Melanie Warman, owner and run leader, shares with us her uniquely-named and uniquely-structured run business which is branching out across Sydney!
Tell us about yourself
I have been running for 25 years and a coach for 15 of those. After I had my son I wanted to do something different and didn’t want to go back into the corporate world. A running business seemed a great way to realise my passion and raise some much needed money and awareness for cancer research in Australia.
I started my coaching career in the UK and was qualified through England Athletics. Our local run club catered for more experienced runners keen on the stats of time and distance, and didn’t have the facilities for anyone who wanted to commence running. As a result, I started teaching complete beginners to run which provided the run club with a more rounded service.
When setting up Boobs on the Run (BOTR), I decided to coach women specifically because a lot of the ladies who come through our course (600 in the last 3 years) have never run before, some haven’t exercised for a long while, and some have never exercised and they can feel self conscious. The hardest part of the course is signing up as so often they don’t want to be seen, say they don’t have time, and many believe that maybe they won’t be able to do it. It’s great when you see women overcoming this and joining up. We only have female coaches for the same reasons and now have 12 coaches who are all accredited with Athletics Australia.
BOTR support cancer research as in Australia we still lose 8 women each day breast cancer. The mission is to get women moving so that they lessen their chances of getting some horrible diseases like heart disease and cancer. Having lost my mum to initial breast cancer, then secondary lung cancer has been my driving factor.
Tell us about Boobs on the Run
We are a women-only run club and we have 2 main courses: Get Running for complete beginners and Stay Running for intermediate runners and those who have graduated from Get Running. Then there is Keep Running, which is for those who enjoy the group environment and would still like to be coached to become better runners. Keeping the core strong is important for running too so we incorporate planks into our programs.
We have running groups throughout the Inner West including Concord, Iron Cove, Glebe, and then in Ryde. We have launched in Bondi Beach, Brighton Le Sands and Maroubra after successfully launching in Centennial Park last year. My plan is to take Boobs to the North Shore next!
We don’t just teach people how to run – we have lots of partners on board that help offer a holistic package. We have Running Science, which is our specialist go-to store for sports bras and shoes – the two most important things you need when running. Having the right shoes can change the way you run and the technology these days ensure that you don’t need to break in a pair of shoes. If you try them on they have to feel comfortable right away – if not they are not the right ones for you.
We have iMove Physiotherapy on board to help you with any niggles and Chris at Unwind Chiropractic for any structural problems. We have a lot of mums with issues with their hips from carrying their kids and Chris can help with this. We have Rachel Eagleton from Nourishd and she is a Run Leader with us too. She has run many marathons and half marathons and knows how to nourish the body for this endurance-based exercise.
Congratulations, I see BOTR is now affiliated with NSW Athletics. Tell us more about that?
We are now an affiliated club to NSW Athletics which allows people to sign up to NSW Athletics and gain access to all of their run series i.e. cross country in the winter and track running in the summer. They also host various races throughout the year such as the Sydney 10km and the Sydney half.
For your $10 membership, you get accident insurance and if you are injured through running in an event with NSW Athletics or with Boobs on the Run, all of your medical expenses will be covered and you get access to their newsletter. If you upgrade your membership to $80 you get insurance plus free access to a lot of their races. We are trying to look after our runners and joining is really a no-brainer.
Your run programs are fantastic – are they based on a specific methodology?
A lot of learn to run programs are distance based but I changed the approach to time based in Get Running and then we move from time to distance in our Stay Running program. The final run of 30 minutes continuously in the Get Running program is a much more achievable focus than on 5kms, for instance. We don’t set the pace – it’s your pace and talking pace.
Do you need to be fit to get started?
Absolutely not! We have a lot of ladies come through who may have never exercised and 95% have never run before. No fitness level is needed, it is interval-based training where we walk for a while and then run and then walk again.
What can people expect from Boobs?
You will gain friendship, you will get fit, you will eat and sleep better and in turn that goes throughout your life. You will feel more relaxed and present, less stressed, and you may even get addicted to running! The mindset change is quite amazing from week 1 to week 10 in all of our courses.
