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BUAC Bios: Sabrina Sinha

After hearing from Adam Day previously, this BUAC Bio is written by endurance athlete, multiple English Schools' winner and British international Sabrina Sinha. Written during the second lockdown, Sabrina covers what motivates her, and gives an insight into her running in a year which saw her set multiple personal bests, and secure a second successive top-20 finish at BUCS Cross Country.

Hello, my name is Sabrina. Honestly, writing this bio was hard, but important for myself as I did not realise how lost and unmotivated I was in Lockdown No. 2 until I wrote this. Sometimes we need to be reminded of why we are, where we are and how we got there. Hopefully, this can help someone going through a hard time, whether Covid-19-related or not. So, here is my story…

Sabrina winning English Schools' XC for Kent

To get to know a little bit about me, I will take you back to the very beginning. I would have to say my ability to run was discovered at Leeds Castle in 2004, when instead of having lunch, young me decided it was much more fun to run around in circles again and again and again, or at least this is what I am frequently told by my family! However, from my memory it is a more boring origin story, one of copying my older sister and following her into our local athletics club, Cambridge Harriers. I was fortunate from a young age to do well and gain national and international titles, but to me athletics was also so much more than the medals I won; it was an escape from being bullied at school over many years, and running became a part of who I was.

Women's 4x800 team from the 2018 Birmingham Relays

Unfortunately, as some of you may know, I became very ill in 2016 with an illness called endometriosis. Running, which had become my coping mechanism to be happy, was taken away and turned into my source of misery. When looking at universities, while I wanted somewhere to push me academically, I’ll admit the running group was the main reason for my university choice.

I knew I needed somewhere that had a high-quality but friendly group, and one with a supportive coaching network, one that could be supportive during my toughest days as I tried to come back from my illness. Little did I know how tough it would get. I cannot even put into words the difference the coaches here and my friends have made. I found a support group when at many points I doubted it was possible outside of my own family.

Sabrina celebrates with Sarah Chapman (909) after winning BUCS 1500 silver in 2019

Over my time at university, while each year I got ever so slightly better, healthier, closer to who I was before the start of my illness, it was never enough. As more time passed, I doubted if it would ever happen. I was losing hope. The problem is - you know that quote, ‘It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get back up’? Well no one ever tells you that when you get knocked down to your lowest point, and you have scrapes all over you, and you look up into the eyes of whatever pushed you down and say ‘not today’, you just get knocked down again. That every time you think you have made it back up, there will always be someone or something else saying ‘not today’ back at you. I guess for some people this must be what 2020 felt like, but for me 2020 was actually my salvation, as for the first time I started to feel more like my old self after years of constant pain.

Sabrina (310) leading Maisie Grice (312) at BUCS Indoors

When the first lockdown came, I was very fortunate as I had just competed at the British Indoor Champs and felt like my old self for the first time in AGES. At first it was not hard to motivate myself, I was running quite well so that even without a cross country or track season to plan for I could enjoy running. However, as time went on it got harder, I was doing the same routes, same sessions, all by myself. I just ticked off each day, got out and did what I could do, pushed myself here, took it easy there. When the opportunity came to race over the summer, I knew I had to, despite all the Covid-19 restrictions and precautions in place. I just had no clue how it would go. You can imagine my surprise when I got a PB (even a pre-illness PB!) in my first 1500, after so many years of wishing and being let down I still do not believe it. I went on to PB in the 800 and again in the 1500, and the best bit was that it was all down to me, no bells and whistles, just going out and running on my own with no one to push me or measure myself against.

Sabrina leading the 1500 on her way to 2019 BUCS silver

The moral of my story to anyone going through a tough time (and just as equally for current me as I still find it hard) is go back to the basics. To ask yourself why you started running in the first place. Ask yourself why you continued, and ask yourself, what person do you want to be remembered as? (Someone that gave up or someone that fought?) Every time the going gets tough, ask yourself, ‘What if?’. It can even be small. ‘What if I don’t run today?’ If you need a break, whether for mental or physical reasons, do it. Finally, there is the big question. ‘What if I give up?’ Personally, I cannot live with this one. I’d rather try and fail then spend the rest of my life questioning what could have happened if I had fought and persevered. I may not make it back to the top, but I like to tell myself, what a hell of a story it would be if I did!

Sabrina can be found on the Power of 10 here.

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