Started running?

Recent encouragement to get outside and exercise each day means more people are out walking and running. Hopefully we are all thinking about keeping our distance and going out alone or with a family member only. If you have started running or re-started after a hiatus, you may want to think about how you can gradually ease into it.

Amongst the headlines we are seeing a number of positive stories. These are fuel for hope and keep us going towards a better time, which will come. One of the positive messages from the outset has been the encouragement to take exercise — the benefits are well known (examples below).

  • Joint and muscle health
  • Better decision making
  • Clearer thinking
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Improved mobility
  • Fitness
  • Better sleep
  • Cardiovascular heath
  • Protective against a number of conditions
  • Weight control

Being active takes many forms. Two of the most simple are walking and running. We can do this in the house, in the garden, up an down the stairs and around where we live. We can also choose simple exercises using body weight or household items.

Started or starting running?

If you are starting from scratch, you may be best to begin by walking quickly to allow your body and body systems to adapt. There maybe a few aches and pains, which is a typical response to new or different activity.

Casual runners maybe tempted to increase the frequency or the intensity of runs. I’ve seen quite a few people chugging along, panting, puffing and blowing. The 80/20 training rule is a good one to follow — 80% low intensity when you should be able to speak, and 20% high intensity. If you are unsure about how much to push because of known medical conditions or you do not feel confident with what you want to do, you should always take advise from a professional.

Before heading out, easing the body into action with some simple, low strain movements prepare you. Examples include walking on your toes, lunges, squats, and pelvic movements. On return, recovery can include eating and drinking to rehydrate and refuel, together with easy stretches. Much has been written on recovery, but studies have not revealed any particular methods that are musts beyond taking the time to get back to baseline.

There are a number of apps and online resources that give advice on gradually building up your running. A good place to start your reading is Runner’s World.

Enjoy your running and being active

At a time when we are compelled to create a new routine, figuring in movement and exercise will be of great benefit to the way you feel and deal with the situation. Yet we need to be sensible. Gradually building our activity levels to reduce the risk of injury and allowing our bodies to adapt. One of the most important points is that we need to enjoy what we are doing! This way, we will keep it going and build our level of fitness and wellness.

If you have a question, get in touch for an informal chat


Snowdonia ultra

Next UP for #upandrun is the Snowdonia Maverick ultra

On Saturday I’ll take on my first mountain ultra. 64k of trails around Snowdonia.

The main challenge for me will be heights. I ain’t got a head for them. Running along Beachy Head and around the Isle of Wight we stepped quite close to the cliff edge. I get edgy. I’ve been assured that it is ok, nothing to worry about.

The other consideration are the cut off times along the way and the need to complete by 7pm. We start at 8. That sounds ok, but there is the small detail of the 3000m elevation.

My kit is prepared, lodgings are booked for Friday night and now it is an easy week to build energy. The weather looks agreeable but we still have to carry waterproofs with taped seams, a foil blanket and a head torch (with ‘spare batteries’). Things can change quickly on a mountain. I remember a stroll up Pen y Fan last February that started with light drizzle and a mild breeze. By the time we were at the top, you could only see about five metres beyond your hand.


Behind the scenes we are having a shuffle around to build momentum. Jo will be taking the lead for the day to day running of Understand Pain (UP), promoting and managing the UP workshops so we can reach more people, running the social media campaign to share the right messages about pain and connecting with partners who want to support our work.

The UP workshops are monthly at the moment. We are looking at running these every two weeks and then weekly in different locations as a next step alongside an online programme.

If you would like to support our work, you can sponsor an event and a workshop (see here) or you can give a donation (see here).

Today I am heading south to spend time in a unit that is doing great work with children. Statistics suggest that 20% of our children are suffering chronic pain. I see a number of kids who are in this situation with their families. Often they do not know what to do, have no understanding of pain and certainly have no ideas about how to move forward. This is where we can step in and help to make a difference. More on this soon.


