UP Top 5 Ultramarathon Tips

Top tips for ultramarathons

UP top 5 tips for ultramarathons

In association with my fuel sponsor Pursu, here are 5 top ultramarathon tips that I have learned so far. There are many, but these have been particularly helpful for me running distances beyond the marathon; so over 26.2 miles.

1. Be curious

People often ask why. However, the answer is not straightforward and each person will have their own reasons why they run for hours and hours, and hours. So you need to be curious about yourself and what you can achieve — what is under your hood? One thing for sure, is that you get to know more about who you are, especially during the long sections when you maybe running alone.

This somewhat blends with your purpose. Some will run for a cause or charity, mine being Understand Pain. This I have written about in the marathon tips blog and the keeping going blog. For the inevitable tough moments that make you and the event, we need strategies to continue putting one foot in front of the other. This ranges from dogged determination to using visualisation. Be curious about how you approach them, what you think, what you do, and how you steer yourself onward.

2. Look after your feet

Running the Isle of Wight Challenge recently, I was surprised at how many people left their foot care until when the blisters had caused them to stop. Some were in a really bad state — agonising. I am sure a number of such folk would have dropped out having done all that preparation. That must be so disappointing, especially when that degree of injury was preventable.

Of course this includes choosing the right footwear. I recently made a mistake that I am now recovering from. Excitedly I selected a pair of road shoes that had too much stability, meaning that I was taking extra strain around my hips, pelvis and lower abdomen. Over months and many miles sensitivity built up — I am sensitive, resulting in feeling sensations and emotions more richly, and frequently aware of bodily sensations. On going for a closer examination of the fitting of my runners, I am now in a neutral shoe and half a size up. Heaven!

On feeling the familiar tingle that warns of a blister coming, be quick to take action. If you are out on a long run, you can dry your foot and apply a dressing such as a Compeed, perhaps even taping it for added security. Choosing good running socks is important as they pull the moisture away from the skin. However, sometimes even with the best care, the sheer number of steps, the temperature and ground conditions cause rubbing and blisters. We just need to minimise the risk and take care early. A further preventative measure is to apply an anti-blister stick to vulnerable areas before running.

3. Fuel

Getting fuelled up before, during and afterwards is vital for these longer runs. Each person must find their own way according to individual needs and tolerances. Some ultra runners eat pizza and burrito at lunch. I can’t stomach that kind of food, instead opt for the stuff my body needs. Working out a plan and trying different foods is part of your training. Don’t leave it to discover on the day that you cannot digest certain things and then find yourself running with a bag of cement in your stomach. Or worse…

Read up on what you need nutritionally and then choose your foods. My basic routine is this: lots of protein and fibre in the week before (chicken, tuna steaks, veg, fruit, flaxseed, nuts, seeds, beetroot); carbs the two days building up to the event (pasta mainly), especially spaghetti bolognese the night before (that’s a tradition now) with extra spaghetti; porridge on the morning of the run with at least one proper coffee, water, Pursu bar, banana and maybe a handful of nuts.

During the run I will sip water and an energy drink (2 bottles in my chest pack). Mostly at the rest stops I take on a banana (potassium), wet fruit (e.g./ melon), cookies, salt and vinegar crisps (salt), shot of coffee (especially in the morning), coke (flat) and water. I carry gels that I use as needed whilst on the go.

Afterwards I usually crave pizza, coke (cold and fizzy), and anything else that is in my path….

4. Enjoy the ride

Typically the longer runs are along scenic routes. I make a point of taking it all in as I am trotting along. One of the privileges of running is being able to see things you would not otherwise see.

Life appears to go by so quickly. My sense of time always shifts dramatically when I am out running for hours. I lose track, and it’s wonderful.

On the IOW Challenge there were long periods of running alone. I like that, but it is also great when you come across and fellow participant. Sometimes you run together for a while and chat. There’s an immediate connection because you are both doing something mad.

5. Look after your body (your whole self)

Not that your body is separate from your embodied mind — the body keeps the score of all your experiences. Regular readers of my blogs about overcoming pain will know that I firmly believe in the notion of the whole person.

That said, the conditioning behind the scenes is an important part of the training programme. In brief, the main components should include strength, body control (balance work) and flexibility (yoga, stretching). Often I speak to amateur runners, even those who are accomplished, and they pay little attention to conditioning their body. There are two primary risks of this approach: (1) injury (2) not reaching your potential.

