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Personality of the week - Joey Sheehama

2024-02-08  Maurice Kambukwe

Personality of the week - Joey Sheehama

How did you first get involved in marathon?

I started because I needed to get rid of both subcutaneous and visceral fat from my body and cardio. It was the best way to do it. It was very hard at the start, and you need to commit to running even if you do it badly and not fast. Getting your body into running condition is extremely hard, but once you are there, you will enjoy the running.


Did you have any siblings or family members who inspired you to run?

My siblings and family members are not into running because they think I am crazy and running those miles is crazy. However, I have a lot of close friends that inspire me to run.


What would you say was your most memorable race?

 My first Two Ocean experiences. No one ever forgets their first Two Ocean’s experience. I have run races in Namibia, but I will never forget the first time I took to the streets of Cape Town, navigating crowds of runners, meandering through houses, running up the tough Constantia Nek, listening to supporters cheering you on, and just feeling the pulse and rhythm of Cape Town. The final kilometre is a gentle incline into the stadium and then into a cacophony of noise that makes you feel like a football player about to kick off for a cup final.


How was it for you to compete in the Comrades Marathon, and how many times have you competed in that competition?

Competing in the Comrades Marathon will always hold a special moment in my life. Running comrades is tough; it is rough; it is painful; it will shuffle you, and yes, it will humble you, but most importantly, it will teach you comradery, humanity, and how to be kind to others.


Which one is your most disappointing race, and why?

My first marathon was the Sanlam Coastal Marathon. There was no planning, no guidance, and no proper training. I just thought one could just get onto the road and start running without having to take a lot of things into consideration. I suffered from cramps. I suffered from everything, and when I say everything, I mean everything.


What was the toughest race of your career?

The Gondwana 7 marathons run in seven consecutive days in seven Gondwana lodges, tops the cherry on the cake.


How do you balance training for marathons with other aspects of your life, such as work or family commitments?

Trying to juggle everything can be overwhelming, and there will always be times when you can drop a ball, but there are a few techniques that can help make the circus act go a little smoother. Also, when you are single and have no kids, you don’t need to collaborate with anyone other than your work schedule. You can choose to wake up early to run, run on your lunch breaks, or run after work. The weekends are pretty much up to me, and running long shouldn’t be too challenging.


How do you manage the mental aspect of marathon running, especially during the later stages of a race when fatigue sets in?

Positive self-talk during a marathon replaces negative thinking. For example, if I am suffering and feeling like I won’t complete this marathon, I tell myself, ‘I am going to complete it because I have trained so hard and I am a resilient runner who can focus, fight, and cope with both physical and mental fatigue’. I will always feel better upon completion.


What role has mentorship played in your running journey? Have you had any influential mentors or role models in the running community?

Mentorship has played a crucial role in my running journey. Greg Araseb (Coach G), who is also my mentor, has been an incredible guiding force throughout my training. He has not only provided me with expert advice and technical knowledge but also infused me with the motivation and support necessary to excel in my athletic pursuits. Divas & Gents Lifestyle Fitness Centre in Khomasdal is my current home when it comes to my athletic performance training. 

Having a mentor like Coach G has been instrumental in helping me navigate the ups and downs of marathon training and performance training. He always offers valuable insights and strategies to improve my performance, whether it’s fine-tuning my running technique, setting realistic goals, or developing a strong mental game, Coach G’s mentorship has been instrumental in my development as a marathon runner. In addition to Coach G, I also have several role models who inspire me in my running journey. One of my mentors is Eliud Kipchoge, a world-record-breaking marathon runner. 

His relentless work ethic, dedication, and humility serve as a constant reminder that success in running is not only about physical abilities but also mental fortitude and character. In conclusion, mentorship, especially from Coach G, has played a pivotal role in my running journey. Their guidance, expertise, and unwavering support, combined with the inspiration from role models like Shalane Flanagan, have helped mould me into a runner. With the guidance of Coach G and the inspiration from my community, I continue to grow as a marathon runner while constantly pushing myself to achieve new milestones.


Every runner faces setbacks. Can you talk about a particular challenge you encountered and how you overcame it, both mentally and physically?

Last year, while preparing for my race, I received a diagnosis of bronchitis, and my doctor instructed me to cease running and prioritise my recovery. Knowing that I had paid and signed up for this big race was my biggest concern, and just like that, my whole plan had to completely change. Other than that, now this is where you need to remain strong and focused, move to Plan B, and use positive self-talk to statey motivated. I incorporated a different routine while I was still keeping fit, and I did more strength training and swimming until I was cleared to run again.


Looking back at your running career, what are you most proud of, and what moments bring you the greatest sense of accomplishment?

My proudest moment and achievement as a runner is learning to love it. I’ve also shared podium moments with our Namibian elites. I have been on the podium several times in our local races and I am one of the first ladies in the country to have completed seven marathons in seven consecutive days.


How do you stay motivated during long training sessions, and do you have any tips for fellow runners to stay motivated?

Just the fact that I can run for an hour, let alone hours, is an achievement that commands a price. Tell yourself that you are unique and ready to do this. I stay kind and positive towards myself from the start. I set a running target, have my routes planned in time, and tell myself I will cross that bridge, and I can do it.


What advice do you have for someone who is considering taking up marathon running in Namibia or elsewhere?

Goal setting: set an achievable short-term goal, identify your weaknesses, know your strengths, do what works for you in terms of fueling, eating, etc.,  and learn positive self-talk methods. For example, I am doing well to have completed 10km alone. Teach yourself to be disciplined and determined, and finally, ‘Just do you’.


What are your goals and aspirations as a marathon runner in the future? 

I have set a goal; I have set a target to tick off one of the biggest ultra races in South Africa, which is the 100 Washie Miler, which is a 161km run from Port Alfred to East London in South Africa and training is underway.

2024-02-08  Maurice Kambukwe

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