Meet the amazing Phoebe Hurliman, a 31-year-old mother of two who defies the odds in the world of ultrarunning. Phoebe's journey into the world of long-distance running is nothing short of inspiring. With no prior running background and not a hint of athleticism during her school days, Phoebe stumbled upon her newfound passion just four years ago. Her story is a testament to the transformative power of running and the unwavering determination of an individual to chase their dreams.

Tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a 31-year-old mum of two, who started running 4 years ago. I have never had a running background and wasn’t sporty in school, so it's definitely not a natural thing for me. I was on my way to the gym and decided to see if I could run 10km, which at that stage I hadn’t run further than 5km. To my surprise, I did it and instantly fell in love with it. I fell pregnant shortly after but continued running throughout pregnancy as this was a major benefit to my mental health. After the birth of our son, I started training for my first marathon and completed that 8 months later. However, by this stage, I already knew I would go down the ultramarathon path as I am a very extreme person and like to seek out the toughest challenges. Three months later, I completed my first 50km and since then have completed 9 ultramarathons ranging from 50-130km.

What motivates you to train and compete?

I am motivated to train and compete because I have finally found my passion in life. Ultrarunning has awakened something inside of me I didn’t know existed. It brings me so much happiness, joy, and purpose in life. Before running, I never knew what I wanted or what I even liked, and now I feel like I finally found myself and my true love. I am also a highly competitive person with myself, and I push myself to be the best I can be. I am a pretty tough critic of myself, and if I don’t think I’m doing well enough or if I’m not achieving the goals I have set out, then I focus on that and don’t let myself stop. I have big goals for my running which, quite frankly, are very out of reach and unrealistic, but I have something inside of me that is telling me it’s possible, so until that stops, I won't stop trying to achieve them. I work very hard and always have, and now I look at my running and training as if it were my job. I have to show up and do my best even when I don’t want to do it. Having that outlook makes the late-night treadmill runs a lot easier.

How do you handle setbacks? 

I think setbacks are great because they teach me what I should and shouldn’t do. I don’t have a coach, and I learn best from trial and error, so I strongly encourage setbacks as this is when I learn the most. Generally, in the lead-up to a race, I want to have most of my long runs fail because it gives me the time to problem-solve and work out the issues so that on race day, I am prepared to solve any issues that arise. Yes, setbacks can be tough mentally, and they definitely can give me a few days where I get disappointed, but what I gain from the setback is so much more valuable than not having it. I think this year is a great example of that. I set out this year to podium at all or multiple events, and I have yet to podium at any of them but always come in just behind. It taught me a lot and makes me grind and work even harder.
Can you describe your training and preparation routine?

My training block is generally an 8–12-week block depending on the event. For my harder races with higher vertical gain like Hut2Hut, I prefer a longer build because it requires more strength, and it is quite an intense training session, so having a longer build will be more likely to avoid injury. I generally start around 60km per week before building up by 10km each week, peaking around 120-130km. However, each training block is done based on how my body is feeling and responding to the load. My current training block has looked very different. I have had a very busy year of racing, and my body is feeling it, so I have really pulled back and will only be peaking around 80km and focusing more on strength and vertical gain rather than distance.

How do you prioritise recovery amd what are your favourite recovery techniques? 

Recovery is something I find a bit difficult. I am a very busy mum who is very active with her kids and also a solo parent for two weeks out of the month as the kids' dad is a FIFO worker. I try my best to get the sleep I need, but what is sleep when you have kids, right? I am generally training at night as this is the only time to fit it in. My go-to for recovery is the peak performance mini massage gun, saunas, and making sure I have two rest days per week. My recovery routine is something I want to work on and get better at; however, I just consider myself always in 'active recovery' with all the running around the kids and I do together.

What role does mental preparation play in your performance?

Mental preparation is one of the most underestimated components of racing, I believe. Throughout my whole training block, I mentally envision the race and how it is going to play out, the result I want, and me running through the finish line. I envision it every long run I do and repeat it over and over again. I believe this is one of the best things I can do in my training because it makes me believe I can do it and gives me the drive to achieve it. When I envision the run through the finish line, I get all the same feelings I do on race day, and it helps my performance for that workout. I believe manifesting what you want and then dedicating every day to achieving that goal can result in you getting what you’ve dreamed of.
Also, a big part of mental preparation in training is understanding where your mind is going to go and how you're going to handle it and control those moments. Having those hard training sessions or long runs that go wrong is great practice for these moments. We never know what is truly going to happen in 100km+. Anything and everything can go wrong, and our mind can be one of the biggest reasons that we DNF. Our body will follow what our mind tells us to do, so it's in those low, painful moments in which you think you can’t continue is where you want your mind to be strong and pull you through.

Who are your role models?

My biggest role models are Courtney Dauwalter, Sally McRae, Killian Jornet, David Goggins, and Lucy Bartholomew. I spent hours watching YouTube videos of them when I was pregnant and training for my first marathon. These people truly inspired and helped me through some very tough times and helped me realize what is truly possible and to never stop going after what you want. I look to these amazing humans daily to help motivate me.
Where can we see you compete next?

I am competing in my final ultra race of the year at Feral Pig Ultra in WA in two weeks. I completed the 50k there last year and reached the podium. This time, I'm challenging myself with the 100km distance. It is a race known for its brutal heat conditions, and this year promises to be quite intense. I'm not nervous at all, haha. Following that, I will be taking on Hut2Hut in February, seeking redemption.
If you want to follow Phoebe Hurliman's journey, you can do so on her social media @Runwithphoebs_ on Instagram and TikTok for all her running adventures. 

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