Day to day behind the scenes routines make the difference: diet, sleep, how you manage your life, regular movement (especially if you have a sedentary job), how you roll with the inevitable ups and downs of life. The race is just the tip of the iceberg; the reward if you like. This depends upon the running training but also how you look after yourself. With athletes, I spend time with them looking at ways that they can improve their outcomes by best managing all these areas of life that are inseparable, much as mind and body are inseparable. You are a whole person, on a timeline when nothing happens in isolation.

For more on this, please contact me: richmond@specialistpainphysio.com

RS

Next challenge >> Isle of Wight May 4/5 #upandrun 2019

#upandrun 2019 series >> Isle of Wight Challenge

I’ve sat and watched the London Marathon this morning as part of my preparation for the double ultra next weekend. It’s so inspiring to see the elites make it look so easy in their relaxed yet relentless pursuit to cross the line. Equally inspiring are the thousands of people driving themselves round the streets of London for a cause. All in all, very positive. Then the crowd plays its part without limit. So well I can remember the encouragement all the way, and then that final stretch……….it’s like winning the Olympic gold as people roar, wave, blow instruments and all the rest. The feeling is like nothing else whether you are in 1st place or hours later — I know the latter 🙂

This week I have set up a simple plan to relax, stretch, move and eat well, plus massage and yoga. I do have a mild groin strain off the back of the Brighton Marathon a few weeks ago, so will be putting plenty of emphasis on nourishing with movement.

Next:

Don’t forget the fun quiz night coming up on May 22nd at Wags N Tales in Surbiton raising money for Understand Pain social enterprise and CRPS UK charity. Tickets here.

Plus, on the afternoon of the 22nd I will be talking about pain and practical tools and strategies that people can use to improve their lives. Tickets here

Why?

Just in case you are new to the site, the purpose of Understand Pain is to raise awareness of the problem of pain, the No1 global health burden, and what we can do to improve lives. With some 100 million people in Europe suffering, and the yearly costs reaching 441bn Euros, the outcomes must change. The major hurdle is that pain is largely misunderstood meaning that people are not aware of their choices, ways that they can cope with the pain so that they can move on, and that indeed pain can and does change. Our understanding of pain has progressed enormously over the past 10 years. There has been some great revelations via the research, but also from related fields.

We are not just talking about back pain, neck pain or other common musculoskeletal pains. Think of all the conditions and situations in which pain features: cancer, diabetes, heart disease, auto-immune diseases, irritable bowel syndrome, pelvic pain, headaches, migraines, dementia. When you see all those charities running today, there are few, if any, where pain is not part of the reason for suffering. There is so much we CAN do, starting with understanding pain. And on this, Understand Pain, or UP, is keen to work with any charity or organisation that represents a condition that features pain.

If you have any questions or believe that you can help in some way, including donating funds to scale our work (e.g./ workshops across the UK), please get in touch: richmond@specialistpainphysio,com

Keep an eye out for the hashtag #upandrun as I keep plodding for pain!

RS

#upandrun Pain Points (5): Pain can and does change

Pain can and does change

This is a strong message and one that must be realised.

Life is only possible because of change and impermanence. Each moment unfolding is new, and fresh. Bodily sensations such as pain appear in our awareness as the objects and contents of consciousness, just as thoughts, sounds and what we see appear to us. This is our lived experience. When we stop and watch our own experience, this can be realised.

What often stays the same and recurs is what we tell ourselves about the pain we are feeling. Of course this can be reinforced by the fact that the same things are challenging each day. We attach to our stories. The inner dialogue can be so influential despite the fact that much of what we tell ourselves is untrue, self-critical or pure nonsense at times. What we need is a self-encourager that comes from self-compassion.

A problem that we can all have is the remnants of, or continuation of coping strategies that we once learned to shut off from stress, avoid pain and protect ourselves in the short term. However, in the longer term, the coping strategies cause dysfunction and prevent us from getting better and improving our lives. These are not set in stone and we can create new habits that build wellness and resilience, which support us create a better life.

Mindful practice and meditation is one way of realising this experience, gaining insight into the difference between the sensations of pain and the thoughts that we have about the pain. Learning how to observe our thoughts, feelings and experiences enables us to cut through the sense of self, be in touch with reality (the present and only moment), let go and liberate ourselves from on-going suffering.

