FOT Firsts – Anna Sayers

The Camino de Santiago

The Camino de Santiago is an ancient pilgrimage to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, started in the 10th century. It’s known as a way of reflecting on life and challenging yourself. So, naturally, our superstar Anna Sayers decided to run 155km over four days 🤩

Here’s what Anna had to say about her first time doing the Camino: 

So… Why did you decide to run the Camino?

Simple answer… logistics. The section I did is the section with the most footfall and so there are more hostels and places to eat while being in the countryside. It is also a pilgrimage route with lots of people all doing the same walk with the idea of finishing in Santiago de Compostela.

In terms of why do such a long run (when running is my second favourite discipline), that is a head scratcher. But I think I wanted to prove to myself that I had the strength to do hard things.

 

How were you feeling ahead of it?

Excited to be in the fortunate position of running the Camino. After spending lots of time on Instagram Reels watching people run on beautiful trails, I was excited to have my own adventure.

But also very much nervous as whilst I love to plan, but I am also terrible with dates and so I was nervous that I had booked the hostels and flights for the right dates and years etc. I was also pretty nervous to go out there alone and go run in parts unknown on my own as a young female traveller.

What were you worried about?

  • Blisters, I had just bought new shoes and I hadn’t really tested them much. Longest run was a 15k a couple weeks before and then a 5k. 
  • My planning skills and logistic.
  • The flight as I am a super nervous flier.
  • Back to back running days (only attempted that once and I was left with very sore legs and a bailed second day run).

 

 

How was the training?

Shamefully there was not enough running and I didn’t really stick to any kind of formal running training plan. However with moving flats, doing multiple exams, working full time and attempting to have a social life, things didn’t go to plan with the running aspect.

The complete lack of running training did mean however that I made it to the start injury free!

How did the club help you?

It’s now been almost exactly a year since I did my first session with the club and in that time I think that club has helped me in more ways than I realise.

Being surrounded by really amazing people doing much more inspiring things meant that I thought this was a possibility in the first place. Being with the club gave me the confidence to believe in myself and that I could (probably) do it. I told nobody my doubts before leaving especially my mum as she let me know before leaving that she would worry constantly.

How was the challenge?

It was cathartic, after losing a few people close to me in the lead up it really gave me the time to process my emotions and be in my second favourite happy place. 

I also had no idea what to expect, the weather even surprised me. The people I met on route surprised me. I surprised myself. The route was also surprising, I had no definitive map when I started and all the elevation was completely different to what was actually recorded (significantly hillier). Thankfully the route was well signposted, not even I could get lost (and I can be directionally challenged)

What did you learn?

  1. That I should believe that I can do hard things whatever that is (e.g. after breaking my elbow it was as simple as touching my shoulder!)
  2. ⁠To appreciate the support network from those around me;
  3. ⁠and to recognise the privileged position that I am in to be able to do this.

What’s next for you?

Well, in a couple weeks I have a 247km sportive cycle, then my first marathon – the Snowdonia trail marathon, Valencia marathon, a 10 mile TT ride, definitely a few more crits on the cards. I also want to fit in a 70.3… idk just gunna keep it casual for a bit. Lol

I also have wild plans to cycle the entire Tour de France route including transfers but still working out the logistics for that one and figuring out how to have lots of time off work!

To be featured in our next ‘FOT firsts’ send Ric Motti or Sophie Kirk a message!

 

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