Next UP is Race To The Stones (RTTS)

Race To The Stones route

Next Saturday, I will be on my way, running from The Chilterns, across the North Wessex Downs to Avebury along an ancient path. Race To The Stones is a 100k ultramarathon, and the next in line for #upandrun: the project that combines running with workshops to raise awareness and improve lives.

You can follow my progress on the day with the hashtag #upandrun on both Twitter @painphysio and Instagram @paincoach & @upandlivewell. One of the UP ambassadors, Chris P, is also running next weekend, taking on the Beacons Way Ultra 100. I hope to posting pictures of his progress as well as we track each other.

Running up The Pentland Hills, nr Edinburgh

Look out for the next UP workshop date — an interactive session for people suffering chronic and persistent pain. Come and understand your pain and learn practices, tools and an approach to move on and improve your life.

If you would like to organise an UP workshop near you, please get in touch: richmond@specialistpainphysio.com

On we go.

RS

My ankle sprain at 40k

The next morning

Pain and injury are not the same or well-related

Despite piles of research and narratives that have taught us pain and injury are not the same or well-related, this remains the predominant belief in society. It is a belief that informs both self-management and more seriously, professional healthcare management: the search for a structure, injury or pathology to explain pain.

Whilst we must determine the existence of an injury or pathology that may require intervention, this is only ever a part of the story. The lived experience must be the primary focus. The ‘what it is like’ is a unification of thoughts, feelings, perceptions and actions. Bringing these two together is essential, whilst giving the person a clear picture of what is happening. It is complex because we are complex. There’s no need to dumb it down.

It is the person who feels pain, not the body ‘part’

On the London to Brighton ultra a few weeks back, we had criss-crossed the urban areas and reached the countryside. With very little of interest along the Surrey roads, conversation kept you going. There were some very mild slopes but nothing that would be considered ‘technical’. So the foot fall is easy, requiring little or no thought as you trot along establishing a rhythm.

Then you hit the uneven terrain that requires more focus, paying attention to what is coming, adapting to the loose stones, divets, slopes, small mounds hidden by long grass, tree roots and other small obstacles. Duck! That was a low hanging branch, more difficult to clock because it’s a bit darker on the trail in the woods.

Crossing a section of a field that was sun-baked mud with a good covering of grass, my right foot hit the edge of concealed tractor tyre track, woah…! My ankle rolled in and I over the top, but I managed to steady myself and continue. ‘You ok?’, called my running buddy of that section who was just behind. ‘Yep..no problem’, I lobbed back. We carried on. That was about 40k into the 100k day (it ended up around 104k…runner’s were sure the course was longer than it was marked).

We reached the halfway point. Hot food was available and I saw fellow runners tucking into burgers and chips. Food held no appeal, so I forced down some chocolate and fruit together with plenty of fluids. With the second half to go, my feet deserved a check and a change of socks. Inevitably feet sweat and swell, both a risk for blisters. There’s always a little hesitation before removing socks: what will my feet be like?

Remember that what we feel (perceive) and what is going on in the tissues is often different — they are not the same. My state, biological and emotional (that are unified), means that it is entirely possible to experience no unpleasant sensations in my feet, yet I have a reddened area developing or even a formed blister. Checking your feet becomes an essential strategy. A little bit of TLC here and there and all was fine to get going: a couple of preventative Compeeds, a bit of a rub and a stretch.

70-80k was tough. Over half-way, but still 30k to go, including a climb over the Downs. This is a big part of the ‘why?’. At one point I was struggling to get past two other runners who were traveling at barely a walking pace. This is the time to use those mental (embodied) strategies to keep going. You know these moments are going to come; not if but when. I call the my ‘sticky bits’. I also know that they will pass if I keep going.

It was also this time that my right foot started to hurt. The front of my ankle was stinging, accompanied by a sharp pain down the side of the foot. I have a weird little toe on the right that sits up meaning that I use the foot differently to the left. I land and push off more medially. So be it. That’s the way I’m built so there’s no point making a big deal of it, despite what my mind seems to want to say.

There are many things that lift you. People supporting at random places. Some pop up all the way along the route so you get to know them even though they are there to support someone else. Other runners that you come across and then plod along with for a few hours. When else would you meet someone you don’t know and spend hours chatting? The aid stations are GREAT. Usually full of encouragers and definitely packed with treats. Many have said that ultras are eating competitions. I wouldn’t disagree. The normal diet that nourishes goes out of the window as you consume all the naughty stuff that you can get ahold of! Melon has a special place in my heart in these moments. Music and purpose are two further tools that spur me on.

The pain was not abating and if anything was trying to grab more and more of my attention. It didn’t occur to me that maybe I had sprained my ankle until much nearer the end of course. Even then I didn’t give that thought much credence. In essence, it would not be useful to consider this as a possibility. What use would that be? In particular as there was no way I was going to stop anyway.

I love the burst of excitement, energy and emotion that emerges right near the end as the finish line appears. The last few kilometres at dusk, following a looping path towards the Brighton Racecourse, were a push. I wanted to end with a burst so decided to walk a few hundred metres to gather myself. A couple of runners went by and I saw another shadow in the distance behind. There was no way I was going to let him or her pass! I started running again towards the lights in the distance, Brighton below the hills beckoning.

