Running and Life – Sam Harper

running and life

Age: 48

How did you first get into running?

I’d always worried about my weight. I’ve got 5 boys and I had problems with high blood pressure with each pregnancy and was pre-diabetic with the last pregnancy. It was always put down to my weight. After the twins, Max and Owen, were born I realised that I really needed to change things or I was going to have health problems. That was in 2008.

We bought a Nintendo Wii Fit.  It measured your weight and told you how many calories you had used. It plotted your progress on a graph and it was very motivating to see the line gradually heading down and the little avatar gradually getting slimmer as I lost weight. In my head I was never on a diet and was exercising the weight off. Over the space of 2 years I lost over 4 stone.

The wii-fit started to get easier for me so I tried differnt exercises. I went out running on my own a bit. We didn’t have any neighbours where we lived at that time so I didn’t have to worry about someone seeing me. Gradually I started to do more – running, cycling and swimming. I was enjoying the running most. It was easier for me to see how I was improving with running – going a bit further without stopping to walk or managing to run all the way up a hill. Being able to run up hills I had struggled to walk up was very motivating.  

In 2009 there was a 4 mile charity run at Shobdon Airfield, which I entered to give me a goal to achieve. I had thought it would be flat being at the airfield, but it was more up and down than I had expected. I did it and was really pleased with myself.

I started to look for another race for my next goal. I saw the Soap Box Derby, organised by Croft Ambrey Running Club at Richard’s Castle; I think it was about 5 miles. I remember asking if you had to be a member of a club to enter. They said no so I gave that a go.

I still wasn’t brave enough to join the running club. I’d found the Croft web site and kept looking at it but just wasn’t sure I was good enough. Then I saw another local race – the Shobdon Wood Race and I entered that. I ended up winning the Female V35 prize! The next day, Guy brought the trophy along and persuaded me to join the club. I haven’t looked back!

What are your thoughts about Croft Ambrey Running Club?

From my first training session I was made to feel really welcome at the club and have made some great friends. At that time there were less than ten female members and I was definitely the worst runner there. But I was committed and determined to improve. I have always tried to go to every Tuesday training session and run all the club league races, club championship races and handicap races. I was incredibly flattered when I was voted runner of the year (I can’t remember which year that was but it was a shock!), and a few years later was asked to be ladies’ captain. I have always been keen to help out where I can and have been on the committee for a long time and was asked to take on the role of chairman in 2019. With the covid pandemic it turned out to be a very strange time to be leading a running club and I had a rather unconventional couple of years with a few challenging moments. I have always been keen that committees should remain dynamic so stepped back as chair this year, but am still an active member of the committee. 

I completed Lirf training in 2019 and now try to lead a couple of Tuesday training sessions a month with the club and have recently paired up with Huw to run a ten week ‘Prepare for Parkrun’ group on a Saturday morning. Hopefully we’ll help a few more runners gain in confidence to take part in parkrun and join the club.

What’s a typical running week for you?

It is a rare Tuesday that I miss a club training session. I work on Thursday evenings, unfortunately, but not in the day so will always go out for a run either on my own or with someone else – usually for about 6 miles. Then I’ll try and do a 6 – 8 mile run on a Sunday. 

What’s in the diary?

– Winter Cross Country League 

– Nash & Boriston 10k – 27th November

– Hereford 10 Mile (Club Championship Race) – 19th February 2023

– Pembrokeshire Trail Half Marathon – 22 April 2023

What’s you most memorable run?

I love running in the wet and mud, with a good few hills to slow other runners down. There was a Winter Cross Country about 5 years ago that was super wet and muddy. Loads of people pulled out but I kept going and really enjoyed it.

For my most memorable run though I think I’ll choose The Two Rivers Race at Presteigne. It was an 8-mile race and started and finished in Nash Woods. There were 2 river crossings to wade through and some really muddy fields, paths and a particularly unpleasant farm yard. It was always one of my favourite races and I  have run it lots of times. In 2015 there wasn’t a particularly high number of runners and I thought I was the first lady off the start line but wasn’t sure. Then I went past a marshal and they shouted I was the first lady. That was really motivating. I kept going hoping that no ladies would pass and they didnt! It was the first and last race I’ve ever won. The prize was a bottle of whisky. I don’t drink so I’ve probably still got it somewhere!

Any injuries you’ve struggled with?

I’ve been very lucky. I haven’t had many injuries. I pulled a calf muscle and had to take 6 weeks off at one point. I do seem to fall over quite a bit and get scratched knees but nothing very bad.

What do you most love about running?

I love the way that it’s shown me so many more places. Steve and I enjoy walking and we’ll often go to somewhere that I’ve run and enjoy it a more leisurely pace. 

I’ll also often think back to when I wasn’t as fit and couldn’t run, it’s a big motivation to keep it up. It makes you feel good and I’ve made some great friends through running. The social side is great.

What do you do for a living?

I’m a Dentist at the NHS dental access centre in Leominster. I work mostly with children and adults with special needs. I really enjoy it. It’s very rewarding when you can help someone who’s in pain. I work Monday to Wednesday and then Thursday evening until 8.30pm.   

I wanted to be a dentist from the age of 10. I remember my sister was given a dental mirror after a visit to the dentist when she had a filling. I didn’t need a filling so didn’t get a mirror. I was really upset and cried on the way home. From that moment I decided that I was going to be a dentist!

Who do you live with?

With my husband Steve and my 3 youngest boys – Isaac (17) and the twins, Max and Owen (15). My oldest Joe (23) has finished university and is working as a data scientist at a company in Abingdon. Alec (19) is at Birmingham University now. He’s studying environmental science.

I’m looking forward to having them all back for Christmas. 

Have you any pets?

A Working Cocker Spaniels, Douglas. He’s my running buddy. He’s 4 now. 

Can you recommend a good book or TV series?

I love thrillers. I just go to the library and get random books. I forget them once I’ve read them. There’s not even room in my head for the author’s names!

I would recommend the TV series Outlander on Amazon. It’s about a nurse who after the second World War who travels back in time to 1700’s Scotland and meets the love of her life. Its a bit of a romance with historic costume drama with the occassional bloody battle. Sounds bizarre but is great – there are 6 seasons so far and I can’t wait for the next.

Comment on this article

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