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  • Writer's pictureKarla

Meet the runner - Sarah Shedden

I often see Sarah out running with her lovely dog in the mornings. It's been nice to bump into someone during lockdown for a socially distant chat. She told me about marathon training, the social side of running and how running provides an escape.

I am a secondary school Geography teacher and have been teaching since I was 22. I run for Winchester and District AC and train with the senior endurance group. My coach until recently was Alan Coveney although he has just retired. I have always run a bit socially but after having three children I decided that running was a good way to get back in shape and shed a few excess pounds! After a lot of persuasion (I didn’t think that I was the right type of runner to be a member of a club -a very misguided view as I now know that WADAC is for all types of runners) I joined WADAC in 2011 and it was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. As well as the obvious benefits of the training and team camaraderie, I have met so many fun and interesting people, had many laughs and made some really special friendships. My most recent races before lockdown were the Wokingham half, Wimbourne 20 and Hillingdon 20 - all part of my training for London Marathon.

My normal training week involves two club sessions; Tuesday at the track or doing shorter repetitions and Thursday a longer endurance session. I do a long run on Sunday and run easy miles with the dog on Monday and Thursday. I also really enjoy Bodypump classes at a local gym and aim to do this twice a week. I do a little strength training at home; I don’t enjoy it that much, but I do it as I know it has a positive impact on my running.

My favourite session involves long intervals at my threshold. I enjoy pushing myself and feeling like I have had a good workout. I enjoy following a training plan, pushing myself and finding out more about how to become a better runner. I’m injured currently so lockdown has been a good reason to rest and take the pressure off racing. However, I am terrible at resting even when I know I should be, similar to so many others, running is good for me mentally as well as physically. When I have had a stressful day at work, the first thing I want to do is go for a quick run. I often sort out lessons in my head as I am running along and any problems always seem so much better and manageable by the end of the run. My family tell me that I am much happier and a nicer person to be around when I get home. I ran my first marathon in 2012 which will always be special. Even just a couple of years earlier if asked, I would never have thought that I had the ability to run a marathon. I still have my finishing time on the fridge.

I loved running the London Marathon again in 2017. My friend Sarah Gurney and I trained together and also ran the first half together before losing each other in the mass of runners. Somehow though, we managed to cross the line within seconds of each other - both smashing our goal at the time - it was a really happy day.

Other runs that stand out for me include the Amsterdam Marathon, a really fun weekend away with some girlfriends from the club. The marathon was good too! And I always enjoy the Clarendon running event, I have run the half marathon quite a few times but particularly enjoyed being part of the relay event in 2016.

I've had a plenty of performances that I have not been happy with and I have definitely had the ‘why do I do this?’ question in my head when a race has felt too tough or isn’t going as I had planned. My most disappointing performance would have to be in the Chester Marathon 2017 when I had to pull out at mile 20 due to injury and it is the only race where I have ever had DNF after my name. The St John’s minibus took longer to get me to the finish than it would have taken if I continued hobbling along. However, for all the bad ones, there are so many more which are good, with very happy memories and which each time reaffirm my love of running.

My favourite bits of kit are my Garmin Fenix 5s and Lululemon running shorts.

I loved reading Paula Radcliffe's autobiography My Story So Far - really inspiring. I’m currently reading 26.2 miles to happiness which is very funny. The author (comedian Paul Tonkinson) attempts a sub 3-hour marathon - a goal that I set myself too, it makes me laugh out loud as I can relate to so many of the highs and lows that he describes.

I often lose my running mojo but not for long! It usually happens when it is a busy time with work, I am not getting as much sleep as I would like and running starts to feel like another thing to fit in when there aren’t enough hours in the day.

I just eat normally but I do aim to have a healthy and balanced diet. I also take calcium tablets, cod liver oil, glucosamine and a multivitamin. I am interested in nutrition and how it effects my running performance but have a lot to learn still.

I don’t have a running philosophy, but I always remind myself how good I feel whenever I do run, even if it is a day when I am not really feeling the love for it or when the weather is just not nice. That helps to get me going and out of the door.

I don’t love any other sport as much as running – nothing comes close to that sense of freedom and escapism that running gives me. However, I do enjoy indoor cycling as an alternative to running and a way of maintaining my fitness when I can’t run due to injury or when the weather is simply just horrible!

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