upandrun 13 Table Mountain

upandrun understand pain
upandrun 13

At the end of the Adcock Ingram roadshow in South Africa, I tackled Table Mountain for upandrun 13. It was awesome, but much tougher than I expected.

In another time, when we were able to travel, I was in South Africa. It was March 2020.

I had been invited to give a series of talks on the Adcock Ingram roadshow to launch their Sports Science and Rehabilitation division. My host was TensCare CEO Neil Wright.

TensCare logo
Thanks to TensCare for sponsoring upandrun 13

visit TensCare Pain Relief and Therapies for a range of devices for pain, maternity care, continence issues, pelvic floor and muscle stimulation

We started the tour in Johannesburg, then on to Durban and finally to Cape Town. It was a whirlwind. Each event drew local physiotherapists, kinesiologists and other healthcare professionals together for a burst of education, socialising and presentation of the product range.

The organisers and sales teams created a positive vibe, which made the delivery of the pain talks a pleasure. I also had the opportunity to gain an insight into the pain problems that exist in South Africa by talking to the therapists.

Richmond and Nick the speakers
Richmond and Nick selfie

We can be optimistic. Our knowledge of pain is expanding at a fast rate directly via pain science but largely from related fields. This was a message I tried to get across.

Therapists can choose to see people’s potential and strengths. Through this lens, the possibilities open up and we can help and encourage patients to shape their own positive futures.

The three days of talks in three cities was energising. It did not prepare me for a mountain though. Or the heat.

For the first 10k I was guided up to Lion’s Head by Nicola from Energy in Abundance. We set off on the trail chatting about life, running and philosophy. The photos tell the story.

Sunrise

View from Lion's Head

Lion's Head

Nicola hooked me up with South African ultrarunner Linda Doke for the Table Mountain part of the adventure. Incidentally, Nicola made all the arrangements by email beforehand so I just had to turn up. I would recommend this if you are a runner wanting to explore the area. You’ll be taken safely on the best routes and experience the awesome views.

We set off along the bottom of the mountain to reach the point of ascent. Apparently the weather was to be the best of the season today. It was. The flip side was the heat, which I was not prepared for having come from the English winter. This together with the steep climb took some effort. The reward was the magnificent view and a tin of coke. I love coke on long hot runs. And coffee.

Mountain view
Crossing Table Mountain

Leaving the cable station and heading off along the stony trail, we also left contact with humanity except for a few lone souls we met. Three in total over the coming hours. It was a rugged and jagged terrain, yet covered with green resilient flora. We stopped to look at some of the plants that thrive on the mountain top.

Flora on Table Mountain

There was little shelter from the sun. We knew the temperature would be rising so I had plenty of water on board. Of course this warmed up against my body.

When Linda mentioned stopping at the dam for a dip, I couldn’t wait to get my feet in and refresh. What a moment it was, to step into the reddish water, tanned by the fynbos plants beneath the surface.

The five dams are entwined in the history of Cape Town. They feel remote, sitting above in stillness like a meditating hermit. Some say that they have been forgotten (read here). A small dedicated museum at northern end of the Hely-Hutchinson Reservoir houses the original steam train. It was closed and did not look like it would open any time soon.

blue water
Hely-Hutchinson Reservoir

Recharged, dripping and grateful for the simplicity of fresh, cold water, on we went. To the right appeared the sea. As the reservoir had, it looked so tempting. There was the feeling that I could dive off the mountain into the blue. Later and warming up, I thought of icy drinks on the beach that I could see. The sounds from the people on the sand wafted up on the wind, yet we were a long way from any form of significant rest. Linda kept me going. Plodding along. The initial climb had taken a lot out of me.

The sea

We made a descent down a gorge towards Hout Bay and Llandudno. We chatted about the latter and how it bears no resemblance to the North Wales version. Both have their charms.

This was a bit of a scramble over loose scree before reaching a more defined path around the peak we were navigating. I had to navigate a few tricky points, expertly advised and encouraged by Linda. To many they would be easily traversed, but with a fear of heights I had some extra sweat to manage.