The night before an ultra

The traditional meal…

…or so it has become the night before an ultra. Spaghetti Bolognese, full fat Coke and ice-cream.

This was supposed to be a simple train ride to Eastbourne. But, somehow I ended up on the wrong part of the train and arrived in Hove. Back to Brighton I went in hope of catching the next train to Eastbourne.

How would I get my spag bog? I’ll pause in Brighton and find an Italian. What a find! Pinocchio’s just off the North Laines was vibrant and smelt good. The waiter said he could deliver my meal pronto and so he did — see above. Then came the massive white chocolate ice-cream studded with white buttons and honeycomb; great!

The night train

Now off to Eastbourne at last. It will be bed by midnight, but I don’t sleep well before a race anyway. I usually wake every hour or so, thinking it is time to get up before realising that it is not, and try to go back to sleep. The pattern repeats.

Essential kit

I travel light. Wearing the shoes, ‘my ride’, I pack the essentials only for running. A vest, bottles, first aid pack, spare socks, a second layer, head torch, belt, headphones, cap, buff, sweat band, credit card, charging pack.

The South Coast Challenge tomorrow will be the third 100k run in three months. You start to know what to expect. Times to push and times to hold back become more apparent. Rest stops are planned more closely, and on this particular course, they appear every 10-15k. This may not sound too far. It’s the terrain that has the impact. Tougher terrain can mean it takes 10 minutes to complete 1k, or longer sometimes.

I learned on Race To The Stones that a little lunch (pasta) worked well, together with a foot inspection and change of socks (sweat = damp socks = blister risk). Slipping into a fresh pair has served me well on both the prior 100s.

Visualisation, breathing and meditation are all part of the routine the night before and on the morning. Creating calm and clarity, rehearsing mantras and tools for the inevitable tough moments means being prepared. It’s not a case of will it hurt, but when. I call these the sticky bits. This is the time to keep the feet moving. Plodding along. The ultra shuffle some call it.

Several days before I always experience some interesting bodily sensations. My right foot always hurts, together with my ankle and often the right leg as a whole. Throbbing, tightness, pulling, and a touch of strain all call out like individual voices, a choir perhaps. It’s a little reminder of past sensitivities and that something vigorous is coming up.

An ultra is like life. There’s a beginning and an end, with a sequence of things happening in between. Things always happen. It’s the response that is key in making it what it is for me. How do I respond automatically due to learning, social conditioning and genetics? And how do I choose to respond to those responses? Again, it’s not a matter of if life will have tougher, challenging moments, but when? I need to be prepared, to use those moments to learn and move on. How can I best deal with it? How can I get back on track quickly?

Next stop Eastbourne. Follow my progress tomorrow if you like: #upandrun on Twitter (@painphysio) and Instagram (@paincoach).


#12in12 First section of North Downs Way

August #upandrun ultra ~ First 50k of North Downs Way

This month’s #upandrun ultra for Understand Pain was Farnham to Betchworth, amounting to 50.9k with an additional loop through a cornfield. For the vast majority of the route I barely saw another person, one of the beauties of a solo run.

Solo runs

These are independent runs when you choose a route, pack your supplies in a backpack and head off alone. In theory there is no support along the way as you decide when to stop and take a break and carry your own food and water.

The prior solo along the Thames Path from Hampton Court to the Thames Barrier offered a number of stopping points: cafes and shops. This time there was a sparsity that added an interesting element. Whilst the elevation was just under 1000m, so pretty steep in places, it is not an overly challenging route. However, it is very scenic along water courses, across fields, along trails and through wooded areas.

I happened upon two pubs. The first was notable, accommodating my seemingly strange request for a banana together with a pint of coke, a pint of water, a pack of salt and vinegar crisps and a double espresso. Steve and Laura at Ye Old Ship Inn just outside Guildford were most helpful. The second was just overpriced using ‘sugar tax’ as an excuse.

