Meet Sam Purnell

Sam is a running and fitness expert, they are adept at inspiring communities to come together and strap into their running shoes. Sam’s movement background aims at bringing a holistic approach to your running journey through more than just building up the kms. Whether you’re a seasoned runner or total novice, Sam’s sessions will give you an insight into how different skill, technique and care for your body can impact your running.

Tell us more about yourself: where in London you live, your work and interests, a quick bio of sorts!

I’m a running coach and pole tricks instructor, which has more of a cross over than you might think. I live in Hackney, East London. Hackney has loads of green spaces, making it a perfect borough for runners. And one of my favourite races is the Hackney Half, there’s incredible energy from the local community cheering the runners on and it’s such a joy to run around the neighbourhood I love so much.

How would your friends describe you?

Busy. I have a habit of saying yes to everything.

What got you interested in running / why do you run? When did you start?

I’ve been running on and off for a long time but didn’t invest myself in it until lockdown, like many others. It was the most accessible sport at the time for me and was the key movement in helping me manage my physical and mental health. Seeing the benefits it gave me at that time, I knew it was something I needed to keep up once normal life resumed.

How has your running journey changed over time?

Since high school, I’ve always done bits of running but it was a long time before I became invested. I often chose to run because of its accessibility, throwing on some old trainers and heading out the door. My interest really took hold during the pandemic, I was living with my family in Yorkshire and would go out running most days with my dad. When I came back to London, I looked for a club to help keep me motivated, this is when I found Queer Running Club. I’ve since gone on to become one of their coaches.

What is your motivation for training?

Community. Running with Queer Running Club and working within the pole community have been incredibly motivating. Finding spaces to exist as your true self and to be uplifted by the people within those spaces is an amazing feeling. 

Why are you interested in leading runs? What does running with others mean to you? 

Running with friends and finding community with like minded peers is what has led me to become a run leader. I’ve benefited in so many ways through finding this community and it feels important and a privilege to be a fundamental part of bringing that to others.

Why are you hosting this series? What do you hope people will gain from the run series?

The series is an opportunity for me to share a different side to running. Training isn’t just about logging the kms, it’s necessary to have a well rounded training programme, thinking about our technique, strength and mobility. I want to share the importance of holistic training with the goal of becoming better runners. 


Favourite place to run in London?

Hackney Marshes. Besides being a stones throw from home, this spot is an incredible open space that makes you feel like you’ve escaped the city entirely. Grassland, open water, nature and more than likely some friends to run along with.


Where can we find you on a Saturday in London?

Usually running around Victoria Park, followed by an oat flat white (this is East London after all).


What is the soundtrack for your running right now? What music best describes this period of training for you?

I’ve recently switched off the music. I’ve been out training with friends a lot more and enjoyed slowing down a little and taking the time to catch up. If I am running solo though, anything Kim Petras puts power in my stride.


Come run with Sam in our Waking Dreams Run Series leading up to The Hackney Half Marathon. Sign up here.


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