Buddhism talks about the two arrows. The first arrow is the pain that you feel. The second arrow is the suffering caused by the way you are thinking about your pain. Learning about the knowing the difference is important.

There is much to be hopeful for. For some years I have focused on helping people gain insight into their suffering and what they can do to move onward. Compared to 10 years ago, people are much more open to what we know about pain rather than being dominated by limited beliefs and social conditioning that we are all subject to in unique ways from childhood through. The research and study of pain continues to reveal much that we can distill into practical tools for day to day use. Improving lives is a learning process, taking on new habits to build momentum. Some of the skills initially surprise people, but soon enough they realise their potency in changing our experiences sustainably.

RS

#upandrun 2019 series

#upandrun 2019
Training in Glasgow

Brighton Marathon 2019

Recently we have added another event to the #upandrun 2019 series — running to increase the awareness of the problem of pain; the No.1 global health burden.

On 14th April I will be running the Brighton Marathon jointly for UP (Understand Pain) and CRPS UK, two years after a similar project with the London Marathon. The Brighton Marathon is celebrating 10 years, so congratulations to the designers and organisers for achieving the milestone. The weekend is packed with different events including mini races for younger runners. And it is all by the sea, so we can be breathing in that sea air as we run along the route. I can’t wait!

The CRPS UK team will be in the Charity Village so do come and say hello. I will also be around before and after the race to chat.

Fundraising, an UP workshop and quiz night

This is a fundraiser as well as an awareness event. The money that is kindly donated goes towards the work of both CRPS UK and UP. There will be several associated events: (1) an Understand Pain Workshop for people suffering chronic pain to learn about what they can do to move forward with practical knowledge and skills (2) a quiz night at Wags N Tales in Surbiton. The quiz night we held in 2017 was a great success. People came from from far and wide to support us, enjoying the quiz, the company and the food. As soon as dates and other details are confirmed, we will broadcast the information.

Isle of Wight Challenge

The next event is in May when I will be spending the Bank Holiday weekend trotting round the island coastal path.

I am really excited about this run because it will be my first ultramarathon, covering 106km over the two days. The scenery is stunning around the Isle of Wight, so a combination of the beautiful coast and the camaraderie with fellow runners awaits.

Race to the Stones 2019

Two months later in July, The Race to the Stones will take me… ‘from the Chilterns to the mystical North Wessex Downs past mighty iron age forts, ancient monuments and through some of Britain’s most stunning landscapes’, along a 5000 year old route. I love the mystical element, but I will not be dressing up!

With these great events coming up soon, training is occupying a good amount of my ‘spare’ time. Clocking up the plodding miles so far has been surprisingly enjoyable, despite tough periods of running with tired legs, various tightnesses and twitches and restless nights. One of the main reasons is the purpose behind #upandrun. Knowing and reminding oneself of the purpose is a strong motivator to both get out there and to keep going. These are also metaphors for life, and many can be found in the running world.

On my shirt is the UP logo, and just seeing that and knowing what it represents drives me onwards. Behind it is the day to day work of sharing the latest understanding of pain so that as a society we can reduce the suffering and the financial burden. Recent figures suggest that the annual cost of chronic pain in Europe is in the region of €441bn. The stats are similar in the US. And then there is the rest of the world. This is truly a global problem of enormous scale that I believe we can make an impact upon by developing our thinking in line with current understanding and models of pain.

RS

New Mindful App

Waking Up

A new app from Sam Harris offers a simple way to integrate mindful practice into daily living. Harris is a well-known neuroscientist, thinker and writer. Recently, he published a book, ‘Waking Up’,  with the same name as the app and his excellent podcast.

There are many mindfulness and meditation apps, so what makes this one different?

There are a number of features that I like about this app. At first glance, it is easy to use with two primary interventions: the daily mindfulness practices together with a series of short lessons. Understanding the practice of meditation and mindfulness is important. With the rise of popularity, the true purpose has been lost within promises of what the practices deliver to sell them as a commodity.

Each day a meditation practice is encouraged to build momentum. The bite-sized sessions are appealing because we all have 10 minutes we can dedicate to ourselves (in a kindly way). The meditations are simply numbered: day one, day two, day three etc. The first 3 come with the app, and as you progress, further practices are unlocked. I think this is rather motivating.

