The British movie Fast Girls, directed by first-time director Regan Hall, tells the story of a British female 4 x 100 metres relay team as they train for the World Championships, complete with bitter rivalries. It will be released on DVD on October 8, 2012.
When watching the film, it’s hard not to be drawn to the lean, toned physique of Lenora, 27, who plays gritty underdog Shania Andrews. Coached by Olympic sprinters Jeanette Kwakye and Shani Anderson for six weeks before filming, Lenora and her co-stars had to train to near-Olympic levels of fitness to fulfil their roles as Team GB’s 100m relay hopefuls. Best known for her part playing Annie in the supernatural drama Being Human, London-born Lenora spills the beans on the Fast Girls and how it’s affected her life.
H&F: You had a physically tough role playing Shania in Fast Girls. What lengths did you go to in order to prepare for it?
Lenora: ‘I just tried to do my best. I’m not an athlete, so to train for the role, I had to start from scratch. I did an awful lot of interval training, both running and on the bike, which was all about pushing my boundaries, as well as over 500 sit-ups each day. I also did regular running drills and weights sessions to improve my strength and posture. I must admit some days it was very hard to get out of bed and start training, so I did surprise myself with how hard I worked.
H&F: How has the role affected your workout regime now? Have you kept your fitness levels up?
Lenora: ‘I think that with my busy schedule it would be nearly impossible to keep my fitness up. The training I did while filming was my lifestyle at the time. However, I learnt a lot about my body throughout the process, both my strengths and the limits to which I can push myself.’
H&F: Do you enjoy exercising?
Lenora: ‘Yes! I’ve always been fairly sporty and my body has always responded well to it. If I don’t exercise for a few days, I tend to feel sluggish and rundown.’
H&F: What’s your favourite way to keep fit?
Lenora: ‘I do a lot of yoga, walking, cycling and jogging. I don’t usually do anywhere near as much running as I did for the movie, so that was a whole new experience.’
H&F: You suffered nasty stress fractures in both your ankles at the start of filming. How did you get past this, both physically and mentally?
Lenora: ‘Physically it was very hard, as all I could do was wait for my injuries to heal. I had a great physio, so that helped when it came to filming and training in a way that didn’t make my injuries worse. Mentally, it was humbling, as I could imagine how an injured athlete would feel in the same position. I felt completely let down by my body – it was frustrating. Luckily I had a great deal of support, both from the film crew who never gave up and helped me to work around my injury, and from my family who are always there for me.’
H&F: Did you have to make any huge changes to your diet for the film?
Lenora: ‘I already ate a good, balanced diet, so I didn’t have to change it too much. I often get asked for a ‘magic solution’, but there isn’t such a thing. I tended to eat little and often, sticking to lean protein, complex carbs for slow release energy and plenty of fresh greens.’
H&F: What are your kitchen staples?
Lenora: ‘Lemon, salmon fillets, tuna and balsamic vinegar.’
H&F: What food could you not live without?
Lenora: ‘Lemon! I use it to season everything – it’s great on fish.’
H&F: What effect do you think the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics have had on sport in Britain? Do you think it has inspired more women to take up sport?
Lenora: ‘I think it’s had a great effect. It’s brought athletics and sport in general to the forefront of people’s mind. There was a fantastic buzz surrounding London. It brought the games home – literally – meaning that the public saw a different side of sport, which is great.’
H&F: Did the games inspire you personally?
Lenora: ‘It inspired me massively, particularly after Fast Girls. I’ve always appreciated athletics and the talent and determination that it takes to achieve in it. Although I didn’t get the opportunity to go to the Games themselves, I watched it all on TV when I could. When Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah were competing, I was on my feet screaming!’
H&F: What is your number one fitness tip?
Lenora: ‘Nourishment, not punishment! Find something you enjoy doing and you’re more likely to stick at it and do well. Make exercising more fun by creating a playlist or working out with a buddy.’
H&F has teamed up with StudioCanal UK to give you the chance to win 1 of 5 Fast Girls DVDs. Simply answer the question below:
Which of these events is the film Fast Girls based on?
a) The World Championships
b) The Virgin London Marathon
c) The London 2012 Olympic Games
Email your answer, followed by your name and postal address, to [email protected] for you chance to win.
Words: Jennifer Davis