Our learn to run training with Operation Move – big progress!

Learn to run - our progress with Operation Move - Champagne Cartel
Woman On Winter Run Through Woodland

We are halfway through our Learn to Run program with Operation Move, and shit is getting real. We are stretching out those running intervals, and shortening the pleasant walkie bits. We run 3-4 times a week and check in with our group and coaches Zoey and Katie in our private Facebook group. (As I write this post, I have just read that, sadly, Katie will be moving on from Operation Move – she will be sorely missed, but I know Zoey is strong enough to carry this world on her own. She does Cross-Fit.)

I thought we’d give you a little update on how we’re doing, and I invited the winner of our Operation Move competition – who gets to come on this ride with us for nothing but a bucket of sweat – to share her journey so far as well.


150805 megan daley


Four weeks into Operation Move’s, ‘Learn to Run’ course and whilst weight has not magically melted from my body as I had hoped (I can dream) and I am still not feeling the love for running…I certainly AM moving more than I have in a very long time and I am finding I am sleeping better and have more energy in general. I have been keen to try running for the longest time, for a number of reasons including: I am so busy that just mentally listing everything I try and fit into my life makes me feel queasy (best not to list things, best just to DO); I love the idea that running can be done whenever I have a spare 40 minutes in the early morning, or more often than not, late at night; and running requires no particular equipment – as you can see from the photo I’ve not even invested in lycra!

I’ve liked the accountability to a group – in this case a group of total novice runners and a few runners who are starting out again after injury or a long time not running. Part of me thinks I need a bit more accountability – for a week there I didn’t post anything in the closed Facebook group – but I’m trying hard to keep up with posting and fitting in my three runs per week. Things I’ve discovered about running:

  1. an app or even just a smartphone to time is essential because I am so exhausted that all I can do is focus on moving forwards so to not have to think about times and intervals is a blessing
  2. an International Homestay Student is a fabulous running accessory – I can leave my small children to play with her for 40 minutes while I slam out a run as opposed to using my children as an excuse to not run which is what I’ve done in the past
  3. a muscly dog is also a great running accessory, I did one run without my staffy and realised how much he was pulling me up the hills
  4. running can be improved, you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other
  5. it’s best not to compare yourself to those runners who pass you with ease on the footpath
  6. running is in no way shape or form a bonding activity with one’s husband if one’s husband has been running every night for over a year – it is just frustrating and soul destroying-  even when they are being super encouraging and keep stopping to wait for you.

The group of ladies in the closed Facebook group have been so encouraging and it’s been so lovely to read of their successes and failures each week – it is motivating to know there are people online going through all the same dramas you are as you learn to run and learn to make it a part of your everyday life.

Megan Daley has her own blog over at Children’s Books Daily. And I love the fact that she resisted the urge to change the word ‘Daily’ to the spelling of her name. It shows she’s a spelling stickler like me, and those are my people.


150804 Gill running

When we were thinking about signing up for Operation Move, I was completely traumatised about it. I mean you have to understand the context: I would be signing up with CAROLYN. She has run a HALF MARATHON. She is also about 19 metres tall, is lithe, bouncy, has perfect boobs (probably not relevant) and can stride like a gazelle. It was disturbing I tell you. Especially considering that I am about 4 foot nothing tall, have tiny stumpy legs and mini feet, have boobs bigger than 3 litre milk jugs (it’s amazing I can even stand up). I’m sort of like a human dacshund.

And I can’t run. I mean it. I am completely physically challenged, I’ve never been able to run. I’ve come last in every some race I have ever run in my entire life. In my high school years I spent all my time in the art room or the pool, never on the track. And in my twenties I spent my time in pool rooms, learning the art of potting the black with a skinful of beer and a mouth stuffed with cigarettes.

Anyway. Here I am. When you read this I will have finished week 4!!!!! And it’s been going OK to be honest. The facebook group is lovely and provides fantastic support.

My boobs aren’t totally thrilled but I am investing in some new boulder-holders. I had a fantastic conversation with some amazing big-boobed running women on social media, I’m calling us the #bustyconsortium (I reckon that hashtag is going to take off!) They have provided some fantastic advice, so I’ll go and test some new scaffolding.

I still can’t run. I feel like Shrek in my tight running gear. I find hills terrible. I get puffed easily. And my legs feel sore and weak a lot of the time. Some days it’s cold and I don’t want to go and some runs are way harder than others. But apparently that is all part of the running game.

Maybe I’m starting to understand why people are so infatuated with running…. it’s the sense of achievement I think. The fact that you get out there every week and do it. One foot in front of the other. There is something pretty amazing about that.


150804 Carolyn running straight

I was running long distances last year. As Gillian said, I ran a couple of half marathons and was starting to think about signing up for a big one. But then I had some back issues, and my physio told me to stop running for a bit. I did, and I had about five months away from my trainers (and had a full set of pretty toenails to paint – after continually losing them all through running season).

That’s my official story – and all of it is true, but there is something else that I have been battling, and that is my monkey mind. After I finished my second half marathon last year, my brain basically started to eat itself. I couldn’t stand being out running for long. My long runs shortened to 10km, then 5km, and then when my physio told me to stop running, I could have kissed her. I had an excuse!

My back is still a bit dodgy but what I have found is it actually feels better when I exercise, so I’m doing reformer pilates, yoga (when I can) and the Operation Move program. The gentle baby steps are great for not freaking out my delicate brain, and the camaraderie of checking in with, and encouraging, the other women is really awesome. Plus, Zoey and Katie are there to answer questions and ensure everyone is on the right track, and not pushing themselves too hard. There are loads of women in there who have had disruptions due to illness or travel or other life events, and everything is adapted for them so they don’t lose their motivation or feel like they’ve fallen behind.

There is something wonderful in a runner’s brain that will always remember how to run (I guess it’s like riding a bike – HA – sorry), so I haven’t yet reached a stage that has been too hard. I’m listening to some pumping tunes to keep me bobbing along, and the bite-sized chunks are exactly what I needed to get back into running, and I plan on taking all this further when I’ve finished this program, for sure.


The verdict? So far so good from all of us. And as much as Gillian talks herself down, she is actually doing really well. I’ve been out for a couple of runs with her and she is killing it. Although next time we go out, I am going to be thinking I’m taking the dachshund for a walk…

By the way, If you’d like to learn to run with Operation Move, you can sign up for their next course, starting September. Are you ready?

Are you a runner? Any tips for newcomers?

P.S. Have you subscribed to our Champagne Cartel Inner Circle? You get a weekly dose of bubbly goodness right there in your inbox so you never miss a thing. Plus we’ll send you our free e-book 10 Ways to Beat Overwhelm. Join us here.

Written By

Carolyn is the editorial director of Champagne Cartel and a freelance writer. In her spare time she is a long-distance runner, peanut butter enthusiast, and single mum to three incredible humans.


  • Fantastic stuff! I am new to running (if you can call it that yet). So far it’s just on the treadmill (can’t use winter weather as an excuse and I can keep an eye on the Little Mister), but I can’t wait to get outdoors later this year (when my husband slows down with his cycling a bit and there’s more time for me to get out). I just celebrated being able to run 1km without stopping! I hope I can nail 5km by the end of the year.

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