The North Downs Way in pictures

#upandrun routes so far…

May ~ Isle of Wight Challenge

June ~ London to Brighton

June ~ Hampton Court to the Thames Barrier

July ~ Race To The Stones

August ~ North Downs Way: Farnham to Betchworth

September and onwards ~ TBC


The first #12in12 will take me round to May 2020. However, my plan is to keep going until the Ring O’ Fire in August 2020. And then…..who knows! There’s always another level with ultras, and I am just at the start.

The next run should see me sporting a new outfit having teamed up with a cool running brand. They are also responsible for the funky kit worn by a well known and recognisable ultrarunner in the US. More on this later.

And the reason

To raise the awareness of the global problem of pain — the No1 global health burden. But that’s not it. #upandrun is also about helping people understand their pain and learning ways that they can improve their lives with practical skills and tools. This is via the UP workshops that are running each month in New Malden, Surrey; next one on Wednesday 18th September (tickets available soon). But that’s not it either….

This must build and grow. The workshops must expand and become available far and wide. To do this we must scale the projects and build. This is the work going on behind the scenes at the moment.

If you are interested in sponsoring or supporting, please get in touch:


Here’s what’s next for #upandrun

Last few steps of RTTS 2019

12 in 12 for #upandrun

Having completed 4 ultras since the start of May this year, the plan is to do #upandrun 12 in 12. That’s 12 ultras in 12 months, or one a month. Some will be races and some will be solos. This could well climate in the Ring O’ Fire, which I am eyeing up and feature Richmond to Oxford along the Thames Path. The latter is 100 miles.

You will be able to sponsor me for this on-going challenge, so look out for the information on that coming very soon.

Don’t forget the UP workshops, next on on Aug 7th at The Groves Medical Centre. You must get tickets, which are free although you can make a donation so that we can build this essential project. Click here

Keep sharing so that we can build the story!


Understand Pain Workshops: what are they about?

Understand your pain and learn practical ways to improve your life

The UP workshops are now a regular fixture at The Groves Medical Centre, New Malden. Each month I hold a session for people who are suffering persistent pain for any reason.

We clarify pain: what it is? Why it can persist? And how it can change. This is from both a scientific and an experiential viewpoint, enriched by the narratives of the participants. This is of course, your session.

Interwoven into the session are practices and tools that you learn. We do this together. The idea is that you take these away as a way to begin changing the outcomes. Typically people come alone because they are motivated to want their life to look differently, better. And this is what the focus is upon, improving lives.

Do you suffer chronic pain and are you motivated to coach yourself to a better life?

The groups are small and interactive. You will be invited to share your insights and experiences. It is of course up to you whether you decide to share or not. However, this is the real material, the important narrative that in the true reflection of what you have been enduring. But as I said, the primary focus is upon what you want to achieve and the steps to start taking to get there. This is the Pain Coach approach that I use 1:1 with people who come to see me for persistent and complex pain problems.

What next?

Visit the Understand Pain Workshop page here and check for the next date. Click the link for your ticket. The workshops are free but we welcome donations to keep the project going.

Last 10k!

Global workshops & #upandrun

The vision is to reach across the globe and deliver this practical knowledge to people in need. One way will be via online videos that we are working upon, and another is teaching local clinicians. Both are on the agenda. The Pain Coach Programme can be scaled and it can be delivered by any clinician who understands pain. This makes the vision entirely achievable.

At the moment we are building the foundations, but to take it to the level that is needed will require funding. So we seek sponsors and partners who share both the vision and the desire to make a difference.

The #upandrun project is the combo of ultrarunning and the UP workshops. The purpose of the runs are to raise awareness and the the workshops to raise the knowledge and skill level.

If you want to get involved and help us build we would love to hear from you. You can start by emailing me:

If you would like to organise an Understand Pain Workshop at your practice, do get in touch.

Chronic pain is deeply embedded within our society. This is where the suffering happens and where the change can occur. It starts with understanding and then choosing the right actions off the back of this knowledge. We can do this together.


