Member Spotlight May 2024 – Carys Samuel

by | May 15, 2024 | Member Spotlights

Welcome to May’s edition of Member Monthly Spotlight, Carys Samual who describes herself as a road runner, but loves the mud and “clart” of the cross country events….. Over to you Carys.

1.  How did you get into running and why?

When I started university I wanted to find a way to get fit and so my mum and I entered the Race for Life as an event to train for. I remember wondering how on earth I’d be able to keep running for the full 5km and the achievement once it was done felt amazing!

2.   What kept you going when you first started running?

I think it was mostly having an event to train for that gave me the motivation to keep going. I don’t think I would have bothered otherwise and to be honest that’s still the case with my running nowadays, I always need an event to aim for in my training.

3.   How much training do you typically do each week?

I run 3-4 times a week. I try to make sure one of those sessions is a speed or hill session which is where coming to running club really helps as I’ve found it hard to complete those types of sessions by myself.

4.   Be honest, do you enjoy training?

I always enjoy it once it’s over so I’m not sure that counts! Some days when I really feel like I want to go for a run it is enjoyable, particularly if I have the energy and some good music on my headphones. Other days it’s a real slog and I just have to tell myself it’s about getting it done, rather than being fast.

5. Do you do any other sports or fitness activities?

I really enjoy strength training and do two classes a week at my gym, Paradigm Fitness. These are a mix of circuits, weights and boxing. It’s the friendliest gym I’ve ever attended and I can definitely feel the impact of the training on my running.

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6.   Do you manage to fit in any other hobbies?

I used to horse ride and I do miss the time spent with horses so I volunteer every few weeks with a local Riding for the Disabled charity where I lead horses in lessons. It’s a brilliant charity, entirely run by volunteers and the work they do is really inspiring.

7. Tell us about some of the races that you’ve done in the past

I don’t really feel like I’ve ever achieved anything impressive in races but probably one of my favourites was the BTR 10 miler in Liverpool. 10 miles is always my favourite event distance and when I did this particular run, everything just came together to make for a great one! I got a PB (not sure I’ll ever beat it) and actually enjoyed myself whilst it was happening – a true miracle.

I’ve lived in Darlington nearly three years and taking part in the Darlington 10k last year was a great experience. I loved running around the town I know so well and the atmosphere was brilliant, plus seeing lots of people I knew along the way.

8. What’s your current running goal?

I am chasing a 10k PB! I know I am capable of doing it and I so nearly got there at the Croft 10k a couple of weeks ago but lost my pace on two of the six miles which was frustrating. I’ve spent the last three years working hard to get back to the level of fitness I had pre-pandemic so as much as anything it feels really good to see progress and I hope this year it will be reflected in my 10ks and some good Parkrun times too.

9. What are your longer term running goals?

I’m not sure I really have any longer term running goals. I suppose I want to keep motivated and keep improving. I’ve loved taking part in events as part of the Quakers team and I’m also in another team through my work so I want to keep doing events and keep pushing myself..

10. What is your favourite race/distance/terrain?

I’m definitely a road runner because I hate hills but I have enjoyed some cross country events and there’s something quite liberating about all of the mud! 10 miles is probably my favourite distance as it requires training but not quite so much as a half marathon and mentally I can cope with the thought of an hour and a half of running. As you can tell, I’m not a distance runner!

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11. What are your proudest running achievements?

It’s perhaps a bit sad to admit but I am so proud of my Parkrun PB from four years ago which was under 23 minutes. I don’t know if I could ever get back to that but I’d be so happy if I could! I think I feel proud to just keep going and particularly when it’s really hard. I had such a dip in fitness a couple of years ago and I hated running for a good few months so I’m proud that I didn’t stop and managed to train for a 10 miler in there too. I’m really glad to be through that and improving again.

12. Anything in your running experience you regret?

I probably wish I’d found a running club earlier than I did. I’m not especially keen on going to places with big groups of new people so that probably put me off for a long time. I’ve found Quakers so friendly and welcoming, much more so than other clubs I’ve been to in the past, and I’m really grateful to everyone for creating such an inclusive and lovely culture where I don’t feel scared to turn up!

13. How many pairs of trainers/ running shoes do you have and do you have a favourite pair?

I think this is where I often realise I’m not a ‘proper runner’ because I only have three pairs… I struggled a lot with calf pain before I went to a physio (shout out to Lianne Wood at Wave physio) and she recommended a) trying a support shoe because I’d always been told I needed neutral ones and b) trying Altras because of the zero drop. It’s been the best advice I’ve ever had because my Altra’s have pretty much stopped my calf issues and also stopped all the blisters I used to get.

14. What’s your idea of running heaven?

A race day where you’ve done all your prep correctly, where you wake up feeling fresh and ready and where everything just comes together. You know those ones where you’re running along feeling fast and looking around thinking ‘Yes this is how it’s supposed to be’.

15. What’s your idea of running hell?

The opposite to above! The days where it all feels wrong. You’re too warm or too cold, you’ve put the wrong socks on, you can’t get your breath properly, your hair is annoying you, there’s a head wind and you’re thinking ‘how on earth am I going to do this?!’.

16. What is the best piece of running advice you’ve ever been given?

I was talking about trying to get a 10k PB and a much faster runner than me said you need to ‘commit to the pace’. I was worried about not being able to keep up if I started at my target pace but his advice was that it’s better to potentially burn out a bit than get halfway round and be too far behind your target to make up the time. I don’t know if that’s sound advice but it definitely helped me if for no other reason than I chanted ‘commit to the pace’ the whole way round!

17. Any advice to newcomers to running?

Join a club and keep going. I don’t think there’s anyone however fit or fast that doesn’t sometimes find running hard, it’s all about not stopping when it’s a slog. You never regret a run and whatever pace you’ve done, it’s always an achievement.

18.  What keeps you going when the going gets tough in a hard race?

I have so many arguments in my head in every single race! I try to tell myself constantly ‘You will do this’, I also repeat how far is left until the next time my watch buzzes. I heard someone say to focus on what’s left rather than what you’ve done and again, I have no idea if that’s good advice but it helps me. I also try to break everything down into how many Parkruns it is!

19. How do you relax/reward yourself after a race?

Food, it’s all about the food! My go to would probably be pizza and a nice cold beer but I’m pretty much happy with anything after a race. I refuelled after the GNR with two lemon iced buns and that was a pretty good reward!

20. If you could run anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I’d really like to do a race somewhere in Europe but I’m not too fussed about the destination as long as it’s flat! I’m hoping to do a run in Paris this year, it’s 15k so not too far and I’m looking forward to being able to do a bit of sightseeing whilst running!

Once again, another cracking read from one of our members, if anyone would like to take part, just drop me a message at the email address below.