Recently, Running Woman had the pleasure of hearing Sam's story, here's what she had to say, RW x
For my birthday in April, I asked for a pair of trainers as a gift.
The reaction, unsurprisingly, was sceptical.
After all, sports gear hadn’t appeared on any previous wish lists!
And yet now, six months on, I’m twitchy if I don’t run.
To even admit as much feels a bit surreal; before, I was a couch potato that didn’t move.
But running has saved me, both physically and mentally.
That might sound dramatic written down, or when other people read it, but it’s true.
I run alone; it’s just better that way because my brain only has to focus on keeping my legs moving.
I try to empty my mind while they do.
It’s like holding your breath for a long time while underwater – the only way to recover is to breathe, releasing the pent-up stress when you come up for air.
I’m quite an addictive person, and that helped at the beginning when – two days after blowing out the candles on my cake – I pressed play on the NHS Couch to 5K podcast.
That first attempt was really hard, and I convinced myself that the next time would be better.
Before I knew it, I was running!
It kind of crept up. I’ve no idea how fast I was going, and it didn’t matter.
I knew my body felt better, and in my mind that encouraged me to keep going.
That’s the polar opposite of the sensations I had known previously, and I like it.
If you’re a Running Woman, then that will make sense.
Receiving the encouragement of other ladies is like having the world’s biggest group of personal cheerleaders.
They keep me pumped up, and that’s its biggest strength.
We all need a space in which to share what we’re up to, no matter what stage of our journey we’re on.
If you need a lift, they’ll supply it. Want to celebrate? They’ll join a party with you.I can’t tell you how much that means, particularly for somebody like me who has suffered with anxiety and, more recently, depression after my dad passed away, Christmas 2017.
In July, to mark his birthday, I raised more than £1,600 after running a total of 50km.
His final trip was from Peterborough City Hospital to Royal Papworth Hospital – a transfer just short of 31 miles.
When I found that out, it seemed meant to be and my challenge, which I called ‘Dad’s last journey’, was to cover the equivalent distance.
The money, which I donated to the Royal Papworth Charity, will help them to continue the ground-breaking work they do every day to save people’s loved ones.
My Running Woman medal for that feat means so much to me.
And I didn’t stop there.
I write this after reaching the finish in my first race, the Running GP at Bedford Autodrome, in October.
My time, 1:18:15, knocked more than 10 minutes of my personal best over 10km!
But that’s not why I felt so emotional at the end.
My nan, dad’s mum, had died a couple of days earlier.
The wave just hit me at the finish line, and caught me off-guard.
There was probably a bit of everything in my mind, not least a sense of relief to have made it.
With 200m left, and noticing I’d split from the pack in front, people started cheering me on.
I didn’t realise it, but among them were three women, none of whom I know, from the Running Woman community.
When I posted a picture in the group afterwards, they recognised my leggings!
I don’t know if I’ll race again – although never say never – but nobody can take away from me that I’ve done it once.
And that’s why I feel sometimes as though I’ve winged it.
I don’t tend to look back too much, and I can’t quite believe what I’ve done.
It doesn’t seem real.
But then I look at my Running Woman medals, each of them a memento reaching a different milestone, and know that I have.
As somebody that never used to get anything for sport at school, they’re precious.
What next? Well, there’s no tread left on those trainers.
I’ll need to fix that.
Notes from Running Woman
Visit our amazing Running Woman community to be part of the worlds biggest group of personal cheerleaders that Sam refers to.
Find out more about Running Woman's virtual runs & challenges if you too want a memento for your achievements.