Learn to use your mind instead of your mind using you

Ajahn Brahm speaks about greeting mindful practice like an old friend across the street who you have not seen for years — that feeling. The daily practices being unique and building on the last creates a sense of learning, growing and development. The user is learning and becoming familiar with the way that his or her mind work. That is the essence of mindfulness. To know one’s mind is a valuable life skill; if not the most valuable.

To gain full access a subscription is necessary. This can be monthly (£7.49) or yearly (£55.99).

Harris’s approach is non-spiritual. Some people are concerned that to practice mindfulness is to take an alternative spiritual path. Whilst indeed many do practice as part of a spiritual journey or dimension to their life, this is not necessary. And you do not need to wear anything special either.

In the Pain Coach sessions we typically practice mindfulness to become familiar with the way your (embodied) mind works. We know that focus and attention can improve along with emotional flexibility. To this I would add the notion of ‘seeing things for what they really are’, or being in touch with reality. It is certainly not about relaxing or thinking happy thoughts or trying to achieve or fix something. It is about being and seeing, letting go and being open, curiosity and noticing.

Usually I will send a recording of the session to the person so that they can practice at home. However, there is immense value on having different quality resources, alternative angles and voices to which to listen. The Waking Up app is most definitely that, so if you like, give it a go.

 

The day after…

Some reflections on the day of the Beachy Head Marathon; the experience, running and what’s next for #upandrun.

What an incredible day it was yesterday. Everything came together on the south coast to create the perfect backdrop for #upandrun at the Beachy Head Marathon and Beachy Head 10k.

Hats off to my wife Jo, who volunteered to run the hilly 10k course, for UP. Jo would tell you that she doesn’t really like running, however, she certainly experienced the runner’s high yesterday, feeling that unique sense of joy as you pass under the finish line.

This is a beautiful part of the UK, and the marathon opens the opportunity to get out there and experience the rolling hills, steep climbs and hugely encouraging Sussex people. In a way I could say that I ate my way around the course. I certainly had about six Mars bars amongst other fare to keep us going. And then there was the band!

Trail running is different to the typical road race. Most people are there to ‘enjoy’ themselves, take in the views, feel that sense of camaraderie and complete the course. The fuelling stations were most welcome — the smiling faces, hands holding out drink and boxes of chocolate, biscuits, bananas and of course, jelly babies.

The run is the main event, yet the conversations and comparing of notes before and after are all part of the fun. The smiles and nods, the acknowledgements of fellow participants and others all make it special. Into the night you could still see the glint of the swinging gongs, the badges of courage and completion.

Many run for causes — you know why we were running. Reading other’s shirts, some printed and some scrawled, ‘mum’ for example, it all provides the narrative. So many stories that make for the rich, shared experience.

The last section of the marathon was the most scenic. The Seven Sisters provided the view and the journey, up and down (breaks on!!).

The day’s many high points remain vividly in the memory. They will provide great boosters for future runs. The basis of using strengths-based coaching is to clarify what went well and how one can build on this moving forward. Preparation and planning the day certainly form strong building blocks: the building of tolerance with months of training, taking it easy the week before the day, eating well the night before and looking after one’s energy during the run.

‘Me, my legs and I’ was a draft blog that I was writing during the training for this marathon. It’s a lengthy and involved process, much like life. There are many analogies that one can draw from distance running, for life is an endurance event in itself. How we prepare, the approach we choose to take, how we bounce back, how we roll with life’s challenges, how we remain present and see reality, how we let go and how open we are to whatever is or may happen are all important factors that determine the quality of our life, and the run. Or vice versa.

I have a number of mantras that I have used to keep going, whether it be the run or life. Yesterday I didn’t need too many. It was just one of those days that it all worked. The sun, the view, the vibe, the support, having loved ones around, the Mars bars. But sometimes we need more. At one point I stuck on ‘Nothing but a good time’ by Poison. I ‘rocked’ up the hill!

And so to the end. I had a text from Jo, who had completed her run and was ecstatic. I called her up and we shared her joy — what a massive motivator it is to hear someone buzzing with such excitement! Before I knew it, I was coming towards the final descent, a steep one. Watch the steps, people yell as you come down the hill. The final boost was hearing my kids singing happy birthday over the loud speaker as I came along the final straight. They had the microphone! Awesome!

