fight for their lives, and hear stories about many others, I realised that the one thing that cancer patients all long for is the one thing I take daily for granted: a healthy body. And to use it, enjoy it, test it and push its limits is a truly privilege and an honour, and a temporary one at that. 

So when I run, I think about the joy that comes from running on behalf of the loved ones who can’t join me. And I think about the fact that one day I might not be able to run either, but at least I can look back at myself and say, hey, I did well there. I tried and persevered and succeeded. And ultimately, I run because I can.

What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?

I ran 50km on my 50th birthday in lockdown. We couldn’t leave the LGA so I ran laps of my local streets. You can see the video about it here.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zs7wBxwc1Ao It was a very unusual way to celebrate a birthday but I will never forget it! I couldn’t party or travel or enter a formal race so this seemed like the next best alternative. It was absolutely awesome.

Another proud moment was being a finalist in the North Shore Business Awards after being in business for less than a year. It was a real validation of an unusual idea, and one that many people told me would fail.

What do you do to inspire other women?

I get them from the couch to the corner. I help to release the grip of anxiety and depression. I help clients lose weight, if that’s what they want. I show them what ordinary bodies are capable of. I introduce them to friends and new neighbourhoods and get them from flat to finish line.

What inspirational qualities do you possess?

I am very empathic. I am very real. I swear a lot. I ‘get’ the strain of the mental load and the intimidation of joining a running program and I provide very practical, achievable strategies to deal with this.

What’s your advice for other women that may want to do what you do?

The miracle is not that you finished. The miracle is that you had the courage to start.

The hardest part of any run is getting out the door.

Just start. A year from now, you will wish you had started today

What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to Nikki’s blog. ?

Whatever you do, or think you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it.

What do you do for fun/relaxation?

I run! Hah! I also read, meet friends, hang out with my family and have a real soft spot for gin cocktails. I am also a total geek for musical theatre so if I can’t go and watch a show, I listen to it on Spotify. I absolutely love showtunes and they really relax me.

What’s the best way for our women here to connect with you?