August 2010: Sarah Watson

by | Mar 26, 2014 | Member Spotlights

How did you get into running and why?

My dad has a rare long term illness and out of the blue one day for some crazy reason my mum suggested we should do the Great North Run to raise money for a charity that had helped us and as most people will know I am never one to turn down a challenge, so I agreed and we entered never thinking we would get in, but sure enough we did and we started training at the beginning of 2006 starting from scratch with the one minute run, one minute walk programme and completed the Great North the October of that year, raising over £1,000 between us in the process, I was so proud of us both as I never dreamed in a million years we would do it, I had the running bug from then on and I joined the Quakers that summer and four years later I am still running and loving it.

What kept you going when you first started running?
Not to sound too sentimental but thinking about my family kept me going and to be honest still does, running the Great North Run and my first Edinburgh Marathon for a charity that really meant something to me was the best incentive ever and knowing it was doing it for my dad helped me every mile of the way. I don’t come from a running background and I am certainly not a natural runner, so the achievement I feel after a race lasts far longer than the pain during it. Joining the Quakers was the best thing and really pushed me to continue and take up new challenges. 

Tell us about some of the races that you’ve done in the past?
I started off the sensible way, with the Race for Life, Darlington 10k and The Great North, but as soon as i crossed the finish line after the half marathon I knew that wasn’t enough and I entered the Edinburgh Marathon the following year and loved it, I’ve done that twice now, training was very tough and certainly an eye opener but well worth the effort. After meeting Nick I suppose that’s when my running changed as off road running was very much his thing so he encouraged me to give it a go, so I did and I love it, I have probably tried most styles of races from road to trail, cross country and fell. I gave myself the challenge of an off road marathon this year with Swaledale and apart from the cramp I really enjoyed it. This year has been great in the fact that it’s the first year I haven’t been injured (touch wood) so I have really got back into it with various off road runs like Grizedale, Tees Forest Trail Races and James Herriot to name but a few. The Cleveland Wayand Thunder Run were also great as it’s a team effort which helps when it gets tough.

How much training do you typically do?
I would like to say I train 3-4 times a week but it’s not always possible, I do try to make it to the club on a Tuesday and Thursday, I also have a women only group which I have set up in Barnard Castle and we train on a Monday night, if I have a particular race coming up then I like to get weekend runs in, I prefer training in the winter, as I find the heat a real struggle, so I know my training will increase over the autumn and winter.

Be honest, do you enjoy training?
Not all of it but does anyone, I much prefer the shorter speed sessions on the field or fartlek and surprisingly enough one of my favourite sessions is hill reps at Hartford Road, but I know you need to clock up the miles if you are doing a half, a marathon or longer so you just have to dig in and do it. Training at the club helps and I always feel glad I have done it even if the session was hard at the time, plus everyone is always so encouraging even on training nights (usually when they are flying past me) and that really helps.

What’s your current running aim?
Initially it’s the half marathon in Belgium on the infamous Club Trip, I haven’t put in as much training as would have hoped but I will get round, then it will be the cross country, they are challenging but I just treat them like a training run and as the women always go first it’s about the only race I actually get to finish before Nick!, as for next year, I am contemplating doing Swaledale again as I really enjoyed it or maybe the 30 miler at Durham Dales, I would also like to get my 10k time down before next year’s Thunder Run, I will definitely be continuing with more off road stuff so will just see what comes along, the Lyke Wake Walk is also in the pipeline.

What is your favourite race/distance/terrain?
I’m not sure as I tend to do a bit of all sorts. I enjoy anything off road with a bit of mud, and I also enjoy the team events we have now such as the Cleveland Relay and the Thunder Run which was by far one of my favourites this year, I also seem to have got into the longer distance running, but when its off road its so much more enjoyable. I just run because I have a genuine love of it, I have never dropped out of a race yet no matter how hard it has been. 

What’s your idea of running heaven?
Anything I need to wear off road shoes for on a cool autumn day. I like runs and races which are a challenge and I know I have to really test myself with.

What’s your idea of running hell?
Edinburgh Marathon back in 2009, the heat was just awful, it was a nightmare from start to finish, its the first race that I have ever contemplated dropping out of, I remember ringing Nick at about 12 miles a total wreck, but I finished largely due to Alex’s dragging me along. In general I’m not a fan of anything involving tarmac especially on a hot day.

Any advice to newcomers?
Keep at it and don’t give up, sometimes running is just hard but it’s worth it. It’s also great to find a good running buddy, I was fortunate to find Clare when I first joined, and now Alex and we are good for each other and it really helps to keep each other going especially on longer runs. Coming to the club regularly will really help with your training too, Just remember why you are running and enjoy it, it’s best not to put too much pressure on yourself at first and set small goals, then when you achieve them you know you are improving.


What do you think is the best route into racing for newcomers?
If you are female without doubt the Race for Life, it’s a fantastic atmosphere with absolutely no pressure to finish in a certain time, there are so many local races around in a wide range of distances, ask around at the club and you will get some good ideas, if you are new don’t push yourself too much, races are a great incentive to see what you have achieved with all your hard work.

Best way to relax/reward yourself after a race?
I’m boring and I’m not really into going to the pub after a race so I like to just go home and have a nice soak in the bath with a roast dinner followed by a massive piece of cake Mmmm!

What is the best part of the club in your opinion?
Definitely meeting the people I have, I have been lucky enough to meet some really good friends at the club who’s advice and encouragement is invaluable, a lot of people think running is just on roads, but it’s so much more than that and the people I have met have introduced me to a whole new idea of running. I also have the club to thank for getting me into coaching which I absolutely love.

Apple, Water, Banana or Mars bar in your ideal goodie bag?
Probably the Mars Bar or can I swap it for a bit of Diane’s flap jack!