“Growing up, I didn’t really understand the benefits of exercise. Now I know how much it helps my mind calm down on a busy day, and how much better and more energised I feel when I move my body!"

As a self-confessed ‘not very sporty’ young girl who loved art and dance, Sharn never imagined that one day she would be a proud advocate for sport and training 6 days a week for her first triathlon! And while getting here has been a journey of mental and physical ups and downs, Sharn has overcome her fears, learnt the power of consistency and commitment, and found a deep inner strength she never knew was possible. “You have your good days and your bad days, but keep showing up!”

The Jersey Triathlon Club Ana Leaf Try-A-Tri event takes place each year and consists of a super sprint distance of 400m swim, 10km bike and 2.5km run. The 2023 event was the 7th annual event and attracted people of all ages and abilities from across the island. Whilst some competitors are sometimes proficient in at least one of the disciplines, for Sharn, taking on this event has meant learning to swim, moving past a fear of cycling, overcoming back pain and learning to put herself first.

Like many people who grew up without regular access to swimming lessons, Sharn didn’t fully learn to swim as a child, “I used to hold my nose and use one arm!” – so, learning to swim as an adult brought up a whole new set of fears and worries. “Joining the Move More Beginners Swim programme was exactly what I needed. I was really nervous beforehand, but the team are so supportive and allow everyone to progress gently, being consistently mindful of each individual’s fears while teaching them techniques that will allow them to progress. It was a real game changer for me, and helped me overcome fears and worries I’d carried since childhood.”

“Growing up, I didn’t really understand the benefits of exercise. I knew I loved dance, especially the social aspect, but I never had that endorphin rush. Now I know how much it helps my mind calm down on a busy day, and how much better and more energised I feel when I move my body. I wish I’d known about the benefits of exercise during stressful periods in my life – like doing exams as a teenager or during university.”

In her mid-twenties, Sharn took up running as a way to decompress after work. Her job at the time meant she was often on the sidelines at big sporting events with a clipboard or a stopwatch and, while she wasn’t ever competing, she loved the energy and excitement and always thought “I’d love to do that one day!”.

Sharn gradually started running distances of around 6km, but then – as is often the case – other things in her life took over and she stopped prioritising her training. It was her step-mum who encouraged her to get back into running, and would join her and friends for morning runs before work. With the encouragement and support of this new group of runners, Sharn and her step-mum entered the half-marathon and completed it together the following spring. “I’m a bit of an all or nothing person and went from being a beginner to running a half-marathon! It was so amazing to train with other people and the biggest thing I learnt was consistency, commitment and always showing up for myself.”

Moving her body regularly has helped Sharn to overcome back pain that started around 6 years. “Some days I was in pain when walking and it took its toll on my emotional wellbeing. I tried everything, including different types of medication, the 6-week course at the pain clinic, physiotherapy and acupuncture. In the end, it was a combination of daily movement and chiropractic treatments that worked best. I still get occasional pain, but exercise keeps my mind and spirit high!”

“I know it can be difficult, but if you are struggling with pain I really recommend starting with some gentle exercise, like walking or swimming, so that you keep moving every day. If you feel yourself focusing on the pain, that seems to make everything worse! So I highly encourage other people to try moving, and see if that helps you too!”

Before signing up for the triathlon, Sharn admits she never had a lot of self-confidence and worried about not being good enough at sport which led her to staying in her comfort zone and not giving things a go when she really wanted to. Joining the training group for the Try-A-Tri has helped her to push herself to new limits. “Everyone was so supportive, and we even have our own WhatsApp group. Training together with a mutual goal brings people together of all ages and abilities. Each of us had our own fears and barriers that we were breaking down!”

Cycling was one part of the triathlon discipline that Sharn was worried about after falling off her bike two years ago and feeling scared to get back on. “I had to get past that. I had to get back on and trust. Now, I’m amazed at myself! I’ve cycled 45km and I’m so impressed! It really is amazing what we can achieve when we try.”

Despite Sharn’s obvious pride in her new accomplishments, she still comes up against challenges and has to consciously work on her mindset. “Before my first swimming session with the Try-A-Tri, I had a complete meltdown, but I got out of my head and went in the pool anyway. It’s easier said than done of course, but having the support of a training group – like the Try-A-Tri group, or a programme like Move More Jersey’s Beginners Programmes in swimming, cycling or running – makes it so much easier.”

Signing up for this year’s Triathlon event and committing to a regular training plan has helped Sharn to learn so much about herself: “I realised that I’m so much stronger than I thought I was and that’s given me more self-belief and self-confidence. I’m a naturally organised person and that’s like a fifth discipline in itself when getting organised every day with the right pieces of training gear and food. I leave the house with almost everything except the kitchen sink! I’m also very good at scheduling and sticking to training sessions and I love encouraging others too. Being able to support other people in the training groups is such a great motivation.”

Whenever you step out of your comfort zone and try something new, you’re also going to come up against your weaknesses, like hearing that inner critical voice. When this happens, Sharn has some great advice: “Trust the process. Keep showing up. It really does get better and better. Don’t let fear or anxiety hold you back and try to not compare your journey to someone else’s journey. We’re all so guilty of that! The next time a swimmer, runner or cyclist speeds pass you, don’t worry! Your journey is your own, and you should be proud of yourself and your achievements.”

Playing sport, or taking part in fitness and sporting challenges like the half-marathon or triathlon, has so many transferrable skills and benefits that support us in our physical and mental health and wellbeing – which ultimately helps us to live a happier, more fulfilled personal and work life. “You’re never too old to learn or try something new. There are so many people who never had the luxury of swimming lessons as a child, or owning their own bike, so Move More Jersey’s programmes really help tackle these issues and give everyone the chance to be more active, more often, and at any age! I’ve only just discovered that for me, cycling to work is a brilliant way to get some exercise, work towards my training goals and play a role in reducing traffic and pollution.”

If you’re inspired by Sharn’s story and If you’d really love to learn how to swim, run or cycle, or take part in a new sport or fitness event, you’ll find all the links below:

Move More Swim Programmes

Move More RunTogether Couch to 5K

Move More Cycle Programmes


Jersey Triathlon

You can also listen to Sharn’s podcast with Sportscast Jersey, here.

If you’re interested in trying other sports, take a look at our Sports Directory, or visit our Move More Jersey Directory to find a list of all the physical activity groups in the island you can join.