I realised that I had taken something from the Snowden experience in September. Looking back now, I know that these experiences have pushed the balance towards a greater confidence.

There is much to love about mountains: their strength, enormity, resilience, their danger and unpredictable bedfellow in the weather to name a few. I continue to be attracted to the challenge of ultra trails in mountainous regions. The mystery they offer and the contrast to my local running spots draw me in.

The final push up a long jeep track to us to the edge of the park. Across from the parking lot was a smart looking restaurant and bar. Linda assured me they would serve a smelly, dusty runner, and they did. I sat outside amongst the casually dressed Cape Town diners, mostly families, and enjoyed a pint of icy coca-cola reflecting on a tremendous day of trails.

Big thanks to Nicola for organising the tour and to Linda for guiding me and running at the slowest pace that she has had to endure for a long time!

Contact Nicola here for information about guided runs around Cape Town

Read about Linda’s running here. She also coaches runners.

upandrun 14 ~ round the block for the NHS

Richmond at 80k

On Monday I ran 100k around the block to raise money for the NHS staff at Kingston Hospital.

I dedicated the April upandrun ultra to raising money to support the staff at Kingston Hospital through the hospital charity. To date we have raised £3215 thanks to all the generous donations.

you can donate here

Considering the need for social distancing, I chose a 5k circuit that I could run twenty times. For variety, I changed direction with each lap.

5k x 20 laps

It was still dark when I set off at 5:08am. I love this time of day. It was so quiet, the sky is just starting to lighten and there were just a few people on their way to work or out walking their dogs. Soon enough the first kilometre was indicated by the familiar sound from my watch. 99 to go. I set my mind to the task, resigned to the fact that there were twelve or thirteen hours to go. There is always some comfort in that.

The day was perfect: a warm sun and a cool breeze. There was no need to carry anything as I could simply grab fuel and drinks on each lap, and even stop for lunch at home. My wife prepared a delicious bowl of plain pasta.

Each time I ran down my street, someone would cheer and clap, shouting out words of encouragement. This gave me energy. There was a purpose behind this run, as there is with each upandrun. Usually I am running to raise awareness of the problem of pain, but this time I was using my legs to show support for the NHS heroes.

No matter what discomfort I was experiencing, I knew that it would ease and that I would be in the bath at the end of the day. However, for our NHS and other essential workers (carers, teachers, delivery people, personnel running the public transport, supermarket staff and more), this goes on for now. The run was about them and showing appreciation for what they are doing to positively contribute to our society.

And so the day proceeded: round and round, legs heavier, strides shorter, but onwards I went. The toughest period was 60 to 80k. I had covered a good distance, but there was still a long way to go.

At 1245 I was interviewed on BBC Radio Surrey by Sarah Gorrell. This was a chance to tell listeners about the run and the cause. It was also a break in the monotony.

A friend who runs jokingly called this the Kingston Hospital Self-Transcendence race after the Sri Chinmoy 3100 that takes place in New York. Runners complete a 3100 mile course around a single block in New York. There is a film about it now: Run and Become. This was my version. A much shorter version.

My sense of time was distorted. I find that this always happens on an ultramarathon. I lose track of time, which is wonderful. I simply focus on the next step. The day begins to blur and soon enough, the end is near.

The final lap approached. For some reason, I was a few hundred metres short and had to take the lower road to loop round and make the 100k total. The neighbours were waiting, and as soon as they saw me coming the cheering and clapping began. It was a super way to end the day.

On we go.

upandrun
Richmond

RS

 

#upandrun 12: Gloucester to Bath review

Hoka Speedgoats
It was a bit muddy

#upandrun 12 route from Gloucester to Bath, taking in the Cotswold Way

I started running along the road towards Birdlip to pick up the Cotswold Way. It was just after 530am, the streets were quiet and I was on my way. The streetlights came to an end as I reached the edge of town and began to climb.

In the darkness with my head-torch illuminated, I could see on-coming cars in the distance and I hoped they could see me. Running along close to the narrow grassy verge, I continually created an escape plan in case I needed to take evasive action. That plan, which fortunately I did not have to use, was simply to dive into the bush. I thought it through what seemed to be every few seconds.

