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Success Stories

Amber Phillips

When I was 23, after 15 years of playing basketball, I got a bad back injury and after months of treatment was told it wouldn't get any better and I'd never play basketball again and that I would never run again.


After 5 years of sulking, I decided that my injury was at a manageable stage and I had unfinished business on the basketball court. I knew that I needed to get fitter and stronger than I was to get back to the level I was playing before my injury and for that I would need the help of a good personal trainer.

After an extensive Google search I came across Plan B and I instantly knew this was where I had the best opportunity to get back my strength and fitness.

I joined Plan B in October 2010 with the intention of doing boot camp for a month to kick start my fitness. After the first week I wasn’t so sure - I was so far out of my comfort zone. The first month was tough and although I was always dead last and could barely complete the long runs I never felt like I was getting left behind.

After a month I decided to just come back for one more month of boot camp. I'd seen such great improvements in my strength and fitness in one month then another month would just make sure I was ready to return to basketball. I am now a regular part of the Plan B family.

On a trip to Hawaii in December 2010 the marathon was on in Waikiki and I set myself the goal that in 2011 I would return and run the marathon. I knew that I would have the support of Plan B to help me achieve this goal and set out make 2011 the year I returned to state league basketball and run a marathon - the two things I was told I would never do again.

I began 2011 at boot camp and kayaking fitness sessions. I was set to start the year with some swimming and completed my first open water swim in February with the 1500m distance of the Brighton Jetty Classic.

The next goal on the swim calendar was 1500m for a Plan B team at the Victor Harbour triathlon but unfortunately two weeks before the triathlon I fractured my elbow whilst playing basketball. I was told swimming was not an option.

Fortunately I was also told that whilst it wasn't recommended, I could run. So I traded my goggles for my running shoes and ran 10km for one of the Plan B triathlon teams. This was the furthest I had ever run. It was tough and I was underprepared. All the other Plan B team runners passed me at some point along the course. Every single one of them encouraged me to keep going and the last Plan B runner, Anita Carey, wasn't prepared to leave me behind and she pushed me to finish the last 500m with her.

This is what sets Plan B apart from other fitness groups. We are competitive within ourselves and with each other, but everyone always encourages everyone else. Whether you are the slowest of the fastest, the group is always pushing you and encouraging you.

I completed a couple more 10km runs in the first part of 2011, and after finishing one in June I got a call from my basketball coach to say that I had made the team to play back in Division 1. I didn't hesitate to take the opportunity to achieved one of my two goals for the year.

Unfortunately more injury setbacks throughout 2011 meant my marathon training was behind schedule so I reluctantly bought a bike to help ease off the legs but keep up some training. The day I bought the bike Plan B’s Bec Hickson texted me to tell me I had another challenge to work for - I was now also aiming for the Challenge ride at the Tour Down Under in 2012. Despite having not ridden a bike for about 17 years I didn't hesitate to take up the challenge. I knew that if Bec thought I could do it, then I'd have the support from Plan B.

In October I ran my first half marathon at McLaren Vale with Plan B trainer, Denise, there high fiving me as we ran past each other on the out and back loop. By November I was ready to take on my first 100km ride completing Amy’s Ride and tackling the dreaded Old Willunga Hill.

By this time, basketball season was over and I happily hung up the boots and retired. I had now committed to swimming the 1.9km leg for a Plan B Anaconda Adventure Race team and got back in the pool and the ocean with the other Plan B swimmers.

Just two weeks before leaving for Hawaii I was back on the bike taking on the Gear Up Girl Challenge riding from the city, up Mount Lofty and back. And just two days before leaving for Hawaii was the Anaconda Adventure Race in Lorne. The conditions weren’t ideal to be out in the ocean swimming but I made it through the 1.9km course and he 400m beach run to send my team’s kayaker out into the ocean swell.

Again the encouragement and cheering from the other Plan B competitors was there. All team members helping each other in transition. There was a lot of hugging and high fiving in transition, everyone at Plan B gets so excited for each other to reach a new goal.

I was finally ready to take on my biggest challenge for the year and head to Hawaii for the marathon. For the days leading up to the run I had endless messages and words of encouragement from everyone at Plan B. I knew the marathon was going to be tough, but I also knew I had a heap of support back home and knowing that made the idea of running 42.2km a little less daunting. I also had my one person support crew of Kelly Biggins with me in Hawaii to help keep the gang updated of how I was going, and to give me food at the finish line.

The marathon was hard, and it was slow and it took a long time. There were times I wanted to sit down and stop and cry and give up but the whole time I knew that the Plan B gang back home were willing me to get across the finish line. I knew they understood how important crossing that finish line would be to me and I used the energy of all the words of encouragement to keep going.

When I came down the last hill and saw the finish line I had a renewed energy because I knew I was going to cross that finish line. I spotted Kelly in the crowd and high fived her and few strangers before the “sprint” to the finish line.

I was now a marathon finisher, and although it wasn’t fast and it wasn’t pretty, it was done and it was something no one could tell me I couldn’t do anymore.

Getting back to the hotel and seeing all the messages as I crossed different check points and the congratulations that I had finished was awesome. I know it was a boot camp day back home and to know that everyone was as excited as I was, was amazing.

Since coming home from Hawaii I have ridden the 138km Tour Challenge ride and done the swim and ride leg of a sprint triathlon.

My future is full of swimming, riding, running, triathlons and adventure races and none of this was something I ever thought possible until I came to train with Bec and Plan B. Every session with Plan B challenges me physically and mentally and I am achieving things that I never thought possible.

Bec is amazing at inspiring and motivating me to keep going and keep setting goals, with someone like her behind me I feel like nothing is impossible. I have never met anyone so passionate about helping others achieve goals, no matter how crazy they might seem.

All members of Plan B are setting and achieving amazing goals and there is always someone there to go for a ride or a run with. The Plan B family is amazing and I cannot believe how much my life has turned around since doing that Google search.