Fitness is about more than physical health - runner
BEFORE the break of dawn each day, Louise Hayes laces up her sneakers and hits the pavement.
Affectionately nicknamed "4.20" by her adult children in reference to her routine alarm, Louise will without fail run about 7km each morning and up the ante to about 13km on weekends.
The 47-year-old's dedication has made her a regular among the top 10 runners in The Morning Bulletin Kick the Kilos challenge.
But for Louise, her participation is just an extension of her own fitness campaign, which she began in 2011 after she "reached the peak" of her weight gain.
Now, five years on, her fitness regiment is near religious and she has shed an incredible 65kg.
But for the Uniting Care community domestic and family violence specialist, fitness is about more than physical health.
"I am a big believer in that it is really good for your mental health," Louise said.
"They talk about the serotonin levels and warding off depression and whatever else.
"I notice the difference if I don't get up - how gloomy my mornings are if I don't have that chemical injection of exercise."
Louise said The Morning Bulletin's campaign appealed to her competitive streak; not only on a personal level, but she
hopes to see Rockhampton trump the rest of the state.
"I saw it (Kick the Kilos) in the paper a couple of Saturdays ago," she said.
"I thought, 'I may as well, I am up every morning, I may as well add the (Strava) app'.
"CFM (radio station) were saying where we were in the situation and that we were only fourth, I thought 'right I need to put in a little bit of effort'.
"I go out there every morning and see people walking and I'm thinking 'I hope they have their apps on and are contributing to Rockhampton's statistics'.
"Then even if you are not that competitive it gives that reminder that I better put in my little bit for my town, it might give you another incentive to get up when your alarm goes off."
In her tireless efforts, Louise has discovered another benefit to the early morning runs.
"If you get up at that time in the morning you don't have to worry about magpies," she said.
Louise said while her peers in the top 10 are predominantly walking and running group members, her regiment is more about consistently doing a smaller amount of kilometres, and fitting them around her busy schedule.
"I have just graduated to a no children living at home any more," she said.
"I had already set that routine and my partner starts at 6.30am... we both have our daytime jobs and he also runs a self defence Rhee Tai Kwondo martial arts class - I join in that and help him train and teach kids self defence and adults at night.
"So early morning is the only time I have to get up and do those kilometres."