The sun was just starting to rise as Cotswold Way signs appeared, the trail bisecting the road. I turned right onto the path that immediately started winding its way down into the woods. It was soft underfoot, with occasional muddy patches, but perfectly passable and even supporting a steady running pace.

Running a trail is the perfect time to be present. The ever-changing pink sky delivered a backdrop for the unfolding scenery as I trotted along. Noticing the changes in light is something unique to being in the countryside, almost moment by moment. It is easy to miss, especially in a town or city.

It felt like it was going to be a good day. I had a plan for fuelling, learning from previous ultras that it is important for me to keep it regular, so a snack every 10k. I was loaded with bars, Kendall mint cake and other snacks, plus I was confident that I would come across a cosy cafe serving great coffee and offering respite. That didn’t appear for quite some hours though…

Mud, bogs, rain, wind

The trail was starting to become muddy, slippery and skiddy. My Speedgoats were helping me stay upright, although I had to slow my pace to navigate these patches. Over the day, I only fell once, imprinting a sizeable brown mark on my left buttock.

Losing the trail in a small Cotswold village, an elderly couple pointed me in the right direction, warning that the field I was about to cross was steep and very wet. It was. That was the end of having dry feet for some hours.

Rain was forecast, so I was not surprised when I noticed a few drops on my face. Playing it safe, I donned my waterproof. That, was a wise decision. Within moments the rain was coming at me sideways. On off went the showers for the rest of the day, mainly on from what I recall. The wind whipped around me, especially on the exposed hills, resulting in a crouching style of running that probably did nothing except make my thighs work harder. Note to self.

It was not the water from the sky that was slowing me down though. It was underfoot. I was fortunate not to lose a shoe as I squelched my way through and round fields that were utterly waterlogged. The animals I passed looked at me and wondered what I was doing. This was the sense of their expressions anyway.

How grateful I was when a farmer gave me directions along a lane rather than over his field, which did not look like a field. It was more like the top of a moist chocolate cake.

On I went.

From http://www.cotswoldrunning.co.uk/cotswold-way-century

The Cotswolds Way is far steeper than I had anticipated. Mind you, I do like climbing a hill. There is great satisfaction on reaching the summit and looking back to see where you have stepped and taking in the scenery. King of the hill.

There are moments along the way when you ask yourself why? Pain, cold, wet, miserable weather are all reasons to stop. They are also reasons to go on exploring and discovering. That’s the beauty of ultra. Rolling with the ups and downs, the successes and challenges, one foot after the next. There is no stopping the stream of conscious experience that continually delivers the plethora of unplanned feelings, thoughts, sensations, sounds and other appearances. Noticing this is being mindful.

And so, after about 13 hours, Bath arrived out of the darkness in the distance. The last kilometers followed alongside the A46. The sun had long gone, replaced by a blackness pierced by red and white car lights. Back into urbanity, running along the city streets towards the pizza and beer that had so clearly formed in my mind.

#upandrun 12 finish

The day ended at 90k. I am looking at when I can move this on to a 100-miler, the next natural step. My feeling is that a supported run would be best, but we will see. The next #upandrun will be in South Africa where I am heading in a week’s time to give a series of pain talks — read here. The plan is to take in Table Mountain within an ultra of around 50k.

On we go.

RS

#upandrun 12: The Cotswold Way

Map of the Cotswold The Cotswold Way

#upandrun 12: The Cotswold Way

It’s probably going to be a soggy #upandrun on tomorrow when I trot from Cheltenham to Bath along the Cotswold Way. The weather has hit the UK over the weekend, another sure sign of climate change and reason to look after our planet and ourselves — the two entwined.

#upandrun 12 is an unsupported, or solo run. Whilst I do enjoy the excitement of an event, there is something about doing it alone. Not seeing another person for miles or hours and simply connecting with nature has special qualities. For company you have the trail, the fields, the trees, animals, birds, sounds of the wind and silence.

