Meet the amazing 68-year-old taking on the Sheffield Half Marathon next weekend

A fighting fit over 60’s woman from Sheffield is ready to take on her latest challenge as she is deep in training to tackle the Sheffield Half Marathon.

By Nigel Booth
Friday, 05 April, 2019, 16:44
Barbara Shirt in training

Barbara Shirt, 68, from Nether Edge, is urging other over-65’s to follow her example and get fit after she reaped the physical and mental benefits of training for a major long-distance running event, having completed her first run at the 13.1-mile distance in 2018.

But after running the long distance event solo last year, this year she has undergone stringent preparation for the big day on April 14 – and she has set an ambitious target of completing the distance in less than two hours and 15 minutes, after initially recording a time of two hours and 19 minutes, despite subsequently struggling with injury.

Barbara, who is originally from Kimberworth, Rotherham, has been training with Sharrow-based CMP Gyms, run by personal training and nutrition expert Chris Mason.

Barbara, who works as an executive assistant at Sheffield Hallam University, feels physical activity can do everyone good.

She said: “I’ve been looking to get back into running after suffering from plantar faciitis (a form of heel pain) which can take months to recover from.

“At times I’d feel panicky when running due to the pain, which as someone who has always been physically active, is tough to take.

“Like so many others, I joined a gym to try and get fitter but was put off by the way the weights section was always crowded with men and didn’t want to make a fool of myself by using weights incorrectly.”

Barbara then started on a tailor-made personal training and nutrition programme at CMP and instantly noticed the difference – both physically and mentally.

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She said: “It’s so important for people to maintain a base level of fitness at all ages, but particularly as you approach retirement age.

“Training for the Sheffield Half Marathon has benefited me in so many ways. Physically, I’ve been transformed – my work with Chris Mason has completely changed my body.

“But it’s been crucial mentally as well. You begin to lose confidence when you get past a certain age, and this training has enabled me to get a lot of that confidence back.

“Exercise and training also keeps you mobile, keeps you active and also keeps you healthy – both mentally and physically – something that is vital as you get older.

“I’ve never been overweight but I was what you’d call ‘soft slim’ – I needed to strengthen my core to progress. And progress I did – my shape has completely changed during my time with Chris.”

Chris Mason said: “Barbara’s work has been very impressive. The level she’s at and the fitness she’s maintained, especially during the last 12 months, is very impressive.

“What she’s achieved over the last year has been remarkable and is a great example to people who are in a similar situation. It’s beneficial to the individuals concerned and to society as a whole and is fantastic to see.”

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