As the sun was setting over Eastbourne and Beachy Head, I felt that I had somehow ‘done’ the hills. Then I thought about it and realised that you never can. They are always there, despite some cracks and crumbling. You never beat the hill, just your own fears and worries.

Until next time.

And the next #upandrun challenge. Look out for the logo! And the Understand Pain Workshops — next one in Preston on Nov 3rd >>> free tickets here. Please do share this so we can have as many people attend as possible. The more sharing, the better!

Farewell Eastbourne, for now.

RS

#upandrun ~ Beachy Head Marathon & 10K

Beachy Head cliffs

Only a few days to go until the Beachy Head Marathon and 10K. Followers will know that we are running to raise awareness of the work of UP, Understand Pain. UP is the social enterprise dedicated to changing the way society thinks about pain to reduce the enormous burden of suffering.

There are a number of things to get right when running a marathon. Fortunately I have some solid advisors around me for training, kit and strategy. Then there is the question of fuel, both day to day, before and after longer runs and during the runs — I have just had to accept that those gels are vile to get down but serve a purpose…

I must admit, I have enjoyed the eating bit of the preparation as I did before the London Marathon in 2017. Flaxseed, porridge, nuts, greens, juices, beetroot (and beetroot shots), pasta, rice, cheese…. yum! Then there are the energy bars; and I really like these. So, I was delighted to accept sponsorship by Pursu Nutrition, and not just because I had sampled and loved the bars during the experimentation process.

Pursu nutrition bars cycling

There is a synergy between UP and Pursu that started with the creator, Sanjay, coming to see me about a common cycling pain problem (pudendal neuralgia) that is typically enduring and limiting — his story to follow. It was during our work together when he overcame his pain, that Pursu came into existence. We chatted a fair bit about the bars, but mainly about the purpose, the mission, the ‘why’, which always resonated with that of UP.

I was most excited to be given a box of bars by Sanjay. I am pleased to say that I have managed to keep enough for the day, for both Jo (my wife) and I (this time Jo volunteered to run the 10k whereas previously I persuaded her do run the Royal Parks 1/2 marathon, apparently…!). I admit that I did eat two on the way home.

Sanjay on his bike
Sanjay ~ creator of Pursu

The rolling hills of the South Downs await us. This week is a little like a phoney war as others who have tapered will know. The feeling that I should be doing something has to be overcome by simply resting, stretching, moving, a couple of light jogs and then stuffing our faces on Friday. Ha!

Look out for our posts. If I can take footage on the run I will, to share the experience! Please share and spread the word about our work. We have an UP Workshop on Nov 3rd in Preston that is free for people suffering pain (click here) and the UP Programme will be on the website very soon as a starter to be built upon — a range of tools and practices; knowledge, skills and know how to overcome pain.

What is to overcome pain? This means living your best life, considering your circumstances, building wellness and focusing on what you can do each day to achieve a picture of success. Pain is not permanent; we change. I want you to reach your potential and overcome pain by living, feeling inspired, enabled and in control.

understand pain logo

On we go.

A vital question

IMG_3413
Chicago Downtown from The Willis (Sears) Tower 

A vital question is one that can make a significant difference to your understanding, your beliefs, your decisions and ultimately your actions. This affects your quality of life.

At the Understand Pain Workshop I encourage questions. The session is for the attendees to glean as much information and practical know-how as they can. So on being asked a classic pain question, the opportunity presented itself to nail one of the biggest misunderstandings.

Arguably the belief that pain is related to tissue state beyond any other association is the problem. On hearing about the latest knowledge about pain, the person can then find themselves in no man’s land. This is the intellectual point in time when you can be caught between two models, the old and the new. Which do you believe? The old often runs deep. It can feel really uncomfortable too. We are surrounded by the biomedical explanations in the media, with adverts, from those around us and healthcare providers.

The question

So what was the vital question asked at the workshop? It was simply put: is this all in my head? The question came off the back of being presented with the latest thinking and science of pain — not that this is in, or should be considered to be exclusive. In other words, pain science is really a conglomeration of fields of study such as basic neuroscience, cognitive sciences, social psychology, consciousness science and perceptual studies to name but a few. As ever, for science to move forward, we need to ask great questions. This is where contemporary philosophy delivers with the likes of Andy Clarke and Jakob Hohwy amongst others.

