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Interview with Aria Clapperton AKA @runliketheclappers

Aria Clapperton, also known as @runliketheclappers is a runner and TikTok creator from Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. With over 39,000 followers and 1.5 million likes on the app, Aria is known for her fun and candid approach to running as she documents her training in the lead-up to the Tarawera Ultra Marathon 102km in February 2023. We caught up with Aria to discuss her journey with running and TikTok.

Tell me a little bit about your running and fitness background: how did you first get into running--did you always enjoy it?

So I’m definitely not a natural runner, I wasn’t a runner at school or anything. I took up running in 2011 because my whānau was going through a really tough time and this took a massive toll on my mental health. I started walking first and then as I got fitter, running

and I used it as a tool, because it was such a stressful time I would bank any thoughts I would need to process and save them for running. In the beginning, running was just for me, I wasn’t interested in entering any events or marathons, it was just a tool to get me out of the house and improve my mental health.

I would say I have a love/hate relationship with running, I go from enjoying it to not wanting to run for six months, and that is how it has been over the last decade. But it has become a permanent fixture in my life and passion over the last 18 months!

Why did you start your TikTok and where did your name @runliketheclappers come from?

I started my TikTok in May last year, I’d just done the Rotorua marathon which was my second marathon the first being the New York marathon in 2019. My sister asked if I wanted to do the Tarawera 102km Ultra Marathon and I thought ‘sure, why not.’ So I created the account as a platform to hold myself accountable and post my progress anonymously. I wasn’t expecting anyone to follow it, and I never thought it would blow up!

My TikTok name comes from an old colleague, we were talking about what we’d name our racehorses, my last name is Clapperton so my colleague said I should call mine Run Like the Clappers. I never got a horse, but I liked the name and banked it for later!

What has been your biggest running/triathlon accomplishment to date, and what is your dream run or goal?

In February this year I ran 65km around Auckland which is the furthest I’ve run, but I’d definitely say that my biggest achievement so far has been the Taupō 50km ultra marathon which I completed last month. I mentally needed to do the 50km to see where I’m at to train for the Tarawera Ultra next year as it’s a massive step from running a marathon to 100km. However, I would say that for every event I do, even virtual ones, I get the same sense of satisfaction and achievement when I complete them.

In terms of my dream run, my sister and I recently took 30 people to Rarotonga for the Round Raro Road Race. I like marathon adventures, and the idea of incorporating travel and adventure into a run, so maybe the Big Five Marathon in South Africa!

Aria during the Raro Road Race

What do you enjoy most about running?

As I mentioned earlier I bank a lot of my thoughts for my weekend long run so it is a great tool for staying both physically and mentally healthy. I also love being outside, and taking the time for myself, listening to a podcast, music, or nothing! I find it nice and freeing to run alone.

You are continually running and training for races and events. How do you stay motivated to keep reaching goal after goal?

I always have to have a big goal, and the big goal for the entirety of my TikTok has been the Tarawera Ultra Marathon which unfortunately got cancelled this year due to COVID-19. But I know that to reach that goal I have to have other smaller goals and events in the lead-up which keep me motivated for my big goal.

Running injuries have become the plague of the modern-day runner. Have you had any bad injuries or blisters?

During the Taupō marathon, I was totally fine, with no aches, blisters, or physical pain and I put that down to all the strength training I did. But I did the Hawkes Bay marathon a while ago and I swore I would never get blisters like that again! The shoes that I love running in are designed for the road, not the fine gravel which was the bulk of the terrain of the Hawkes Bay run. About halfway through I knew I had developed some horrific blisters. I couldn’t run for weeks after because I was so sore. I was wearing WoolAids all the time for the recovery of the blisters because they’re super comfy and move with you. They stick on well but they’re also breathable so I know the healing process is still happening underneath.

You’re quite candid about your emotions on your runs, how do you overcome those mental struggles?

I am absolutely very candid about how I’m feeling, I never want to create content that is curated, and I don’t care about not showing the best version of myself. 87% of my audience are women so I think it is the responsible thing to do to be real with my viewers. Often when I run I feel physically fine, but mentally it’s a struggle, but if I’ve made a decision to do something I rely on that and push through. It is that sense of achievement at the end that keeps me going and I also want to finish for the people that follow me!

You can check out Aria's TikTok's here

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