For Joanne, life’s challenges are like a marathon: no matter how difficult things are, perseverance is essential. This “marathon mindset” has helped her overcome many life’s difficulties.

Joanne li

With a career as a social worker spanning over 2 decades, Joanne has completed 2 part-time master's degrees and is a mother to 2 children. When not working, studying or looking after the kids, she enjoys going on early morning runs to clear her mind for the day ahead.

Her Strength - Joanne - Decathlon
Her Strength - Joanne - Decathlon

How did you get into long-distance running?

From 2011-12 I reached a low point, and I wanted to set myself a goal to get my life back on track. I saw an advert about the Nagoya Women's Marathon on 8 March 2015, and I decided to take the plunge and register. I had done running before off and on, but it was only to control my weight and I hadn’t followed any structured training program. After registering, I spent 6 months training by myself without a coach. I managed to complete the 42 km race, which is equivalent to running from Chai Wan to Shenzhen!

Her Strength - Joanne - Decathlon
Her Strength - Joanne - Decathlon
Her Strength - Joanne - Decathlon

What’s your ‘strength’?

I love taking on new challenges. Overcoming challenges and difficulties helps me grow as a person – I love that feeling of knowing that all your hard work has paid off. Last summer I had to submit 5 essays for my master’s degree, as well as doing my full-time job. It was such a  tough period! I used my “marathon mindset” to work my way through each essay – I started by writing the first one, and then moved on to the second task, and so on, just like in a race when I tick off each stage and tell myself that I’m almost at the finish line.

All challenges present an opportunity. Reaching a low point in life made me get into running, and I got lots of messages of support when I shared my experiences online. When I injured my foot, sports venues were closed due to the pandemic. As I decided to try hiking, lots of mums my age were inspired to do the same. I’ve no desire to become a KOL – I just want to do my best. I hope that I can be an inspiration for other women, regardless of their jobs. You have to learn not to bury yourself in work or family life and make time for yourself, no matter how busy you are!

Her Strength - Joanne - Decathlon

Learn to find your rhythm and enjoy the process, not just the results.

Her Strength - Joanne - Decathlon
Her Strength - Joanne - Decathlon

What are your favourite decathlon products?

No set of running gear would be complete without a comfortable pair of running tights. I’m a big fan of Decathlon’s 2-in-1 shorts/tights set – they look really stylish and elegant. The tights are great for women – the seamless design reduces chafing, and the fabric wicks perspiration away to keep you dry. In terms of hiking gear, I really like Decathlon’s compact trekking poles. The quality is excellent and they are very reasonably priced – all 4 of us have a pair at home, and they’re really useful for our hikes.


2-In-1 running shorts/tights

Leggings with integrated shorts to combine low weight and coverage for those who like the support of tights, without being too revealing around the bottom.


Compact trekking pole

Foldable, durable pole to support you on your long hikes.


Running hand flask

The valve projects water directly in the mouth. Keep your flask handy with the strap.

What’s the purpose of sports? As Joanne’s story shows, exercise can help us relax and improve our perseverance and endurance. Regardless of your starting point, the most important thing is to enjoy yourself and make sport part of your life. Don’t worry about winning or losing, and you might be in for a surprise – like Joanne, if you try your best, you can go a long way. There aren’t many things in the world that can be achieved overnight, but with time, anyone can make small amounts of progress add up to something extraordinary.