Running and Life – Oli Cameron-Swan

running and life

Age: 48

How did you first get into running?

I wasn’t much into sports at school – certainly not team sports. I did a bit of cycling and used to run with my brother – mostly to get fit. We would try and run for 20 minutes without stopping. I was getting better but very slowly.

I’d done one Parkrun in Basingstoke years ago when we were there with family. I thought it was really boring – I just didn’t get it.

Then Bryan (Markham) and Sam (Juson) persuaded me to give Ludlow parkrun a go. That was August last year (2021). I absolutely loved it. I think it was the mix of running in the woods, up and down hills, and all the support. You end up chatting with lots of people at the end and it’s really friendly. I joined Croft the following month.

I’ve learnt a lot about running since going to the Croft training sessions. I might be a bit unusual in that trying to get faster isn’t my main interest. I want to make running as enjoyable and easy as possible. At parkrun I always turn up hoping for a nice easy run, although I often get carried away and find a competitive streak cutting in!

I love that the Croft sessions are just one big group for all abilities. It means that you can decide how hard you want to work. Sometimes I’ll feel like trying to stay with some of the faster runners, other times I’m happy to go more slowly and be at the back. The group is the group – how hard you work is up to you on the day.

I also like that we run in some great countryside. It can feel a bit wild and remote at times, especially when we are in the woods running in the dark with head torches. I love it though – even when it’s tipping down with rain I want to get to the club and run.

Running is a part of my life now. If I don’t go to Parkrun on a Saturday or the weekday training sessions I really miss it.

What’s a typical running week for you?

I’ll usually go to the 2 club training sessions on Tuesday and Thursday evening, then it’s Parkrun on Saturday. I don’t do any really long training runs at the moment. Even in the run up to Cardiff half I only ran up to 6 or 7 miles.

What’s in the diary?

I’ve put all the winter Cross Country races in my diary. I haven’t decided on Ron Skilton Half Marathon next weekend yet. I’ll often make a decision at the last minute.

I don’t really enter races to get a better time. I want to continue to get fitter and make running easier and more enjoyable.

What is your Most Memorable Run?

I found the 15-mile Offa’s Dyke run really hard. It was quite painful towards the end, but I enjoyed it overall. There’s a sense of achievement and I like the challenge of working out how to tackle it.

I also loved the 10k Magic Roundabout run at Hay and the hill run at The Purslow Show. It tipped it down that day but it was a lot of fun.

I did the Cardiff Half Marathon recently. I managed to finish in 2hrs and 8 minutes. Although I say I’m not bothered about time, I guess I would like to do a half marathon in under 2 hours and a parkrun in under 25 minutes!

There’s no way I would have had the confidence to do a half marathon without the support of the club.

Any injuries you’ve struggled with?

There’s been some niggles but nothing that’s prevented me from running – even falling down the hill at parkrun didn’t stop me! Stretching at the end of training has been really good for me – and learning to move differently has really helped. When I was running on my own I used to hunch over – now I’m much more upright. Until someone points it out to you don’t realise that you’re probably making running harder than it needs to be.

What do you most love about running?

I like the sense of achievement. The running community is really important and I love the club. I also love that it’s so simple. You don’t need loads of kit – just a pair of running shoes really.

What do you do for a living?

I’m a photographer by trade, and I teach art & design at Hereford College of Arts and at The Cart Shed at Weobley.

Who do you live with?

With my wife Ruth and my boys Joe (16) and John (14). John and Joe have done parkrun with me once each – I hope to encourage them to do a bit more.

Have you any pets?

A Cockerpoo called Dizzy, my occasional running partner.

Can you recommend a good book?

Breath by James Nestor. Not surprisingly it’s about breathing and looks at loads of research and long held beliefs. It’s certainly changed the way I breath. I sleep better and can run much more easily now. It touches on sports but it’s for everyone – not just athletes.

Comment on this article

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.