Many of you know Lizzi Rogers from her exploits as an around-the-world traveler, chronicling her adventures for “Dude!” magazine, so when I arrived at her house after her first competitive race to talk with her, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Usually world travelers are fairly messy and live very spartan lives. Well, she was definitely messy, but she immediately disarms you with her warm personality and seeming ability to have it all together. Join me as I found out about the beginning of her career as a professional athlete.
Good morning Lizzi!
Congratulations on your fabulous finish in the Go-Go-Glow run. Just a few questions…
1) What was your training method for the race? Donuts? Long walks on the beach?
That’s pretty much the way I started! Back in April, my ExplorerFriend and I decided we wanted to get fitter, so we began walking together each week, for one hour; pushing ourselves to see how far we could get. This turned into walking with running-y bits, then running with walking-y bits, and for me, finally, just running. For usually more than an hour, because I’m not great at judging my distance so tend to over-shoot whatever distance target I was aiming for, just in case.
2) The event raised money for Cancer Research UK. What’s special to you about this cause?
One of the things which is so amazing about them is that they’re not tied to one specific kind of cancer, but they support medical research into over 200 different kinds of cancer. Because every single one of them sucks. And cancer is so, so prevalent it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the numbers. I’d wager that everyone knows someone dear to them, or dear to someone they know, who has had it – who has maybe died from it – and it’s really tough, because the researchers (I know one IRL) are often struggling to find grants to continue their research.
Basic scientific research, as well as the cancer-specific research, is what will help here. Without the building blocks of basic knowledge of the disease, its antecedents and manifestations, we can never hope to fight back against it effectively. Cancer Research UK wholeheartedly supports the people who are trying to make headway against it.
3) In the spirit of the event, you wrapped yourself in a long line of glo sticks. How’d that work out for you? Applause? Pictures for the local newspaper?
I did get a lot of photographs taken of me. Inadvertently though. And by the end of the run (sadly) all the glow sticks had pinged off. I did get some compliments from the stewards though, who were amazed at the sheer number of them as I walked in.
It still didn’t look *quite* like my dream though:
4) Many athletes cite an inspiration for what they do. What inspires you?
For me, not ‘what’, but whom.
Dyanne inspired me with her story of bravery and warrior-ness as she battled (still battles) breast cancer. She is definitely my main inspiration, because in spite of the horror of all she’s been through, she remains determinedly and stridently optimistic, and her hope, through her blog and through her person, is that she can reach out to others who end up in the same situation, and offer them some guidance, support and care. She’s already done so, so much for others, and continues to share generously of her incredible spirit, raising awareness as she goes.
She also shares the occasional utterly harrowing experience she’s been through as part of her fight, and the things she has seen, and the way her heart hurts for the other people who go through the battle, the way she talks of her guilt for being a healthy survivor, makes me upset and angry and wishing I could DO something to make it stop. And this race, in its small way, helped. A tiny bit. I hope.
Kerri is another source of inspiration. She’s a veteran runner of 5k races (and further distances) and has provided the encouragement to go out and try to keep up (ish), which I have been pleased to have the challenge and the target of.
Kate also inspired me, by running in a 5k race with Kerri and making it sound like so much fun.
And our very own K2, who also runs races and supported me through my training, saying that I’d be able to manage this, and more! (I’m still not convinced, but perhaps…)
Of course, I can’t forget Emma, who has trained with me since April.
5) Your Cinema Friend made a video of your run for his YouTube channel for the world to see. In light of your new celebrity status, tell us, who designed your outfit? Armani, Gucci, Stella McCartney? And who did your hair and makeup?
With all the lights and sparkles at the beginning? It could only have been the very fabulous Julien Macdonald! The hair and makeup were all my own (can’t you tell?)
In fact, my ‘celebrity’ status got quite a kick up the backside because he ‘tweeted’ about my race and one of his Tweeps (anyone heard of Charles Trippy?) re-tweeted him. Charles Trippy has nearly 350k followers. Including Ellen DeGeneres. So, WOW! But he’s also a guy who’s just been diagnosed with brain cancer, so he KNOWS how important this fight is, and was very generous to lend his support. I truly hope that his own battle is swift and victorious.
So, with no further ado – THE VIDEO
6) Although this was a run for charity, there was still a “race” factor at work. How do you mentally prepare for that kind of competition against hundreds of other runners?
