Q&A with Team GB athlete Samantha Harrison
Written By: Ben Mounsey
We are extremely delighted to welcome Team GB athlete Samantha Harrison as the latest addition to our Sportsshoes.com team.
Samantha has come a long way in such a short period of time. Having only taken up running seriously in 2018, she has since gone on to represent GB in the World Half Marathon Championships in Poland, 2020. At 25 years of age, Samantha is clearly a very talented and exciting young prospect and we’re extremely proud to support her as she aims to fulfil her ambition of competing in the Olympic Games.
We caught up with our new athlete to discuss her whirlwind journey so far and to find out what she has planned for the future.
Hi Samantha – Welcome to the team! You’ve had a pretty incredible start to your athletics career. Did you expect to achieve so much in such a short space of time?
Hello Ben! Thank you so much for having me on the team Surprisingly no! It all happened pretty quickly and quite a whirlwind to be honest.
How long have you been running and did you compete in any other sports before you took athletics more seriously?
I’ve been running since the end of 2018, and it all started from there really. I entered my first ever half-marathon race at the end of September 2018, with no running background apart from a few months of training for the half marathon and it all stemmed from there. And here I am today as an elite athlete. Quite surreal really. Running pretty much took my heart after the first ever race I competed in, the adrenaline rush it gave me, the fantastic atmosphere and the sense of achievement was something I craved for more and more.
I never really played any sport before running, but I used to go to the gym regularly and do spin classes, rowing machine, exercise bike and other cardio classes. I’ve always been a big fan of the outdoors and enjoyed keeping fit, I would go walking every weekend for miles. When I was a child from around 8 years old to 15, I played football at quite a competitive level, so I guess running around on the football pitch might have been where I got my running from! None of my family had ever been runners so I don’t think it is down to genetics!
What is it about running that you enjoy so much and how did you get into the sport?
There’s so much I love about running. Every run presents a new challenge, a new opportunity to push yourself in different ways. It gives you a chance to reflect on everything and take a break from all that is going on that you push aside, or don’t have time to normally think about. It also releases lots of positive endorphins, combined with the fresh air and sense of freedom. Above all else, it helps to keep me sane!
You must’ve been delighted to make your international debut so soon into your athletics career. What has been the secret to your success?
Blood, sweat and tears was the secret. Haha! Staying motivated, focused, being consistent in training, giving everything I can and having the determination to do it.
Can you tell us about your experience of representing Great Britain and competing in the World Half Marathon Championship in Poland, last October.
To this day I’m so thankful for still having the opportunity to represent Great Britain at the World Half Marathon Championships, in Poland, as it had been cancelled already once before due to the coronavirus pandemic and I was expecting it to be cancelled for a second time and not go ahead at all. So, when they announced it would be going ahead with very tight restrictions and changes, I was so happy as I had been training very hard and consistently for the new rescheduled date. It was a different experience to what we originally imagined it would be like, as the route was changed to a looped 5K course, no spectators allowed near the course, strict training area zones for athletes and regular Covid testing before and after the race. We can only be grateful as athletes that such a big event was allowed to go ahead and although it wasn’t the exact experience we would have wished for, it was still an incredible day and so glad to have been given the chance to be there.
Tell us more about you. How do you balance and manage your training alongside work and how have you coped during the periods of national lockdown?
Balancing work and training is tough, it requires a lot of motivation, especially some days when you’re feeling tired from working long hours and doing lots of training. I usually get up around 5.30am to train on a working day and finish work around 6pm and then go and train again straight after work. So some days I don’t get home until 8pm or 9pm depending where and how I train. After 18 months of doing this, I recently decided to decrease my working hours to part-time, as to be able to increase and improve on my training. It was the way forward to enable more recovery and better quality of training.
Lockdown hasn’t really changed that much for me as I pretty much worked the whole way through apart from the 4-5 weeks when our workplace closed, to which then I went on the furlough scheme. During that time, I just trained as I saw it as an opportunity to complete some good training whilst I wasn’t working such long hours. Shortly after that, I started back at work full-time so was fitting training around work again. But, lockdown hasn’t been easy when we are restricted to our bubbles and not able to use training facilities or train in groups.
Do you have a coach and training group to help keep you focussed and motivated?
Yes, I have a fantastic coach, Vince Wilson. He has helped get to where I am on this incredible journey and still continues to do so. I train with a small group that Vince coaches and they’re great. We help to push and support each other during sessions and they are all good pace setters!
Which athlete inspires you the most?
Paula Radcliffe, is one of my biggest inspirations. What she has achieved in her career is simply mind-blowing and she really helped to take women’s distance running to the next level.
What has been your favourite race in your career so far and which race would you most love to do in the future?
I love all of the races I’ve done because they all give me a different emotion afterwards and all tell their own story. But I loved the Vitality London Half Marathon, as that opened so many opportunities for me and to earn Great Britain selection that day was a tremendous sense of achievement.
Where is your favourite place to train/run?
I love Font Romeu. Absolutely incredible scenery and I can’t wait to return.
Your journey so far is nothing short of inspiring, to have achieved so much in such a short space of time. What are your short and long-term goals for the future and just how much do you think you are capable of achieving?
My short-term goals are to compete in my first elite full marathon at the British Olympic Marathon Trials, in March.
Long term goals are to improve on my 10K and half-marathon times this year and then focus on the Commonwealth games for 2022.
What are your favourite and most essential pieces of running kit?
Do you have any tips and advice for anyone new to the sport?
Enjoy your running, don’t give up at the first hurdle and always give it your best
You can follow Samantha and all of her running adventures here.