How ‘Outlander’ star Sam Heughan gets ready for all those shirtless scenes
Scottish lads in the 18th century were, by necessity, strong and fit. But they didn’t look like modern-day bodybuilders. Sam Heughan does, and “Outlander” fans don’t seem to mind. The star spends plenty of screen time shirtless as the Highlands warrior Jamie Fraser on the Starz show, which starts its second season tonight. He bulked up for the role with what he called “functional weightlifting and CrossFit type stuff.” But he still makes time for his first fitness passion: running.
How did you get into running?
It just started with strapping on a pair of trainers and going outside. I was traveling a lot as a young actor, and while in a new city I’d want to see the place, so I would just put on my trainers and go for a jog. And the more I did that, the more I found I was traveling longer and longer distances. I just fell into it.
What are some of your fondest memories from your travel runs?
What was it that attracted you to marathon running?
I wanted to challenge myself. I am slightly competitive, but it was more about myself than competing against other people. I did my first one in Paris and loved the whole event: going to a different city, seeing all the sites, and for a space in time you feel like a professional athlete because people are cheering for you. You do one and then you want to do more.
Any other notable marathon experiences?
I did the Los Angeles Marathon last year, and that’s a good one. You get to see a lot of sites and I liked the idea of running to the sea; you can pretend that it’s downhill all the way. My best time is a 3:20 in Paris in 2010, and I trained to try for a 3-hour marathon in New York, but Hurricane Sandy hit and it was canceled. But I got to see New Yorkers band together and help each other out. A movement started called “Run Anyway” … so I did go to Central Park and ran. People were donating clothes and food to those who needed it. It was an amazing show of community spirit.
Tell me about the My Peak Challenge program you created.
I collaborated with my trainer in the UK and Bloodwise — a leukemia and lymphoma charity — and we created an event where I share my love of the outdoors. I’d been doing a lot of hiking in Scotland and discovering my country, so we built a charity that allows people to help themselves while they help others. It’s a workout program and the profits go to the charity. We’ve already raised over $170,000 in just three weeks. We have a whole community online now and it includes people from all walks of life.
Fell is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and owner of bodyforwife.com.