Our experience of nature is embodied of course, so no matter what we perceive ‘out there’, the inner world informs what that is like. Running for long periods of time means inevitable connecting with the self, one’s body and how they are unified. Each step, each twinge, each ache and each pain tell a story. Your story.

Challenging moments arise. On a solo, there’s no-one there to encourage, no aid station and no medal at the end. There’s a purity to this; what’s the motivator? A purpose. Undoubtedly, having a strong sense of purpose is fuel. The ‘why’. So why?

My shared purpose with UP is simply to help people improve their lives, in particular those suffering chronic pain. And why? Because I believe that we can truly help others transform their lives and move on. This belief has strengthened over the years. We are designed to do better than just survive, which is what many people are doing day to day; surviving their lives.

Packing ~ no number, no medal

Then there is the ‘why’ of running…

Recently I was considering the practice of curiosity, and it dawned on me that this is the reason I run. I am curious about what is over the next hill, how the day unfolds, the scene in front of me and how it emerges in my awareness and passes. I am curious about how far I can go and what it will feel like; the unknown.

Tapping into the natural explorer, these ultra-runs quench that thirst. We are born explorers, learning about the world and ourselves with every movement and experience from the outset. Picture a baby starting to move, crawl and then walk, building a lived experience of the world. We create that world by acting upon it, predicting what comes next based on what came before. Touching nature by stepping on the trail, I a perceiving that very trail by the act of running.

#upandrun is made complete by workshops and spending time coaching and encouraging people to reach their potential and achieve the results that they desire. The current project focuses upon people suffering pain from osteoarthritis. There are more free places available, so please share or do get in touch to sign up for your place (see the link below).

UP OA Pain Coaching Project

 

What next?

You can see me on the trail tomorrow by following on Twitter @painphysio and Instagram @paincoach and FB Specialist Pain Physio.

Then it looks like #upandrun 13 will be over Table Mountain…..

If you are interested in partnering and supporting #upandrun, please get in touch. There are a range of ways you can sponsor and share your story with that of UP. Email Richmond here.

Why I have gone vegan

Undoubtedly, choosing the way of the vegan is gaining momentum. Each person will have their reasons. Here are mine.

There’s little doubt in my mind that I have chosen a vegan diet over the past couple of months to test the effects in me. It is likely I have been influenced by notable ultrarunners such as Scott Jurek and Capra Corbett.

(Being slightly philosophical for a moment, any decision that we make is the culmination of a range of beliefs, most of which are hidden away from our conscious awareness).

So how has it gone? It’s been interesting, that’s for sure, including other people’s responses. All in all, I can summarise by saying that I feel more energised, my running times appear to have improved (maybe I’m pushing harder?) and my digestive system seems to be working better (less bloating, discomfort, lighter). It is early days.

At the end of the blog are some of my favourite vegan things to eat

Initially being vegan meant a very different shopping experience. I had to really think about what I was going to eat and hence what I needed to buy. It has become easier with new habits of where to look, such as knowing where the oat milk is located.

Vegan mince pie

Then there is the challenge of being vegan and eating a healthy diet. The two do not have to co-exist. It would be easy to go for processed vegan food, all neatly packed at the end of one aisle in my local supermarket. When you look, there are plenty of vegan options, replacing day to day foods: cheese, sweets, biscuits, chocolate, bacon, sausages etc. I have had some scrumptious vegan sausages!

A recent trip to Liverpool meant finding places to eat. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was rather easy, with plenty of vegan options. I even saw a vegan chicken burger ad on a huge billboard from a well known fast food company — not my thing, but an interesting shift.

Beyond being curious and seeking to build wellness, there is also the positive effect upon the planet. Each person doing what they can adds up. This could be reducing plastic, easing back on animal products, or less travel.

From a scientific perspective much more research is needed. The recent film Game Changers provoked controversy with opponents claiming that the studies used were poor quality. However, if the reaction is to reduce the consumption of meat, this can only be a benefit. Many of the people who adjusted their diets subsequently were probably ready for change for different reasons. Whilst some of the quoted research may be inconclusive or lack certainty, it is pointing us in a particular direction.

