A long-time runner, Shaunna Randolph got serious about running when a bout of depression kicked in. She used running and nutrition to come back, find balance, and heal on her terms. Now training for her first marathon while living a slightly nomadic pandemic life, Shaunna digs deep and shares what running has given her and what helps her have a great run.
What Drew You To Running?
Running was something I always did well. It was easy for me, just like breathing. But I never thought about running distances until I hit a horrible, debilitating bout of depression. Psychiatrists wanted to prescribe medication to help me function and remember what it was like to “feel normal.” The thought of being dependent on these white bitter pills—chemicals—disgusted me. I believed that a large part of depression had to do with chemical imbalances. It was important to teach my body how to find that balance. I wanted to do that by eating right and exercising. It was the only thing I felt I had control over. I wanted to be in charge of how I healed and stayed healthy.
One night, I suddenly remembered the one time, when I was 13 or 14, when I experienced a “runner’s high.” Shortly after, I found a group called “Black Girls Run.” They helped me put one foot in front of the other and enjoy being out in nature with other women who love life.
What Do You Love About Your Running Routine?
There are a lot of things—from getting up early and doing something challenging while the rest of the world is sleeping to the music that I listen to. I love that moment after my body has warmed up and everything feels lighter and I feel strong. I also love how running changes my relationship with my surroundings. Over the course of my recent training, I’ve been lucky enough to run in Pennsylvania, New York City, and New Orleans. I feel very lucky to have been able to experience these very different parts of the country while I train.
Why Did You Start Competing?
I don’t compete. I couldn’t care less about the order in which I cross the finish line. It’s about picking a goal and working hard to reach it.
What Is The Biggest Lesson You’ve Learned About Yourself Through Running?
I’m more disciplined than I thought.
How Do You Push Through The Mental And Physical Barriers Of Long Runs?
I’m learning how to break down distances by focusing on different aspects of my run or matching my pace to the music I’m listening to. Luckily, overall there have been few barriers. That said, I collided with a bike recently. It’s thrown off my training schedule by two weeks. We’ll see how I do getting back on track.
What Has Most Improved Your Running?
I would say my coach has really helped me. Working with a coach is different from when I played high school and college sports. It’s all through an app and short conversations instead of live interaction where they’re on the field walking you through it. It took time to get used to the new structure, but the workouts really have made a difference.
Have You Ever Failed To Fuel Properly? What Did You Change As A Result?
Yes! As I increased my distances I kept the same eating habits. One morning I woke up experiencing the same feelings as my deepest point of depression. It scared me, but I realized that perhaps I wasn’t eating right. My body was depleted. My coach showed me how to keep track of calories. It quickly became clear that I wasn’t taking in enough calories. Now I make sure I’ve eaten enough and that I’m hydrated before, during and after my workouts.
What Advice Would You Give A Younger You?
I would talk to my 9-year-old self and teach her how to forge her own path. To be relentless in pursuing the things that interest her. I would explain to her that no one around her will understand the wild and wonderful vision she has for herself and that she’d have to pursue her interests without the encouragement and approval of others. In the end, it will be worth it because she’ll be closer to her true self. Everyone else will catch up.
Quick Fire Questions
Next event? New York City Marathon
Favorite post-race meal? I don’t have one, but I’m open to suggestions.
What's in your running belt? Water with a Nuun tablet
Morning or evening run? Morning!
Best race sign you’ve seen? “You might be running a half marathon, but I did get up early to make this sign.”
Favorite distance? So far, 13.1 / The Brooklyn Half!
Favorite way to indulge in your wellbeing? Believe it or not, sitting on my couch, wrapped in a blanket, binge watching TV. I’m so active that the few times I actually do this it feels like a mental break.
Levelle was born from intimate conversations with tough-as-nails female endurance athletes. We heard fascinating story after fascinating story while we were dreaming up the business and have reconnected with some of the athletes to share those stories here, with you.