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Meet the runner - Sam Parkinson

Sam and I trained regularly together before lockdown. I'm really missing putting the world to rights on a Sunday morning. This interview really made me laugh - I had no idea about Sam's rugby career or her attempts at the long jump!!



I work in Southampton in the Family Nurse Partnership team. I’ve always worked for the NHS as a nurse or midwife. I sometimes feel I should have changed but I cannot find anything else which ticks all the boxes.

I have been running with Winchester and District since around 2011. I moved training groups last year as I had not had any real focus for a long time and felt I wasn’t putting in any effort. I would turn up for training, look for the injured person and trot around the field with them chatting. Training had become more of a social event for me. Since moving groups, I have managed to get some focus back, I have started to work much harder and am definitely feeling the benefit of this.

My dad and grandad were both runners, they ran for Middleton Harriers and Salford. My dad desperately wanted one of his five children to be a runner but unfortunately, we all had better things to do. I enjoyed sport when I was younger but running to me was something you did just to keep fit for playing other sports. I never actually saw running as a team sport.

When I left home to study in Winchester, I felt I needed to do some exercise to counteract all the partying. I was in the County Arms pub one evening and saw a group of young men dressed in what I thought look like running gear so asked if there was a local running club. The next thing I knew I was a member of Winchester Rugby Club and spent the next three years as Winchester Women’s Winger! A number of years later I was working in a Winchester GP practice and the GP’s convinced me to run the Great South Run (GSR) with them for charity. I agreed thinking this would just be a one off run and I only agreed as I felt I should do it for the team. I didn’t quite realise just how much this would impact on my life.

I remember getting to the 10km point of the GSR and thinking “why did no one tell me about this running thing before now?”. It was the best feeling ever and I loved every step that day. Completing 10 miles was something I had never dreamed of ever achieving. My children were running with Winchester and District AC at the time. I was watching them run a cross-country race on a cold, wet Sunday morning and I suddenly thought that instead of standing and freezing I could actually run myself. I then decided to join WADAC and have never looked back.

Before Lockdown I ran the cross-country National Championships at Wollaton Park. This was one of the toughest, most challenging races I have ever done. It was worth doing, just for footage which followed which was the most amusing ever, especially the men’s race!

I did also manage to get a Parkrun in just before Lockdown. This was at Princes Park Liverpool. It was quite emotional as we all knew it would probably be the last for a long time. It was great to be surrounded by Liverpudlians as they are the funniest, loveliest people and I laughed so much that day.

Training has started to become more of a challenge as it has for all of us. I had been training every Tuesday and Thursday with David Vosser’s group and doing a longer run at weekends. Before lockdown I had also been doing BodyPump twice a week and regular yoga.

My favourite session is most definitely hills, preferably in the rain.

I have recently been redeployed at work and now working on the wards doing shift work which is getting in the way of my running routine! I am trying to run at different times of the day but I’m not as motivated as I’m missing my running buddies and my routine.

I’m not quite sure what year it was, but my best performance was the Tadley runners 10-mile race. I had been trying so hard to get a sub 70 min 10 mile and I eventually managed it at Tadley. It was such a great feeling finally moving to the 60’s.

My worst performance was definitely in the long jump!! I was asked just to do it and get a point. My children were watching and said, ‘Don’t ever embarrass us like that again!’. I learnt to leave the long jump to the proper athletes. My worst running performance has to be attempting to run a 10k XC race up and down Butser Hill twice in torrential rain wearing a pair of road shoes. I learnt how humiliating it is to crawl on your hands and knees just to get up the hill. The downhill I’ve blanked from my memory.

My favourite bit of kit is definitely my cross-country spikes. I am very attached to them and unfortunately they are so worn they have holes. I keep looking at them knowing I need to throw them out but can’t bring myself to do it.

I’m in the middle of reading Running For My Life by Rachel Cullen and loving it.

I’ve lost my running mojo a little at the moment. I spend about 2 hours complaining that I need to go for a run before I actually step foot out of the door. I’m really missing running with other people. The virtual WADAC races have kept me going over recent weeks as it gives me some focus and I enjoy all the banter.

I take vitamin D daily. I try to eat a balanced diet, not forgetting the beetroot juice.

Running for me is a release, putting on my running shoes after a long day helps get rid of all the stress and worries of the day. I love meeting up with my running buddies and running across the fields chatting and laughing without a care in the world.

When I’m not running or working, I do enjoy watching the rugby.

Since lockdown I have been doing more stretching and yoga type exercises. I am slightly worried that I’ve not been doing any weights as I think this has helped prevent injury in the past.

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