I made sure I got myself near to the front of the group of runners when we started, and I determined that I was just going to KEEP RUNNING! And I tried to make my speed a bit faster than usual. I focussed on a runner ahead of me and tried to keep pace. I sang the one line I can remember of Amy Winehouse’s ‘Rehab‘ in my mind to operate as a metronome for my footfalls. And I slogged. I really freakin’ slogged.
7) Along with new celebrity status, there certainly comes a price. Tell us a little bit about how you deal with paparazzi at your door every morning, following your every move throughout the day.
Well to be fair, most of them bring me presents and bribes to give them photographs and interviews. Uh, what did you bring me? Nothing? Well, that kinda sucks! Not scoring any points there on the ‘pap’ front, M…
At the moment they love peeking through the windows into my untidy house as I sit here at the laptop in my unglamourous clothes, surrounded by clutter and many empty mugs of tea, and snapping ‘THE REAL RUNNER’ and ‘SHE’S NOT AS ‘TOGETHER’ AS SHE THINKS’ kind of pictures. Which is fine, because it means I can maintain my current levels of untidy for a while longer.
8) You completed the race in 32 minutes. What advice would you give to those who are thinking about becoming runners? How long did it take you to work up to running a longer distance?
Find a friend you can train with. Keep trying, keep pushing yourself a little more each week. Get GOOD shoes to run in. Keep track of your distances and see them improving. Try to find some people to encourage you, or to hold you accountable for getting your butt out there and DOING it. This took me 6 months, and I’m now able to run much further than 5k in one whack, which is awesome.
And just get out there and do it! It’s good for you, and it’s free!
9) How long do you think it will take you to forget all the little people you stepped on who helped make you a celebrity?
I’m obviously HUGELY massively famous now, so I don’t really need any of my old friends; I have newer, shinier ones who are just LEAGUES ahead of…
*giggling too much to continue*
Are you kidding? There are no ‘little people’, and I hope to goodness that no-one felt stepped on! Well, only in an awareness-raising way, yaknow? Because when it comes to cancer, there really are no ‘big’ or ‘little’ people – it’s absolutely indiscriminate in who it attacks, and friendship or fame or status or public admiration (or lack, thereof) is rendered totally irrelevant.
10) As a community minded individual, why do you think it’s important to get involved in a cause about which you are passionate?
We are a social species. We are designed to be in relationship with one another and build connections and communities. The very manner in which the thing we devote most time to is communication – our languages are constantly evolving, changing, adapting to include the New.
But with inclusion comes the inverse, and the beginnings of the process of marginalisation. Added to which, over-exposure to anything renders it less shocking. We are nearly as good at building walls as we are at making connections.
We’re also great at depersonalising, and it’s easy to talk in terms of ‘them’ and ‘other people’, and utterly fall into the trap of ‘Monkeysphere‘ thinking, finding ourselves unable to truly CARE. And yet somewhere, within them, each person carries an ember for other people. Call it compassion. Call it humanity. Call it divine spark…
The more we listen to that little voice inside us which tells us to act for and on behalf of other people, the better society will work, for the good of all. We are (to an extent) built for altruism, and there is a pleasure and delight to be gained from doing something selflessly. See item 6 on this list of Ten Simple Things You Can Do Today That Will Make You Happier, Backed By Science.
When we get involved with causes about which we’re passionate, so far as I can see, it helps us in the following (non-exhaustive list of) ways
- Setting and achieving goals is good for the spirit and the self
- Where the goal involves physical work, it is good for the body
- An enormous sense of well-being can be garnered from helping others
- You know that you’ve made a difference, which encourages a sense of self-worth
- Where the cause is worthy, your actions to support it may well inspire others to join in, so contributing to the overall success of that cause
- You can assuage your feelings of guilt (if you are so inclined to have these) for your abundance
- Engaging in selfless effort for those who have some kind of need will help to remind you of your own blessings and (perhaps, hopefully) lack of ‘need’ in those areas.
- Because YOU make a difference. You ARE the difference. And that matters.
Thank you so much for your time, and we hope that when you win the NYC Marathon, you’ll still grant us another interview.
Melissa, I will always be happy to be interviewed by you. And ‘grant’ is such a haughty word, isn’t it? I’m just pleased to be part of it all, alongside those who have supported, encouraged and sponsored me to this wonderful achievement of having done Something Real to help 🙂