On the Spot – Paul Sansom

When did running begin for you?
In my thirties I was working in London, getting very little exercise and putting on weight so I learnt to swim to keep myself fit. I stuck at this for a while but when my local pool got closed down for refurbishment a colleague invited me out for a lunchtime run instead. It was a nice change to see the countryside rather than blue and white tiles so, ignoring the sore legs, I decided to keep going. After a few months and setbacks with injury he persuaded me to do the Reading Half Marathon which was scary to say the least but I was hooked and everything led from there. My colleague retired not long after that but we still run the Great South together every year.

Why do you run?
All sorts of reasons, mostly for fitness and health (I do like a biscuit) but also to challenge myself. We get so absorbed in work and family that sometimes we’re doing everything for other people and I find the focus on yourself during a run helps clear the mind and give you a personal sense of achievement. Then there’s the social side which is really important. I’m from Nottinghamshire and whilst I’ve lived in Surrey for many years I haven’t got many close friends locally, being able to spend time with such a friendly bunch of people in the Harriers is great. A couple of years ago I got injured and didn’t run for a couple of months, I found myself quite depressed and lacking motivation, getting back into running restored my mojo surprisingly quickly. I’m much more aware of this now so try to stay engaged even if I am injured.

What race or moment in your running career holds the most significance and why?
That’s a difficult one as there are so many significant runs to me. I think that’s one of the great things about running, the challenges are so varied that each one has a significance of its own. A park run PB, first half marathon, first marathon, cross country, Green Belt Relay – all of them mean a lot at the time. But I’ll go back to my first Reading Half, 13 miles is a real challenge and though so many people do ultras these days (and are awesome) for many runners that first half marathon is a mountain and a real achievement. Realising your body can run for 2 hours is amazing.

Who is your running inspiration?
On a day to day basis many people from the club inspire me to run, for fun and for PBs. Also to try different training techniques, think about running in different ways and just get out there whatever the weather. The athlete that inspires me is Jo Pavey, winning European gold just before turning 41 shows us older runners that anything is possible, she’s so down to earth and clearly loves her running.

What event, past or present, would you like to take part in and why?
All of you will have watched Usain Bolt over the last decade and seen what an amazing athlete he is but for me its Carl Lewis and the 100m at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. His confidence, athleticism and were great to watch and doing the long jump as well showed what an alrounder he was. The Olympics finally put him on the world stage properly and the 100m was the first gold and a great race.

What golden piece of advice would you give to other runners?
Run slowly. Make sure you do easy runs in your schedule, not all out pace all of the time. My Monday run is my recovery run but also my chill out run. Often along the river, I try to stop for people coming the other way, say hello to everyone, look at the wildlife, stop and rest at St Catherine’s lock, watch the swifts drinking from the canal and hope to see the local barn owl or kingfisher. I might listen to music but its my run just for the enjoyment of running and being out there. Its also a good time to listen to your body and see how you feel, trying to run relaxed and lose the tension of Monday at work.

What’s next?
The Pilgrim Marathon, the Great South Run and the Hogs Back Road Race. Lots of hills training and regular squats seem to be helping with strength and lower back issues so hoping to get through the rest of the year injury free and perhaps pick up some speed in the new year.

Who would you like to nominate ?

Posted in Runners Blogs.