Team Member Spotlight: Libby Maxwell’s Trail

 In Physical Performance

A little unsurprisingly it took a hamstring strain for Libby Maxwell’s career to take a sharp turn and land her in the physiotherapy field.

POGO’s practice manager confesses she was by no means an elite athlete when she moved to the Gold Coast but it was jumping aboard the parkrun phenomenon that put her on a collision course with Brad Beer.

“When I moved to the Gold Coast I was not a runner at all,” Libby said. “I was working in a garden centre – my background is in horticulture – and on my boss’s desk I saw a flyer for something called parkrun and it was launching in Australia.

“I didn’t really know anyone because I was new to the Gold Coast and I went to have a look to see what it was all about.

“I loved it. It’s a 5km course every Saturday and I walked and jogged the first time. Everyone was so friendly. It didn’t matter who you were, what your job title was, everyone was the same and you just fit in straight away.

“I went back every week. The day I was able to run the whole 5km course for the first time was the biggest thrill and immediately I thought ‘ok, I need more now’.

“So I aimed for the 10km at the Gold Coast Marathon weekend.”

Libby admits she never does things by halves and the way she took to running was no different.

Libby admits she never does things by halves and the way she took to running was no different. #performbetter @pogophysio Click To Tweet

“I went 5k, 10k, half marathon, 30k, 100k in about 18 months,” she said.

“I’d entered my first solo 100km trail race after doing the team run in the Kokoda Challenge and during the training process I pulled up with a really bad hamstring injury.

“I didn’t know Brad really well back then when I was the event director at Main Beach parkrun. I just knew that he was Brad from POGO, he ran there and usually came first, every week, because he’s very fast.

“I got chatting to him after the run one day and I just mentioned that I had a hamstring thing going on and what I had coming up and he just said ‘just come in and see me’.

“Brad asked me about my work during a treatment one day and when he found out I was looking around he said ‘we might have some admin stuff coming up so why don’t you drop your resume in to our practice manager and we’ll go from there’.

“It just snowballed from there.

“Everything lined up in my favour … when things are meant to be they’re meant to be.

“It went from an admin position, to a senior admin position to practice manager all in a space of about three weeks.”

The 38-year-old has been in the role for about two years now and loves the day-to-day challenges presented by the position, enjoys being part of the recruitment process for new staff as well sharing the journey of POGO’s clients, the “heroes”.

“My main responsibility at the practice is overseeing the admin team,” she said.

“Because we’re big on a gold-standard customer service there’s a lot to remember for the admin team in terms of procedures.

“I believe we have the ‘customer is our hero’ side of things down pat, they’re fantastic at it.

I believe we have the ‘customer is our hero’ side of things down pat. #performbetter @pogophysio Click To Tweet

“Other things I’m involved in are client experience and customer journey … making sure our clients receive the appropriate text messages and emails. And I look after our clinical diary as well for our physios.”

Libby said the entire crew at POGO gets a kick out of celebrating the successes of their clients and aims to make them feel comfortable and at home during every visit.

“When someone really commits to their rehab we see them almost on a daily basis so they become such good friends and part of the POGO family,” Libby said.

“And we are so invested in their progress as an athlete and when they do have those little successes, regardless of how big or small they are, we’re just so happy and excited for them.

“When they reach their Finish Line we are over the moon for them.

“Yes, we’re a business but our main priority is the people.

“We want to see people able do the things they love to do and we’ll do what it takes to get them there.”

Libby sheepishly confesses she could talk all day about running and if she takes a call when the front desk is busy she loves nothing better than when the caller turns out to be a runner, or more specifically a trail runner.

“If they are a runner I get so excited and I could talk to them for ages,” she said.

“I get where they are coming from because I’ve had the injuries. And I think people really appreciate talking to someone who knows where they are coming from.

“As far as running goes, I run on the road as well … but trails all the way.

“There’s something about going out into the forest and as soon as you step in there you feel like you are home and you can take a deep breath and relax.

“Trail running is so much more of an adventure because you have to be switched on the whole time. If you don’t you might trip over something or roll your ankle.”

The gruelling nature of the races Libby tackles and the training required to get her to the start line injury-free means she limits the big-ticket items to one a year.

The group Kokoda Challenge took 22 hours for Libby and her teammates to complete four years ago and triggered her desire to tackle a solo race because she knew she could push herself harder.

The spectacular North Face 100 in the Blue Mountains (19 hours) was next, followed by the Glass House 100 (17 hours) the year after that, then last year she did the Coastal High 50 from Springbrook to Binna Burra.

“I like the mental challenge more than anything, having to tell yourself you’re not hurting and that you can keep going,” Libby said.

That translates to Libby’s personal development in two years at POGO as well.

“I had no leadership skills whatsoever when I joined POGO,” she said.

“Being stretched and learning those skills from someone who is as inspiring, motivating and supportive as Brad has been worth it and our finance manager Chris Weatherall has been a real mentor as well.

“I’m so happy with where I am right now.”

Neale Grundy

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