Sam Brooks began with Endorphin Fitness during their free-week trial in May of 2014, towards the end of her junior year of high school. She continued with Endorphin through her senior year and participated in the fall and spring seasons of the 2014-2015 school year. Her last full season of going to practices was the summer after she graduated from high school (summer of 2015), as she was heading off to college in the following August. Since then, at the college she attends, Guilford College, they do not have a triathlon team. In place of triathlon training, I’m on the cross-country team. Currently, she has been associated with Endorphin, but has not been training with them (due to cross-country). With all excitement, she was home this summer so she was able to have a training plan to continue with triathlon training!
Sam was always an active kid growing up, ranging from recreational cheering to basketball. After her brother revealed to her the world of running during 6th grade, it became her escape for anything. Sam laughs as she mentions that at this time she thought that OneStar, knock-off Converse were supportive enough for running. She found herself running more consistently, having the desire to join the middle-school and high school track/XC teams. In high school, this is when many dilemmas began to arise. She began to realize that she did not have the ideal runner’s body. She is significantly shorter than the average distance runner, and needed a lot of assistance with her form. Throughout her high school years, up to Endorphin’s free-trial in May of 2014, she suffered from many injuries that set her back farther than what she desired. This was mentally draining and really took her emotions, her self-esteem through a seemingly endless rocky road. Finally, one of her friends from school knew this and told her about Endorphin, a program that he had participated in for the previous few months. During these few months, he told Sam about the amazing opportunities and improvements he made with Endorphin’s coaching. Sam longed for the day where she could experience this, and it came.
Along came the one-week free trial. Her friend invited her, and Sam says was crazy enough to say yes. She showed up to practice in a two-piece bathing suit with basic swim skills, and ended breathless, ready for food. She went through the week enjoying every practice, but what really sucked her into Endorphin was a hot Thursday afternoon. Endorphin had a run workout at Deep Run Park. That afternoon, Michael spent the majority of the practice helping her with her form, teaching her, showing her the proper way of doing something that she truly loves. After practice, he gave all of the new athletes Endorphin shirts. That was the determining moment. She had never felt so satisfied and so blessed to have someone spend so much time helping her, tweaking something that she loves and making it better. To this day she is still incredibly thankful that Michael has helped her achieve something great, physically and mentally. This training began as cross training for her, but later turned into a love and an interest in the sport. She wanted to continue with triathlon training while being in college; unfortunately, Guilford does not have a tri team. In place of this she joined the cross country team. Due to the exceptional help that she received at Endorphin, she understands how to take care of her body and pay attention to her form. Currently she is beginning her third cross country season at Guilford. She is long due for triathlon training, but she receives little of this when they have pool workouts as a team and an exceptional amount with their running workouts. Sam just completed another summer of triathlon training, and this is definitely not the end.
The most important reason why she decided to join Endorphin was the atmosphere and the interaction between coaches and athletes. Many of the coaches that she encountered over the past three years have been willing to consistently assist her with improvement, whether it be by showing her correct running form or encouraging her through every 100m repeat. Three years ago, she also wanted to join the Endorphin family because it was something that she had never experienced. She had never been on a truly physically demanding sports team and she loved the aspect of mentally challenging herself to step out of her comfort zone to try something new.
Endorphin Fitness has helped her become more of a listener. When running, she doesn’t need music anymore. She can listen to the trees swaying in the wind, the crows calling to each other, the car’s tires spinning down the road. When swimming, she listens to the different frequencies of the water. It sloshes over her cap and takes away all of her thoughts. It soothes her in times of distress. When biking, every cycle that is completed is one cycle closer to long downhill that blesses the cyclist’s quadriceps. Endorphin has taught her to embrace the simplest of things. Be open, listen and learn from instruction. Be more aware.
With triathlons, she has only participated in two and both were the Pink Power Triathlon in Midlothian, Virginia. This is a sprint triathlon, consisting of a 400 meter swim, 11.4 mile bike ride and a 5 kilometer run. Of course this is her favorite one so far, but she plans to do more.
For this upcoming season, she is going to continue to run for Guilford College’s cross country team. This is her third season in running at Guilford and she is so excited to see what this year has to come. Unfortunately, Guilford does not have a triathlon program, but her coach knows that she really has a passion for it. When she returns to school the semester, he said that they will talk about enhancing this program into Guilford’s athletic program. One of her ultimate goals is to be healthy. This does not only mean nutritionally, but this entails her mental state and her physical state. With her history of injuries, her latest of which was a femoral stress fracture, she has to be very careful and cautious. She wants to be aware of this, but she also strives to overcome the struggle of overthinking pain.
So far since the beginning of the summer, she would say that this season has gone well. She felt healthy and mentally capable in every situation she encountered. She is beginning her cross country season with a brief period of summer triathlon training which has made her satisfied with her body, eased in her mind and striving to have new goals and ability to reach them. The triathlon that she completed on last Sunday was just the middle of her season. It was a brief end to triathlons, but now it’s on to cross country.
Her least favorite experience of a race (triathlon or XC) is when her adrenaline gets so high (towards the end of the race). She becomes really nervous and distracted, mentally telling herself that she is going to get sick. This happens in the majority of all of her races. This puts a lot of pressure on her mind and body, which is completely useless because it doesn’t help her. It distracts her from the beauty of the finish or the final twenty strides to the finish line. Her favorite race experience was when she crossed the finish line at her first triathlon. It was an accomplishment/experience that she would have never guessed would be bestowed into her path. The Pink Power Tri’s finish line is the finest line one sees during the race. It was one step closer to the watermelon, one step closer to the soft grass underneath her toes.
Since she is still quite an amateur when it comes to triathlons, she is going to take it from her experience with the Pink Power Triathlon. One thing that she really likes is how this race is all ladies. Sam says, “one of the coolest feelings is standing on a pool deck with all of them, all of us looking at the pool, awaiting our turn to start our race. It is empowering to see other ladies, of all ages, come together to embark on an athletic experience where many others would think we are absolutely crazy for doing so.”
Sam’s greatest advice to beginners? “
“Don’t be afraid to try. I am still an amateur when it comes to triathlons too. Don’t be afraid to ask if someone could explain something or show you a demonstration. You may fall on your bike. If you do, just get up and try again. Be excited for a new journey! Triathlon training challenges your mind and body in ways that are uncomfortable, yet so satisfying and so mentally stimulating. Be thankful for the time and the opportunity to engage in this type of training. It’s truly one of a kind and Endorphin Fitness is one rad group to experience this with. Two words: Be willing.”