Let’s hear it for Laura Henshaw! The KICgirls.com co-founder, law student and model is killing it at life – and doing it all with a megawatt smile. She’s starring on the cover of our running issue this month, so we asked her to spill her secrets to smashing big distance goals, dealing with injury and staying positive.

On tackling big distances

I did a 33km run last year for charity, which was really hard. But what I find in a race, or a fun run or a half-marathon, whatever it may be, the atmosphere is so motivating that you can do so much more than you thought you could do. I had a goal and I had to get there. And it’s funny when I got to the 33km I could not have done one more, but that’s because I told myself in my mind that I was doing 33km. I think your mind plays the biggest role with running. You can convince yourself that you can do it, or you can convince yourself you can’t. Your body can do it, you just need to put goals in place and what helps is writing it down. I put my goal distance in my diary every single week and that way, that’s my goal and it’s in my head and I can always get to it.

On cultivating positivity

I know that being angry or mad or negative uses more energy than being positive. I used to let small things someone pulling out in front of me, or someone making my coffee wrong, upset me. But you can take it two ways, you can let it affect your whole day or you think, ‘Do I really want this person’s actions or what’s happened to affect my whole day?  Do they deserve my energy?’ And usually the answer is going to be no. So I just take a deep breath and then I focus on being positive.

And one thing I love about being positive is when you are happy other people become happy around you and if you can change someone’s day from having a really bad day to having a really good day, it’s the most awesome feeling. Positive people attract positive people, I find. So it’s really important to me to be as positive as possible. And when I’m having a bad day I rely on the positive people in my life to make me more positive.

On slaying a bad mood

We all have those days and sometimes it’s okay to be like that, you have to be yourself. But most of the time I think, ‘What do I have to get done today? I have this big list of things, I can go through the day and be mad and get nothing done or I can snap out of this now, I can focus on the things that I have to get done and I know that tomorrow will be a better day.’

I suppose it’s like if you drop your phone and it gets a little crack, you’re not going to then put it on the ground and jump on it and make it worse. So you don’t want to do that, if you’ve had one bad moment you don’t want to just throw your whole day in – you just stop, take a deep breath and try to be positive the rest of the day.

On exercising for positivity

Exercise is the most important thing, I would be so much grumpier [without it]! It’s such a big de-stressor for me, if I don’t get it in I really struggle to be productive, I’m not in the best mindset, for me it’s not even a question if I do it or not. I have to do it. I also have one rest day a week, usually on the weekend. But during the week it’s the best way for me to start my day and get everything done.

And I make sure I listen to my body. I think there’s a really big difference between waking up and feeling ‘I can’t be bothered doing a workout’, and waking up and feeling really tired and rundown. So if I wake up and I’m tired and rundown I know not to push myself.

It’s definitely about listening to your body, and not pushing past the limit that’s going to make you exhausted. For me, sleep is a really big thing. Rest is just as important as exercising itself.

On dealing with injury

Last year I really badly pulled a muscle, and I had to stop doing high-impact jumping or running for eight weeks! It drove me insane, and it was literally because I hadn’t stretched enough and my hip flexors and glutes were so tight, and I was doing squats and my back just gave in. It’s funny, you can be so focused on rehab and fixing yourself up when you’re injured then when you’re better, you forget about it really quickly. So I make sure I always remember how frustrating it was being injured and focus on that when I’m leaving the gym and I don’t want to stretch, or when I’ve just finished a run and I’m in a rush, I try to always think back to that and think I don’t want to be there again. I might not have time to do a big stretching session but I’ll do a few minutes just to make sure.

On motivating others to run

The response to the running program on KICgirls.com has been really good. We’ve had girls who’ve never run before and now they can run 5K which is awesome, and we’ve had girls who only thought they could run 5K and they’re now doing 10-12km. Everyone thinks I could never do it but we increase the distance a little every week, and I think that works because we’re telling them ‘okay last week you did 5K, but this week you’re going to do 5.5’, so they’re accountable and they want to keep up the program. It’s really cool to hear stories from girls all around the world. People learning to love running makes me so happy. I know it makes me so happy so if other people love it, it’s awesome!

For more of Laura’s running advice, pick up a copy of the May issue of Women’s Fitness, on sale now!