Sarah Roff

(Hastings AC)Sarah Roff_cr

Sarah Roff, 32, is currently in second position (after two races) in the 2014 Harvey Curtis Sussex Road Race Challenge. Given that she took up running only just over a year ago, her rapid progress signals huge potential, and she already has an enviable 10k PB of 36:14.

How long have you been running competitively?
My friend Phil at work convinced me to do the Tonbridge Half, which was September last year. At a local five-miler that I did as training, I met Andrew Titmuss, who introduced me to Heathfield Road Runners. HRR are a really friendly club and got me running the Sunday XC league, which was such fun that I got hooked. That gave me the confidence to start track sessions, so I joined Hastings AC. The knowledge and support of the coaches and other runners has helped me become competitive.

Proudest running achievement/PB?
So far, my times have been improving with each event, which is nice. Picking a favourite is difficult, as each race is so different. I loved the Hastings Half, as the crowd were great. Also the South Downs Relay is a brilliant team event with amazing trails. And I’m proud of my Sussex medals.

Current target race(s)?
I’m hoping to be injury-free to run the Barns Green Half. If I don’t make that, next is Brighton 10k, which will be a good challenge. I’m looking forward to flying round some XC courses over winter! One of my sisters, Gwen, has entered her first 10k, the Titsey trail 10k in Oxted, so I’m excited to be running that in October.

Average weekly mileage over last eight weeks?
I don’t tend to count miles. I’ll do a weekly speed session, a hill session and a long run of around 80 minutes, plus a couple of easy runs. Roughly five hours. Speed and distance can depend on how hard my day at work was, or whether I get lost on the footpath I’m trying to follow!

Favourite training session?
Any session where I get a feeling of accomplishment from pushing myself, ending it exhausted but happy.

Worst thing about running?
Not running. Having a rest is great but waiting to run again after an injury feels like a backwards-ticking clock. I also miss it because running makes me feel free. I enjoy the adrenaline and the serenity of different runs. Plus, my boyfriend Matt is a fantastic cake-baker; my cake-eating is more easily justified when running.

Road or trail?
Trail. I prefer running through mud and bluebells than on concrete. A sunset run spotting wildlife is heaven. Or finding a new place you didn’t know existed. XC races are great too when everyone gets plastered in mud.

Flat or hills?
Hills. I like something to break up a run. Nothing wrong with the challenge of a few hills, plus they are pretty unavoidable where I live.

Favourite running shoes?
Inov8s. They are nice and light with a wide fit and low profile. Though I like any bright trainers, I’d happily own 100 pairs.

Best piece of training advice you’ve ever been given?
Pete Standen, my coach at Hastings AC, is my best [source of] training advice. He writes me a plan each month. Having a plan and sticking to it has worked for me. Also just being around the other athletes and coaches; their dedication and enthusiasm is inspiring.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you took up running?
It’s been lovely how friendly and encouraging everyone in the running community is, and it’s really nice to see so many people achieving their own personal goals through sport. I’m still learning so much with my running. From what to eat, to how to avoid injury, to how far I can push myself.

Favourite post-run treat?
Chocolate milk. I tend to clear out the aisle at my local Waitrose. I’m probably addicted!

First published: 20th September, 2014.