We ask people to find a positive mantra, and it has to be specific to you – we can’t tell you what that would be. Mine is simply “c’mon, c’mon, I can do this!” Your body is more than capable in achieving what you want it to; it’s your head that tells you that you can’t. We also recommend you find a power song to get the blood pumping before you come to training.
On the flip side, we do have some women who find it difficult to sleep after a run because they are so hyped up. So have a song that calms you down, a slow tune or a classical piece that soothes the soul.
We also give people a shoe swirl at our intro evening. It is a picture of a shoe that is made up of 25 swirls to put on the fridge and colour it in each time you run. It builds accountability and gives your partner a way to see that you are achieving your goal. In Get running, you will complete 25 runs in 10 weeks – one group run per week and 2 homework runs.
Can you really learn to run and start doing marathons if someone really wanted to?
Yes! Absolutely! Running is 10% physical and 90% mental! It is mostly mindset, though you do have to train to get to the 42kms but it is really a mental game. You need 4 months of intense training i.e. 4 runs a week and this includes different types such as speed work, tempo, fartlek, a long run and we also try and get people to do some cross training i.e. yoga, Pilates, swimming, cycling, windsurfing, climbing etc. so that different muscle groups are being used.
We have ladies who didn’t think they could do it and 1 or 2 years later they are running a marathon. Never say never! As a rough guess around 20% of all of our runners have gone on to do half or full marathons. That’s 120 people out of 600! Of course lots of people don’t want to do marathons but those that do get compelled to do it. One lady stated she hated the half marathon and half an hour later signed up for the full marathon for the following year!
How has the business journey been for you? What have you learnt that could help others in considering their own venture?
You have to take risks – sometimes they pay off and sometimes they don’t. There is nothing wrong with failing and it makes you a far stronger person. You know next time what to do but don’t try to do everything yourself. Outsourcing is a must for some things i.e. an accountant to do your accounts because there are pitfalls you can fall in. If you’re not a marketeer get a company on board with the process. Most of all learn as much as you can.
You can spend thousands of dollars on the many business courses out there, so find a good one that will benefit you and your business. Remember that coaches need coaching; I have a run coach, a mentor and a personal trainer who puts me through my paces each week. You have to realise that you can’t do it all yourself. Having a business coach or a life coach really does help – they see things you don’t and see things outside your perspective.
What are your goals for 2017?
I am looking to expand Boobs into different suburbs to ensure that we can get more women moving. My personal goal, as I am turning 40 in September, is to get a sub-20 minute, 5km run. Currently I’m at the 23-minute mark and have a personal trainer for strength work.
What is the essence to life, for you?
In life, it’s all about having a go! If you fail you fail but then adjust and keep going.
When my mum got diagnosed with cancer I decided to have a year of saying yes. Every time I got made an offer I accepted so long as it was not dangerous or silly. In that year I climbed Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya, I learnt to windsurf, and became a power kite instructor (on land) with a big skateboard. When there was an opportunity I just said yes. Rather than going “no I can’t do that”, I got out there and did it. It was about embracing opportunities; giving things a go and not being scared to fail. It’s about getting out of the comfort zone as that is where your fear is and when we feel the fear we need to push ourselves a little bit further.
I have heard every excuse there is not to run. All we ask of you is 3 x half hour sessions a week. A lot of people feel the guilt of leaving the kids – I remind them that they are leaving them with their partner and they are the parent as well. They can cope! They are terrified the first week but when they get into it they love it!
Favourite spots in Sydney’s Inner West?
My favourite run is Blackwattle Bay, which is at the end of Johnston Street, Annandale and then clockwise finishing with the corkscrew onto the Anzac Bridge. It is so scenic, you see amazing sunsets and it’s just a beautiful run. Plus some amazing café’s in Annandale for after the run.
The Kokoda memorial track is lovely from Concord to Rhodes and takes you past Concord Hospital around the water.