Fast, over 40 and Fit with Erika Michelle Sampson
The beauty of running and fitness is that if you’re legit and serious about this lifestyle and most of all if you’re consistent you can essentially get older but at the same time age backwards. There’s also a thought that when you get older you essentially slow down which is another myth that’s been broken more than once. We like to follow journey’s of everyday runners that we can gain inspiration from and show us that as long as we keep at it, the hard work that we put in eventually pays off. Erika Sampson is one of those runners as that is super consistent and is clearly showing that the older you get the faster you can become.
MSM: So i’m not going to ask what your age is and we can let our readers think and guess what that is (lol).I just wanted to get that out the way real quick. You’re one of the most consistent runners I’ve seen these past few months as you’ve always racked up a good amount of monthly miles. When did your run journey begin?
EM: EM: I begin running at age 14. I was recruited in 8th grade by my high school track and cross country coach as I ran in high school as well as in college. I also ran track and cross country for the University of Houston. My events in track were the 800/1500. I was also an alternate for the 4 x 400. I am 47, soon to be 48 a grandmother and I have never been ashamed or afraid to tell my age.
MSM: What were some of the reasons/things that drew you into running? From your first few miles on the pavement up to now what made you want to get into road racing?
EM: As a child, I always enjoyed my physical education classes and I loved our field and sports days. I often won my running races on field and sports days in elementary school. So, naturally I competed in middle, high school and college. After college I ran for pure enjoyment and did not race. After I had children, I ran to get back in shape. However, the first part of 2014, I really did not run and started having a few health issues. My blood pressure was at stroke level one day at work and I passed out as I was at 40+ pounds overweight. After a check up and fussing (cussing, lol) from my doctor, I started run/walking on the track. I eventually worked my way up to running 3-6 miles per day about 5 times per week. I was a member of BGR Houston and one of the other members asked why I wasn’t doing any races. So I signed up for 6 5K’s for 2015 and ended up doing 16 races with my longest race being a 12K. I eventually started running with my Solerunners crew in Houston. One of the founders, Kahn, talked me into training with them and running my first half marathon in 2016. 23 half marathons and 1 marathon later, here I am.
MSM: Our run journeys always start on the side that is more struggle than success. What were some of your struggles early on and how did you manage to work through them?
EM: My first struggle was being consistent. Since I ran in college, I knew what it took to run faster but my work and life schedule was crazy at times, especially when my children were in high school and were in various sports and activities. I ran even when my schedule was crazy, but I did not improve until I was able to run on a more consistent basis and I did this by running early in the morning. Running early in the morning allows me to concentrate on my workouts while my mind is still fresh and before the weight of my work day consumes my energy.
MSM: Age is really just a number and how we choose to live our lives is essentially our choice and mental. You’ve essentially gotten faster with age. There’s a myth that says we are supposed to get slower but that’s not the case. For our readers take us through some of your training and how you’ve essentially improved as you’ve gotten older.
EM: I was definitely a much faster runner when I was in college. However, I have become faster since I started running again in 2014. I train consistently and really don’t miss workouts. I think I may have missed 3 workouts since last year. I run 5-6 days a week which includes speed work on the track, recovery runs, and long runs. I don’t do running streaks. I treat my rest days, like I treat my workouts, I don’t skip them. Another big factor is nutrition. I cleaned up my diet and saw a big improvement in my running.
MSM: Getting faster also means placing at some of the races you’ve run in. How do those successes feel? I’m sure the sense of accomplishment is huge which has also led to your peers looking up to you as a source of inspiration.
EM: It is great to place in a race but that is not why I run. I placed 4th in my age group at the Woodlands Half marathon in March of this year.. I missed the podium by 1 place but I was happy because I ran a faster time (and PR) then I did in January at the USA Sugarland Fit Half Marathon, where I won my age group. The Woodlands Half marathon had a bigger, more competitive field but I’ll take the faster time any day.
MSM: Since we’re talking about placing in your age group, give us some insight into some of the races you’ve run. I’m sure you have a decent amount of half marathons, marathons and other races under your belt.
EM: I have run 23 half marathons and 1 marathon since 2016. I didn’t think I would ever place in any distance above a 10K but that all changed in November 2020 when I ran the first race in the Texas 10 series (10 miler) and won my age group. I went on to win the Armadillo cup for my age group for the entire race series (7-10 mile races). The Texas Ten Series is holding a championship party on June 12, 2021. We will receive our Armadillo Cup prize money then. We (my training group team members) had so much fun doing that race series. The USA Sugarland Fit half marathon in January of this year was the first half where I placed and won my age group. That will always be a special race to me because I ran a 13 minute PR.
MSM: You’ve essentially unlocked a formula of the fountain of youth from a run standpoint. Everyone’s run journey is different but for a new runner getting started what advice would you give.
EM: It is all about the shoes for new runners. New runners should always go to a running store and get fitted for proper running shoes. New runners should never be intimidated by running with faster runners. Remember to always run your race and your pace.There will always be faster runners so chase them!
MSM: You’re definitely a runner that loves to travel to races in other states. What have been some of your favs over the years?
EM: My favorite out of state races are the Brooklyn half, Rock and Roll Virginia Beach half(2016 and 2019), Rock and Roll Las Vegas half, Chicago Fall Half (I love the Chicago run fam! BCR), AJC Peachtree Road race, and the Philly Half.
MSM: We all have our reasons for running, what is Erika’s reason and inspiration to have a want to always get up and run?
EM: Running gives me peace and allows me to disconnect from this crazy world. Running keeps me healthy, strong and fit so I can keep up with my granddaughters!
MSM: Running for you is definitely a lifestyle and it seems like it isn’t going to slow down anytime soon, what’s on the horizon for Erika as it seems as if we’re finally moving into post covid life. What are some races that are peaking your interest? I see that you have a revenge race.
EM: Well, I just started marathon training this week. It will be my second marathon and my goal is to BQ. I have my racing schedule planned through March 2022. I have AJC Peachtree Road Race on deck in July (my revenge race!), my marathon (Tunnel Light in September), Texas 10 Series starts again in September, The Race Half Marathon in October, The Houston Armco Half in January 2022 (my favorite hometown race) and the Miami Half Marathon in February 2022. I ran a qualifying time for the 2022 NYC marathon and I pray I get to run it in 2022.
MSM: Any last words that you’d like to share for our readers?
EM: Strengthen your core. Stay focused on your run goals by making running a habit even if it is just a few miles a day, and of course run happy.
MSM: How can we keep up with Erika and your run journey?
EM: Instagram is where I post my run journey (the good, the bad and the ugly).
MSM: From us here at Mid Strike keep improving and keep striving to be better, we salute you Queen.
EM: Thank you!