Runner Questionnaire – Sarah Parks

When and why did you start running?

I’ve played sports my whole life. I played basketball, field hockey, soccer and ran track in high school. Then I went on to play Division 1 Basketball in college and in a semi-professional league in Ireland. I dabbled off and in running in my 20s and 30s, but nothing too serious. I ran my first marathon in 2019, as I had always had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to run one. Then I started really training to become a faster runner in the Summer of 2021 and joined the Willow Street team in Fall of 2021. I run because it is the best stress reliever, because I love the comradery of my fellow runners, and because I love competition!

What’s your favorite race to date, and why?

I don’t think anything can beat the 72K Extreme Adventure Race (run, swim, kayak and bike) on the island of Koh Samui in Thailand! It was just a wild and fun adventure!

What has been your biggest running adventure to date?

It would be the 72K Extreme Adventure Race (run, swim, kayak and bike) on the island of Koh Samui in Thailand. I also did a lot of fun and crazy runs with the Hash House Harriers (international social running club) through the jungles of Thailand and city streets of Bangkok.

What is your approach to training? Do you follow a particular training plan, or do you work with a coach and if so, who?

My weekly goal is one long run, one tempo run, an interval workout, and 1-2 other runs but...I often don’t get to fit this all in. Hopefully, when my 2 young kids start school full time, that will happen! I don’t have any formal coaches, but I have to give credit to the group of guys I’ve been running with since Summer of 2021. I wouldn’t be where I am today without their knowledge and guidance. Shout out to Russell Lauer and Ben Heller and to all the rest of the guys who challenge me to run faster!

What is your weekly mileage in peak racing/marathon training season? What is your approach to the off season

Well, ideally, I’d be around 40+ miles a week, but I’m generally just getting in ~30 miles a week. Last winter, I just continued running right on through, but might consider some other approaches in future years.

During our cold winter days, do you brave poor weather conditions or stick indoors on the treadmill? If you do run outside, what safety measures do you take?

Brave the weather, even as the extreme cold freezes the water in my water bottles during the run! Fleece lined leggings, lots of layers, gloves, ear protection, neck gaiter for the cold. Lighted vest and headlamp for the dark.

List your PRs: Race, time, year

5K – 20:59 (2022)
10K – 45:20 (2022)
15K – 1:07:00 (2019)
Half Marathon – 1:43:00 (2020)
Marathon – 3:53:54 (2019)

What was your worst injury and how did you get over it?

Thankfully, I haven’t had any major injuries due to running yet. Minor ones have been resolved with a little bit of physical therapy and lots more stretching!

Your favorite shoe for training and racing

I switch back and forth between Asics Gel-Kayano and Brooks Adrenaline GTS. I don’t have racing shoes...maybe someday.

Ever run in a costume?

Surprisingly, I don’t think I have.

Do you work with a dietitian to enhance your performance? If so, who?

I don’t work with a dietitian, but I did just check out ‘Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow.’ from the library, so maybe I’ll manage to incorporate some of those recipes into my rotation.

What are your favorite pre-race and post-race meals?

Night before pre-race I like to eat homemade pizza. Pre-race morning I eat a Greek yogurt and a banana. If the race is a little later in the morning, I also take a few bites of some kind of bar. And I like to have a gel shot about 20 minutes before a race. Post-race meals often include a few egg sandwiches!

What activities do you enjoy when not running?

I do a bit of yoga, reading, knitting, adventures with my kids and husband, and crossword puzzles. I also love making maps/doing GIS work.

What challenges / races / adventures are you planning for the coming year?

I will run races that support the Willow Street team, and I also like to participate in HMRRC Grand Prix Series.

What is the greatest piece of advice you've ever received in the sport?

My own advice to myself is that running should be fun and enjoyable. I spent so much time in high school and college beating myself up over poor sports performances, and it did me no favors. I definitely learned from that, and I am happy to be in my 40s and to be truly able to enjoy a sport and not be super tied to any of my results or performances. I just go out there and do my best and have fun doing it!

DSA Race 2022 Top Three - left to right: Sarah #2, Liz Chauhan #3, amd Lisa Chase #1

Click here for Runner Questionnaires from other top runners in the Albany Region


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