To understand pain is to understand being human. Our strengths, our weaknesses, our biases, our attentional scatter, our changeable emotional states, our inability to suffer skilfully (due to society encouraging us to try to avoid something that is unavoidable) and our tendency to live by illusions of the mind instead of reality. Escaping from our bodies is something we learn early in life, as we climb into our minds to avoid turbulent emotions. Who ever gets taught how to face these challenging emotions? Society encourages the exact opposite. The short-term cover ups or fixes.

We will be sure to try to meet our needs for relief. We can do so in a healthy way or an unhealthy way. Lacking any tangible or obvious options, it is understandable why one would reach for something unhealthy: alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, sweet stuff, or another way of trying to feel better in that moment. The problem is that this does not last because the problem has not been addressed. Only by courageously facing and seeking to transform suffering do we experience sustained change in a desired direction.

Teaching pain

There are a number of pain facts we can use to help people understand their experience. For example:

  • Pain and injury are poorly related
  • Pain is related to perception of threat
  • Several of the major influences upon a pain experience (and the actions you take) include emotional state and tiredness
  • Pain, as with any conscious experience, is the brain’s best guess
  • Pain is embodied
  • Pain is embedded in society
  • What you are focusing upon determines your quality of life

Looking at this list and more, and considering the position of the biomedical model that seeks damage or pathology to explain pain, the gap becomes apparent. Whilst the biomedical model plays a role in identifying such damage and pathology to determine whether a surgical or medical approach is necessary, it does not provide answers to why pain experiences vary so much.

IMG_3331
The Pain Coach Workshop at Entropy in Chicago

How is it that a paper cut can be so painful? Why can we feel pain in fresh air in the case of phantom limb pain? How does someone run on a broken ankle? How can someone be impaled yet feel no pain? And so on. One simple way to consider pain and injury is by the fact that the former is subjective and cannot be seen, whereas the latter is objective and is usually identifiable. The way that the injury, pathology or lack of observable damage is experienced will depend on context, existing biological state, prior experience, the impact in terms of perceived limitations, expectations, and beliefs about pain and injury. There’s a lot more, but this covers a good amount of ground for now.

Pat Wall (one of the forefathers of modern pain medicine and science) in 1979 and John Loeser (the originator of the biopsychosocial model) in 1982 both described the lack of relationship between pain and injury, so this is not new thinking. It is simply that society has gone with another, simpler and if I am cynical, financially convenient explanation(for many stakeholders — those that treat using the biomedical model & pharmacological companies). Loeser said:

“Physicians and patients usually harbor a concept of pain that involves a linkage between body damage and the pain reported by the patient. This is an inadequate concept that leads both physicians and their patients into unnecessary difficulties in the management of chronic pain.”

On being presented with the seemingly new thinking about pain, some people then make the assumption that the clinician is suggesting it is somehow in their mind or their head. On doing so, they have missed a couple of key points: pain is always embodied and pain is whole person.

Pain is always embodied

Pain can only be experienced in the body, or where the body should exist (and a representation continues to exists in the nervous system) in the case of phantom limb pain. Pain involves the brain, our thinking, our emotions and hence our mind, but it is always felt in the body. It is never imaginary, and anyone who suggests that this is the case does not understand pain.

Pain is whole person

It is the whole person who feels pain, not the body part. If my knee hurts, my knee does not go off to seek help, I do. Much like if I am thirsty, my mouth does not go to get a drink, I do.

Considering that it is the whole person, it follows that how they are in any given moment will impact upon how they experience pain and the choices that they make to relieve their pain. This is why it is vital to treat the person, and not the body part or simply a condition. Oliver Sacks, the great neurologist and writer, said this from the outset. Many other great physicians and clinicians have agreed and achieved results as a consequence. I live by this notion, knowing that to focus on the person and their needs is the way forward. To focus on the pain leads to poor outcomes.

The definitive answer

The answer to the question, ‘is it in my head?’, or, ‘is it in my mind?’ is no. Pain involves many body systems (most of the biology of pain is not where you feel it) gathering information. The brain interprets this sensory data in the light of what has already been and is known before generating a prediction of the most likely causes of that data — a best guess (see a great talk here from Anil Seth). This is both whole person and embodied as explained briefly above. Understanding this is a key step in the right direction, and part of an overall understanding of pain that allows the person to engage fully with the necessary practices, training and actions that permit progression, living and overcoming pain.