#upandrun 4 ultras in 3 month

Race To The Stones 2019

#upandrun 2019

This time last week I was well underway from the middle of nowhere south east of Oxford on my way to the middle of nowhere near Swindon. It was Race To The Stones (RTTS) and the final of the planned ultra runs for #upandrun. As my old friend and now UP Ambassador Chris Peskett pointed out, it was also the first that I ran ‘seriously’.

It can take a while to get to ‘serious’. And that’s my experience, as of course others will get stuck in seriously from the outset. There were a good few runners who took on the ultra for the first time and posted impressive times. Hats off.

It began in May with the Isle of Wight Challenge 106k that I ran over two days. Having got rather excited and then hit the lows afterwards, I quickly booked up London to Brighton. This time it was 100k in one go. These were my preparation for RTTS. After London to Brighton I decided to do a solo and ran from home to Hampton Court, before following the Thames Path to the Thames Barrier. That was 62k. Finally, RTTS last Saturday, coming home just before 10pm and soon having a beer….

On The Ridgeway

What’s next?

It’s an exciting time as UP now has two Ambassadors running to raise awareness of our work and plans for the future. Much is going on behind the scenes.

I am truly grateful that I have been able to incorporate the passion for running with my purpose. The running community is wide and global so I hope to build the UP story within this world as a means to reach beyond to all corners of society, helping those most in need: the people suffering.

The runs are a firm fixture. I will be planning the next organised races but also doing a number of solos. As ever the hashtag #upandrun will be the one to follow. The kit is coming together with #upandrun T-shirts and trucker hats for casual wear together with the running attire. We continue to seek sponsors, which would be running brands and businesses that share the vision and the purpose to improve the world by reducing suffering — do get in touch if you want to discuss sponsorship.

UP trucker

The next UP workshop is on August 7th at The Groves Medical Centre — go to this page for the link. Of course this benefits local people and those who can get there, but soon enough the material will be accessible for all via the website.

Please share and help us build. This is about a better society for all, and its only together that we can do this, and we can!

On we go.


Chris Peskett: #upandrun UP Ambassador

Chris Peskett aka ‘Peck’

Introducing UP’s first ambassador

Chris aka ‘Peck’ is a very old friend. Old in that we have known each other since 7 yrs, not that he is old. We navigated our formative years together through two schools and came out the other side. I recall Peck being a runner from an early age, including if I am not mistaken, running home after nights out… .

Moving on.

#upandrun is a project from Understand Pain (UP) that blends running with UP workshops. The running is a way of raising awareness of the No1 global health burden that is chronic pain. The UP workshops deliver practical knowledge and skills to people suffering chronic pain so that they can understand and move on to live fulfilling lives. The vision is to reach as far as we can across the globe. And it all started with a few simple steps… . This includes online versions of the workshops that I am working on at the moment.

Here are some questions I asked Peck:

1. Why do you run? 

Because I cant stop, but before that it was because I enjoy being fitter / faster / stronger than I used to be. Not that I’m worried about getting old but I do enjoy the feeling of improvement.

2. What got you into running? 

I’d always played sport and the list of sports you can play at 45 is not that extensive!

3. How long have you been running? 

5 years. 3 years “seriously”

4. Where has been your favourite run? 

Monte Amoro in Abruzzo mountains, Italy.

5. What do you do for a day job? 

I own a Property Business ~ Apparent Properties

6. What’s the worst thing that has happened whilst you’ve been out running? 

One or two disasters involving lack of toilets

7. What is your favourite piece of kit? 

My Fenix 5

8. What strategies do you use for the tough, painful moments out on a run?  

There are no strategies.

9. Who inspires you to run? 

A couple of the local boys at Barnes Runners.

10. If it was proven that running was really bad for you, would you stop? 

I doubt it.

Bonus: why did you agree to be an UP ambassador? 

Because I don’t shout about running 100 miles  I thought I might as well use it to get some attention for a worthy cause.

Peck, Wilson & Stace on a run

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:

On we go.