To enter the Simplyhealth Great South Run, visit:

A woman who started running to combat her depression will take on a 10 mile challenge this year to raise awareness about mental health issues and to make a step towards living a more active life.

Sharon Healy, from Drayton in Hampshire, has suffered with depression for most of her adult life.

In 2011, her mental health became so low that she had to give up her full -time job as a nursery assistant after falling ill.

Following a further health scare in 2015 when her blood pressure was extremely high and she was told she was medically obese, Sharon decided to start exercising by walking short distances.

This gradually improved and by the following year, she was able to take the first steps into running and found her mood also improved.

In 2016, she took part in her first ever 5k at the Simplyhealth Great South 5k and set herself a dream of entering the 10 mile event at the Simplyhealth Great South Run on Sunday 21 October.

Sharon, 40, joined a local running club and saw her confidence and self esteem improve by meeting other people and having the headspace and time to think while she is on a training run.

She will line up on the Simplyhealth Great South Run start line this October, where she will share the satisfaction of completing a10 mile challenge with 20,000 others.

Sharon, who now works as a school passenger assistant, said: "I have suffered with depression for many years but my lowest point was in 2011 when I had to give up my job as I had been off sick for so long.

"I took the hard decision to quit. My blood pressure was very high and I decided to start running to help me improve my mood.

"I walked-ran the 5k last year and I vowed to take on the 10 miles this year so I found a local running club, Baffins Fit Club, which really helped to improve my confidence.

"Running has helped me so much as my mood, confidence and self esteem is so much better thanks to exercise.

"I used to feel anxious in crowds but taking part in running events has really helped me deal with that too.

"I love the atmosphere when I take part in a run and the sense of achievement when I finish, it makes me feel very positive.

"Thanks to running I was able to build my confidence back up to where I was ready to look for work again and now I am back in employment.

"After watching the Simplyhealth Great South Run on TV last year I just knew I had to be a part of it and I hope that my training will help me to lose weight and become a more active person.

"I know I am never going to win any of the events I run in but my saying is finish line not finish time."

Runners taking on the Simplyhealth Great South Run can have the satisfaction of completing a 10 mile challenge while they take in the sights and celebrate everything that's great about Portsmouth.

Participants pass through the likes of Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and Spinnaker Tower before experiencing a finish line feeling like no other when they cross the line on the seafront.

Sharon says that running has completely changed her outlook on life and that she is able to bounce back quicker from the days that she struggles with by pulling on her trainers.

She added: "Running has given me so much, I think the biggest change for me is that I now have a more positive outlook on everything that I do. I still have the odd bad day but I am able to bounce back from this a lot quicker.

"The best piece of advice I could give to someone is to join a local running group because this is where I have made the most progress as I found the support really helped me and spurred me on.

"My goal for this year is to lose some weight and enjoy the Simplyhealth Great South Run by soaking up the amazing atmosphere."

To enter the Simplyhealth Great South Run, visit: