We are WONDERWOMEN: Sarada’s Story

Welcome to WE ARE WONDERWOMEN, a series of short stories from inspirational women who swim, run and cycle amongst us. Ahead of International Women’s Day on Monday 8 March 2021, I’ll be celebrating the achievements, talking about the challenges and sharing tips from a variety of women across our sporting community.

If you’re looking for some track Tuesday motivation then look no further than former track athlete and founder of DASH Sprint Club, Sarada Ochen. Sarada juggles training, motherhood, general life and running a business all with bounds of energy and enthusiasm.

I first met Sarada at a DASH sprinting workshop and ahead of Manchester Marathon she kindly took me under her wing and taught me that speed work, and particularly sprinting doesn’t have to be scary. She has a natural ability to enthuse those around her and give them the belief that they CAN sprint. There are so many things that Sarada has taught me that stick with me every time I run.

Hello Wonderwoman! Tell us a little bit about yourself

Hello! I’m Sarada, a (former) track athlete and founder of DASH Sprint Club. I love all things track, mainly athletics, sprinting in particular – I’m built more for speed than distance. I’m currently navigating life as a new mum, juggling my own training, coaching and running a business and can safely say running cures sleep deprivation!

How did you get into sprinting?

Sprinting is one of those things that you know you’re good at from a young age – you know you’re faster than most people at school and you get such an adrenaline rush from running fast. I went along with a friend to my local track at around 14 and began training and competing. My friend actually dropped out but there was burning desire inside me that wanted to just carry on – I just loved the feeling of fast!

What is your biggest achievement?

Creating DASH for sure. As I got older, I realised I wasn’t really a competitor anymore, although training was going great when it came to race day – it just didn’t come together, and honestly I probably wasn’t mentally strong enough. I felt pressure to perform and I just wanted to run for the joy of running. So DASH was a safe place for everybody to do just that – not judgement, a place where you can define your own version of fast. It’s allowed me to connect with so many different people all over the world and given me the opportunity to Coach people that have fallen out of love with running.

What inspires you?

100% other women and their achievements. Particularly now as a new mother. You understand the effort, persistence and positivity it takes to achieve. There are now so many successful female entrepreneurs out there all with different back stories and paths that we can learn from.

What motivates you to get through a challenging session or tough point in a race?

With a challenging session I always think “just complete it” and once I’ve done that once it gives me the confidence to get better each time. In a race the focus is always on being faster or trying to win. It has to be single-minded and you just have to keep going.

What do you think the biggest challenges for women getting into sprinting and what advice do you have to help overcome these?

I think it’s finding a safe space where they feel comfortable doing it. So many women are self-conscious in what they’re doing because of the image society puts out there and this need to live up to perfection. It’s easy for us to say “don’t worry about everybody else, you do you” but what goes through our minds when we are training / working out is very different and it’s hard to silence those inner voices. My biggest tip is keeping the routine and consistency – almost force yourself to get out there because the only way to gain confidence is to keep doing it over and over again. And this is so true of beginners. I mean, I got bought a pair of roller blades and practised in the back garden for ages because I didn’t want people to see me in case I was terrible and fell flat on my face! The reality is nobody is even watching.

Media images of different women from different background and different bodies has started to improve but we are still a long way off. We need to be seeing far more real women, with real stories and be championing them.

What are your top three tips for women getting into running or sprinting

  • Set yourself a realistic goal (i.e., I’m going to complete 10k)
  • Be consistent – keep trying bit by bit. Walk and run if you need to start slow but whatever routine you have set yourself, keep following it.
  • Trust your body. There is no rush, start slowly and build up – your body will tell you when it has the strength to go further and faster.

Do you have any final words of wisdom?

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to always achieve. Keep relaxed and enjoy the process, the more relaxed you are the more you will achieve anyway.

Thank you for sharing your story and tips! You can catch up with Sarada via her Instagram page or the DASH Instagram page, where there are loads of helpful tips and technique insights. If you’re interested in getting into sprinting, or just incorporating some structures, fun and friendly speedwork into your weekly running, be sure to head over to www.dashsprintclub.com

Don’t  forget to check out tomorrow when I’ll be talking with GB Age Group Athlete Alice Thomas on balancing motherhood, multisports and discovering her love of cycling.

And if you missed yesterday’s instalment, check out Hadeel’s story here.

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