On we go as ever.

Please do share this article with fellow clinicians, friends, and others who need to understand pain.

The next Pain Coach Workshops are in London and Preston

 

Chicago day 1

There’s no better way to shake off the travel tiredness than to head out for a run in a new city. Fortunately Chicago offers a beautiful route along the edge of Lake Michigan, which happened to unsettled this morning under the moody sky.

Having fiddled around with the workshop content this morning, I set off to explore some of the city. By foot and public transport are my favoured ways of both getting about and getting a feel of the place.

My first observation is the simple friendliness of Chicago. It has been easy to navigate my way around because people are delighted to help. Whether it be the direction, working out the ticket machine or simply reminding you to hold on as the bus pulls away, there’s feeling of, we’re in this together. I like that. I also like the local accent.

By the way, when the bus pulls off, it is so gentle! I don’t think you could fall over, even if you weren’t holding on.

Chicago is packed with great looking coffee shops. Places to hang out without pressure to finish up and move on. The pace feels slow. Maybe that’s because I’m in no hurry today, but I haven’t seen many people in a hurry. I have seen many people taking it at their own pace.

Rolling up to Lincoln Park then Wicker Park and onto Logan Square, there’s a hip, laid-back feel. I’m looking forward to a couple of nights up this way. No longer have I my beard and I didn’t bring a check shirt, so I may look out of place. Or maybe not. Perhaps that’s just the London hipster thing.

Of course the main purpose of coming to Chicago is to share an approach to overcoming pain. Tomorrow with clinicians and Monday with some people who are suffering. As I was running through my (many) slides, it reminded me of how pain is such a huge topic because it must draw upon so many fields. The reality is that pain and our brains don’t much care about this. And indeed the reason is that pain is as complex perhaps as consciousness itself, of which it is part at times.

I couldn’t help but notice the advertisements asking for participants in medical the bus there were at least two; post-shingles pain (neuralgia) and schizophrenia. I wonder how many people apply. The wording is rather persuasive and suggestive of ‘free treatment’. Have a look below and see what you make of it.

An easy night ahead before the Pain Coach Workshop tomorrow. I’ve warned the participants that they are just that, not attendees. The day is fully immersive as together we experience the practices from start to finish. If we are encouraging patients to do things, so should we. The point is that we are all patients really.

Pain Coach Workshop Chicago is being hosted by Entropy Physio — Sarah and Sandy it be precise.

There are 2 workshops coming up in the UK in London and Preston.

UP goes to Chicago

Next month UP goes to Chicago where I will be delivering an Understand Pain Workshop at Entropy. This is an exciting step for UP as we start our new chapter on changing pain in society.

UP was always supposed to be a global phenomena, and this is our first international event. The plan is for many more, both in terms of our reach via the web and in person at workshops.

Understand pain and understand your potential

The UP workshops are for people who suffer chronic and complex pain who need to understand their pain and their potential. Most people I meet have insight into neither as society continues to suffer the consequences of old thinking about pain. Still there is a the predominant search for a body structure or pathology to explain pain, both in healthcare and by the person. We have known for a long time that this is simply not true. The workshop reveals what we do know and how we can use this knowledge to ease our suffering in a practical way.

I like to talk about an individual’s MAP — mastery, autonomy and purpose. We use new knowledge, skills and practices to master ourselves, our thinking and actions, by deciding autonomously what we want in our lives. Following certain principles, we can implement and integrate daily rituals to build momentum towards our picture of success. Re-establishing the purpose(s) in our life gives us a reason and a motivating force to practice as we must if we want change. This is the basic model of success that I present in the workshop, offering a choice to each person who comes along to the workshop. A choice to create a better life.

The purpose of UP is to bring what we know about pain and suffering to society. But of course that is not enough. We must then go about alleviating pain and suffering. UP then has a two-pronged approach to both inform and then encourage positive change. I believe that we can build momentum through stories that we gather. Stories of how people have achieved success.

The workshop is based upon the Pain Coach Programme. This is a programme that seeks to educate, enable and encourage individuals to reach their potential to live their life. Why coaching? Simply because coaching is all about getting the best out of people. Based upon the latest thinking in pain, human performance, consciousness, perception, wellness, and other fields that are contributing to our understanding of being human, the Pain Coach Programme offers a way forward.

For more information about UP workshops, please contact us +447518445493 or click here