Take Shane Crawford back to the very beginning of his glittering AFL career, before the Brownlow Medal and the 305 games for Hawthorn Football Club, and before he claimed the premiership flag for the Hawks in 2008, and you’ll find the four simple words that carried him through it all: just have a go.
“That’s what my mum would always say; just have a go. She was always about doing your best, and that’s a lesson I try to teach my kids now,” Shane says.
“It’s probably the greatest lesson I’ve ever learned. Life is about hard work, dedication and sacrifice, and I learned it all from my mum, who is a true inspiration.
“She’d go off to work on a farm in the morning, then come back at midday and go the RSL club where she would work until 12 o’clock at night. And she did it all while trying to keep an eye on us ratbags.”
Most people might think 17 gruelling years playing AFL would be enough hard work. But for Shane it was just the beginning. So in 2010 he launched the That’s What I’m Walking About campaign, where he half-ran, half-walked the 780km from Adelaide to Melbourne, raising about $ 400,000 for the Breast Cancer Network Australia.
“I did that to get away from the kids,” he laughs. “No, I decided I’d love to do a run to raise some money, and so I got stuck into training.
“I know how to train, but I didn’t know how to train to run 80km a day; I didn’t even know if I could run 80km a day. And if I could, could I back it up and do it again the next day?
“So to train I’d fill up my backpack with water and a change of clothes and food, and I’d just go. And if I’d run so far I couldn’t make it home then I’d get on the train until I was close enough to shuffle back.”
With that epic feat behind him, he then decided to up the ante, riding the 3600km from Melbourne to Perth in just 22 days.
As a father of four boys, Shane could just about fill his own junior football team. But the AFL great says there are more important things than ensuring his kids follow in his laced-up boot prints. Like most parents, he just wants his kids to be happy, healthy and active. And in news that will surely come as a crushing blow to Hawthorn fans hoping the next generation of Crawford talent will carry them to another premiership, Shane says there’s every chance an AFL ball won’t feature in their future.
“I just want them to get the best out of themselves,” he says. “I really don’t care if they play AFL — I really don’t.
“I just want them to have a go and be happy. They’re the driving force for me. I want to be around them, I want them to like me, and I want them to be active, because I think it’s a really important ingredient for getting the most out of life.”
HACKING LIFE CHANGES WITH SHANE CRAWFORD
• Follow your heart: “It was the end of 2008, and I felt like I could probably play on for a couple more years, and I was fortunate enough to be offered a new contract,” Shane says. “But I just knew in my heart it was time. My dream was to play in an AFL grand final and win, and it happened after 17 years of playing, and I just knew it was time to look at what’s next.”
• Do you: “I’ll never forget my introduction to being a part of live TV,” Shane says. “I sat there on my first night, and there were five different cameras and I had no idea where to look or what to do. But the biggest thing I’ve learned is to just be yourself. And don’t forget to breathe.”
• Train smart: “Life is all about quality, not quantity. And that’s something I learned from football,” Shane says. “I used to overtrain, because I always thought more was best. But it’s all about quality. And that’s not just football, but in all aspects of life.”
Can we talk about exercise gear? It seems like you need to be a millionaire to be able to afford the latest sneakers, gym clothes, compression tights and all that stuff. Do I really need a wardrobe full of expensive gear just to go the gym?
Great question! And the answer is no, you definitely don’t. Exercise clothing is a huge and booming business, and if you believe the hype then you’ll think you need a $ 1000 outfit just to hit the gym. The truth is that, unless you’re climbing Everest or running an ultra-marathon, you can train in anything that makes you feel comfortable. Just make sure your shoes offer enough support to ward off injury.