When café owner – and proud member of the Better Than Ever family – Anthony Pollina started out on his journey toward running a half-marathon, he would have never predicted exactly how difficult he would find the task. He was forty-one, overweight and had never run close to a half-marathon.
‘It’s been the easiest challenge of my life’, says Pollina while taking a brief moment away from barista duties at Dulwich café White Picket, one of his five coffee shops dotted around Adelaide.
‘We started on the first week of May’, continues Anthony, ‘started with 2 km runs, and I was knackered after running two k’s. Went from two to five, then within twenty-eight days I’d run ten kilometres’. Within three months, Anthony had gone from knackered following a short run to completing a half-marathon with very little in the way of pain after the big run.
“It’s been the easiest challenge of my life”
In fact, the most painful experience of the whole process was his socks.
A new pair of gym socks caused Anthony’s feet more pain than he could have anticipated when he made the choice between dirty socks and the untested pair on the morning of the run.
‘I thought “I’m not going to run with dirty socks”’, explains Anthony. ‘At the end of the marathon I was almost bawling my eyes out with pain, not from the marathon, I wasn’t short of breath or anything like that, my feet were hurting so bad. It wasn’t until I got home and took my socks off that I realised that I put a new pair of compression socks on and it killed me’.
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How to go from nothing to a half-marathon
Before he started running, Anthony found himself slowly putting on the kilograms. As is often the case, the problem stemmed from factors that felt beyond his control.
By the end of 2017, Anthony had three children, was managing five stores and had fifty-five staff working for him. Like anybody in his situation, time was disappearing from his day and it was his health that would begin to come last on his list of priorities.
Anthony points to three factors that led to exercise taking a back seat: ‘sleep deprivation, no time to exercise and poor food choices’. It’s a common story that sees many people simply accepting their somewhat out-of-breath) fate. However, Anthony saw an opportunity to turn things around, with a little help from Better Than Ever’s Tony.
Anthony credits Better Than Ever for encouraging him to complete his first half-marathon, although he’s quick to point out the difference between encouragement and pushing.
‘I’ll say to him “my feet are hurting” and he’ll say “that’s okay, you can run through it, it won’t get any worse, I promise”, and he’s right’, says Anthony about Tony. ‘Everything he says during the race, all comes true. He’s run so many of them’
‘There was an older couple in front of me and I thought “they’re doing alright”, he says “don’t worry, we’ll pass them”. 18 km mark out of 21, they’re still in front of us. He says “don’t worry we’ll pass them”, and at the 20km mark we slowly passed them, and we beat them’. And not only did Anthony pass the couple, he beat his personal best by eight minutes.
Start enjoying the journey
Throughout his journey, Anthony’s focus has shifted from numbers and losing weight to simply running, which he’s enjoying more than ever.
‘Now the goal for me is just to run, I’m not focussed on my weight any more. Clothes fit me better, I’m comfortable in my own skin, which I’ve never had. I’d been so focussed on those numbers, it got in my head. What Tony did was let me find another focus, instead of the primary motivation for me to lose weight, it’s now just to actually do it and run’.
Apart from simply running, Anthony’s other motivation is now to help others. Whether they’re his friends, his staff or his wife.
‘I do have this desire to help, Tony’s helped me, now I want to help others. Anyone who says they can’t do it, I’ve done it! I’ve not run this much since I was seventeen, and even then I wasn’t running this much…I mean, two hours of running, where’d that even come from?’
Do you find yourself feeling the way Anthony felt before he started running? Start your journey to becoming Better Than Ever now!