Sam Heward

Sam Heward

Runner and trainee chartered accountant

Keen runner about to take on the Marathon des Sables. 

What got you into running? And what keeps you doing it?
Originally I started running because I liked the challenge it offered. I did my first marathon (London, 2 years ago), and despite all but writing it off on completion, I found myself signing up to the Marathon des Sables, supposedly one of the toughest footraces in the world last January. The fear of collapsing mid-desert is a pretty strong motivator at the moment to keep me going…

I was always pretty into team sport at school and cross country used to be pretty low on the agenda, but ever since moving on and life getting increasingly busy, as well as a couple of shoulder operations which have written off a couple of sports, running has provided something to keep me active which ticks all the boxes, and offers a nice bit of "me time" to zone out from the rest of the world for a bit.

As I have got more and more into training for events I've found myself become strangely hooked to the extent that the long weekend run is something I genuinely look forward to each week (something no one seems to understand), and keeping track of each run keeps me motivated (im intensely competitive so beating my own previous time and benchmarking my performance with others in the community is something I find a good motivator).

What is your typical weekly training routine?
At the moment it consists of 4 to 5 workouts a week, with 2/3 runs (one long weekend run usually being 20ish miles), and the rest cross training (an attempt to preserve the joints as best as possible and keep the core and upper body strong, usually consisting of spinning, rowing or swimming). I am currently preparing for the Bristol Marathon in October, but after that I will be looking to up the mileage and get a couple of long runs in each week in preparation for the Pilgrims Challenge (a 66mile multi-day race in the North Downs) in February and the MDS next April.

Do you run with a club or a group?
Usually alone, unless my housemate fancies it…

Where’s the strangest place you’ve run?
Nowhere particularly exciting yet.. however, I recently mistimed a run and ended up in the middle of Brixton Splash (similar to Nottinghill carnival). Come April, I should be able to add Sahara desert to that. 

What song, if any, is guaranteed to make you run faster?
Sail Awolnation. Recently I've been using podcasts for the longer runs - Serial is a good one.

Is it just for the fun of it? Or for the results?
Both, originally it was because of the challenge of entering and completing events. As I said earlier I am immensely competitive, and clocking quicker times, and increasing mileage is something I find intensely rewarding, but recently I have found myself really enjoying my runs as they offer some nice 'zoning out' time.

What is the best bit of advice you’ve had from another runner?
It's what you do when nobody is watching that counts the most.

What simple advice would you give to a new or novice runner?
Listen to your body. STRETCH post run, and be careful not to over train. I did the London Marathon a couple of years back with a "wing it" kind of attitude, and having a pretty nonchalant attitude to training resulted in an iliotibial band strain meaning I couldn’t run in the last 3 weeks before the race; acupuncture and painkillers were the only things that got me through.

Ever since then I've been pretty strict in terms of proper warm-up, down and stretching and the difference I have felt has been ridiculous, and touch wood there haven’t been any injury problems since.

What is your favourite piece of SOAR kit?
Big fan of the race shorts. 


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