Interview with Sophia O’Sullivan

Sophia O'Sullivan

Sophia O’Sullivan has been running for four years off and on. She started as a volunteer at Poole parkrun and eventually got the courage to join in as a runner albeit a very slow one. Since then she’s discovered the joy of being part of a 12-month challenge with @MegaMeterRun, completing 50x 5km in 2019. She’s loving the routine and motivation that the challenges give her. It provides a springboard for her to improve her mental health. Running is an essential part of her recovery.

What is your proudest running achievement?

I think it has to be my very first parkrun in Poole in June 2017. I was literally terrified of the whole thing. Too many people. Everyone knew what they were doing but I didn’t. I would never have done it without the help of two friends. I’m so very glad I did.

What has running taught you? 

It’s taught me that I can do it. I can run, I have no need to compare myself to others. I am enough: within my own right.

What is your most ambitious running goal?

Often my most ambitious running goal is the one involving getting out of the door. Creating space for myself. Allowing myself to enjoy running. I achieve this every time I run.

Have you got any running stories to share?

My favourite are moments whilst running off road; I always run alone so the times when I lose my shoe in the mud, or have a close encounter of an animal kind. The squirrel that really made me jump and scream out loud. Closely followed by peals of laughter from me, once I realised what had made me jump.

What has been your worst moment as a runner? 

When I had an anxiety attack on the second loop of a parkrun circuit. I couldn’t take another step. Got stuck and was in tears. I got rescued by a kind lady but ever since then on that second loop I have a fear of history repeating itself. To conquer it, I started listening to music to take my mind off it. It works. Up to a point.

What is the most miles you’ve ever run in a week?

That’s 16.8.

What has been your most serious running injury?

Most serious injury was entirely avoidable. I got tendinitis on the top of my right foot from lacing the shoe too tight and not having the correct shoes. I couldn’t walk let alone run for a few days and couldn’t run for a few weeks.

What is the best advice you have ever received about your running?

You can do it. I got that reiterated time and time again from a good friend. He was right.

If you could go back and talk to yourself when you first started running, what would you say?

Expect DOMS and don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others. Be true to you.

Have you got a running hero or a runner you look up to?

For me it has to Andy Leggott, the founder of the Lonely Goat running club. He’s a thoroughly lovely person and his running club is the most inclusive and accepting group of people ever. This is a massive achievement bearing in mind the thousands of people who call themselves ‘goats’.

In one sentence, what does running mean to you?

It means everything, my freedom, my health, my soul.

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