Hitting the longer grass of the racecourse was an unwelcome surprise. Heavy ground and the need to lift my feet meant that I had to bend my knees and flex my hips, neither of which my body was keen to do. But as often happens, there is an easing as you relax into the job in hand, and that is to finish at speed. How often do you see that at the end of a race? The explosion of energy as if some superhuman force has taken over the runner, powering them to glory!

My power burst came, fuel injected with a mantra I can scarcely remembered as I stormed past the two runners who had overtaken me a kilometre or so before. They waved me on, cheering, as is what happens at these events. Everyone supports each other, on a day of sharing an incredibly tough experience, in a way that I have not seen in any other walk of life. It’s a unique camaraderie.

Suddenly it’s over. The last few steps under the inflated finish archway, applauded by the race officials, finishers and other people milling around the end. You know who has run because there’s a style of walking that looks like you’ve…. (you get the picture).

Sleep after a long run for me is an interesting business. Vivid dreams, lots of movement and half waking. The inevitable leg stiffness meant walking to the shower room, all of two meters away, was a challenge. It looked so far away. Ooh, what’s that? I thought as I stepped with my right foot. I looked down and saw the bruising and swelling you can see in the picture at the top of this blog. Indeed I had sprained my ankle. But the pain experience, which is always subjective and uniquely mine, had varied so much since the tractor track incident.

As I looked and wiggled my foot it started to hurt more. Paying more attention to the sensations and what I could see, the discomfort intensified, as it typically does. Of course, when I injure myself it is meant to hurt as a means of helping me protect myself to allow healing to proceed. This is biology in action, and it is going on in the dark. I have no access to this, only what I can feel and see. From there I make assumptions about what has happened and what I must do now for the best. This is all based on my belief that I can get better because I have done before, and there’s no reason to think anything else. Each person will have their own set of beliefs, past experiences and expectations.

Pain and injury are not the same. Pain is subjective — I, the whole person, feel the pain. Injury is objective. They are different and do not relate well. The circumstance, past experience and expectations all play a role, which is why I injured my ankle at 40k and did not really know until the next morning. Pain was and is not a good guide. It just tells me that there is a need to be met as an inference for what maybe happening, yet still compelling action even in the case of no or a minor injury. We are wise to acknowledge and assess, which is why understanding pain is so important. We can then choose the next best action.

RS

Suffering chronic, persistent or complex pain? Look out for the next UP talk and workshop >> https://understandpain.com/up-workshops/

#upandrun ambassadors

26th June 2019 NEWS

UP has two ambassadors joining #upandrun

As the UP story gathers momentum, in particular the #upandrun project (ultrarunning, marathon running and the UP education programme), we are delighted to welcome two new UP ambassadors: Chris and Jeff. Both will be running for #upandrun so keep an eye out for blogs, pictures and always the hashtag!

If you see #upandrun hashtag, give us a shout out! Take a pic and post it on Twitter or Instagram.

Chronic pain affects so many people for so many reasons. The measure of our success will be how many people we can inspire to move on to live their best lives.

This week look out for…

Richmond running along the Thames Path tomorrow (Thursday) from Hampton Court to the Thames Barrier

Next week look out for…

The UP talk and workshop on Weds 3rd July at 2pm at The Groves Medical Centre. Get your place here >> tickets

On we go!

Further ultramarathon tips

Further ultramarathon tips…

Having chatted to my old pal who is a far more experienced runner than I, here are some of the things we spoke about.

Eat before you get hungry

Otherwise it’s too late. Most ultras have rest stops packed with food and drink choices. Early on you may not feel hungry, but eat anyway to stock up for later on when you need the energy.

Pursu nutrition

What should I eat? Listen to your body

This is one day when you don’t have to worry about what you are eating (if you do normally). So when you are faced with a table of fruit, sweets, flapjacks, cookies, sandwiches, pizza, pasta, and the rest, what grabs you? Go for it!

Pic N Mix table on the IOW Challenge

Don’t stop for too long

Making a judgement about stopping at the rest stations means considering what fuel and drink you need, stretches that help nourish areas working hard and repetitively and not resting too long. The last point is important because if you are like me, I stiffen fairly quickly meaning it is hard to get going again.

There’s no definite approach, so you must find your own. In that sense, each run is a voyage of discovery! And no run is ever the same so we can only draw loose conclusions anyway.

If you are running and someone walks past, start walking

Sometimes it feels like we are moving along nicely but our perception is different from reality. In particular, on your way up a hill, if others are walking at the same pace or quicker than your run or jog, then save energy and join them.


May 25th London to Brighton 100k ultrachallenge

Tomorrow I will be running from Richmond to Brighton for UP as part of the #upandrun 2019 series for Understand Pain. This week I held an UP workshop at The Groves Medical Centre for people who want to understand pain and know how to move onto live a fulfilling life. There will be future workshops that will be publicised on the website and social media.

Sponsorship and partnering opportunities

We are seeking sponsors and partners for #upandrun to share in the story of improving lives and society. If you are interested, please get in touch: richmond@specialistpainphysio.com

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