Leanne Sheill

“Growing up I avoided sport at all costs, skipping every sports day and regularly producing notes with reasons not to attend P.E. I started running at 24 after losing 2st at slimming world and realising that I could eat off-plan providing I ran a 5k each day. I became a little obsessed with the distance and had no desire to run any further… if regular short runs achieved what I needed them to, why would I run any further?

I attended a party a few months later and my friend’s sister was telling us about a 10k race she had in the morning. I found myself thinking ‘why can’t I do that?’ so decided to ask her more about it. She told me she was a member of our local running club and invited me to go along with her. The Tuesday after I went to my first intervals session. Naturally my anxiety was through the roof, all I could think was ‘I’m going to be the slowest and make a fool of myself’, reassuring myself with ‘hey, at least I’ll never see these people again’. 

I loved every second. From the P.E.-style warm up’s to rainy sprints and cheesy cool-down jokes. There were people of all ages and abilities who shouted ‘well done!’ as they passed you, it opened my eyes to how sport can empower people rather than what was my previous experience, it having to be focused on ability and competitiveness.  

I’ve been a member of Hedge End Running Club for 18 months now and I’ve found the sessions I love the most are those that are the most challenging. There are people of all abilities, who inspire me in different ways all the time. A year into joining I had completed the Hampshire Road Race League (HRRL), my first half marathon and signed up to run the 2020 Brighton Marathon. 

In the past two months, my relationship with sport has evolved further than I ever imagined. I had no idea the challenge I was taking on when signing up to run a marathon, how it would impact my diet, my social life and how constantly exhausted I would feel.

I found new appreciation and understanding for the human body. The science behind my training was working: eating the right carbohydrates, not drinking alcohol and scheduling slow runs to train different muscle fibers were just a few of the changes I made. All of a sudden, I felt like I was flying when I ran my Tuesday interval sessions and heading out for a 10k was just like the ‘easy’ 5k runs I’d do if I were having a bad day. 

I ran my first 20 miles in late February where I experienced absolute exhaustion for the first time. I was so fatigued that I felt as though my brain function had halted, I remember thinking ‘your legs are going to give way, you need to stop’… but somehow my legs kept moving. It was at that point that I felt confident I had the muscle memory to carry me through the 26.2; my training was working.

Today (19 April) I was meant to run the Brighton Marathon but it was cancelled last month as a result of the coronavirus lockdown. I was completely devastated by the news and in the weeks that followed, lost all motivation to run and found myself drinking and eating a lot more. However, I couldn’t shake the need to do something on behalf of all the people who had donated to my fundraiser. 

I knew with the current measures it wasn’t sensible to attempt the full distance on my own, so headed out for a 14-mile run and made up the final 12.2 on my bike. Conditions were so perfect this morning that I ran my fastest half marathon, 20k and 10 mile; I’m convinced that if the marathon did go ahead I could’ve achieved the sub-4 I was hoping for. 

This summer is due to be a busy one so I’ve decided not to run the marathon on its new date in September, I’m secretly hoping for a spot in London 2021! I feel at peace with the situation now and am grateful for what my training experience has taught me.”

 

Thank you from the Humans of HIIT community for sharing your story!

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