Veganism is growing. And with the increasing numbers of people choosing this approach, there must be further research to understand the consequences. For instance, are there risks that need countering with vitamin supplements?

Only a couple of months in, I am unable to make any concrete claims about my case study of one. However, I will stick with it for now. Besides, much of the food is so delicious!

Beetroot juice

RS


Some of may favourite dishes so far…

Vegan Indian food with jackfruit, soya, tofu and vegetables

Roasted vegetables with tofu

Coffee with oat milk

Sauerkraut

Avocado & green vegetables

Fruit smoothies with chia seeds

Granola with oat milk or soya

Vegan sausages for breakfast with beans and mushrooms

Bean burritos with home made guacamole and salsa, plus vegan cheese

Lentils — spiced and seasoned

Quorn chilli and rice

Peanut butter on toast

Sweet potato and carrot soup

Green soup — beans, peas, broccoli and more

Humous as a dip or in a sandwich

Beetroot

And there’s so much more to try!

#upandrun 10 Hampton Court to Henley

Setting sun coming into Marlow

#upandrun 10 Hampton Court to Henley

76k along the Thames Path taking in Shepperton, Chertsey, Staines, Windsor, Maidenhead, Marlow and finally the home of one of the most famous regattas

The final ultra of the year for Understand Pain saw me running along the Thames, finishing at Henley-upon-Thames bridge. It’s a flat route meaning that most of the strides were similar, making for monotony as a challenge. The only variation was traversing fields, featuring uneven ground — tyre tracks, mole hills, divets etc. This was especially interesting in just the light of my head torch. Patches of fog provided additional fun.

Now it is time for some planning: monthly races and solos for 2020. There are so many to choose from! My thinking is to go for a 100-miler and another mountain race. I have some unfinished business on Snowdon, but perhaps Europe.

The UP workshops will have a different look in 2020. There are a couple of new projects afoot, which I will announce in more details once the details are finalised.

Exciting times ahead!

Meanwhile, here are some photos from #upandrun 10.

Runnymede

River Thames

Windsor Castle

RS

#upandrun 10

The route for #upandrun 10
Thames Path

#upandrun 10

Here’s the plan. Hampton Court to Reading; just over 50 miles along the Thames Path heading west.

Never has the need to understand pain been greater. Undoubtedly we are in times of great suffering for many reasons — mainly driven by our choices as humans on this planet. Whilst suffering is undoubtedly part of the lived experience for all of us, we can do so much better at being there for each other, regardless of background. At the end of the day, we all have the the same needs and desire for a fulfilling life.

Understand Pain plays its part by bringing practical knowledge into society so that people can improve their lives. My preference is face to face at the workshops: UP for people suffering persistent pain, for GPs and for healthcare professionals. The latter includes student physiotherapists who are the next generation and can make a huge difference. Last week I was enormously enthused by a sizeable group of MSc and BSc physio students at Leeds Beckett University where I ran an impromptu session (read here); a kind of surprise gig….

My hope and dream is much more of this as the story gathers momentum — so please share far and wide!

Look out for the next blog and the pics of #upandrun 10 on the day >> @painphysio on Twitter and @paincoach on Insta.

3000k for #upandrun 2019

3000k for #upandrun and on go!

On Friday night Strava told me that I had reached 3000k for the year so far. Undoubtedly, the cause Understand Pain (UP) has been a massive motivator together with a sense of purpose, echoing the thoughts of Dean Karnazes: ‘…ultrarunning is a noble pursuit and has brought purpose to many people’s lives, as it has mine.’

However, there’s a long way to go. Society needs to develop its understanding of pain: what it is really and why it can persist. That’s one of the main purposes of UP.

My intention is to continue with the ultrarunning to raise awareness of the problem of pain. There is no end goal; just to keep going as in the style of shuffling mile after mile. Along the way, I hope to gain partners who want to share the story of making a positive impact in society (do get in touch here if you are interested). For example, UP recently has teamed up with a large healthcare company to work on a really exciting Pain Coaching project — more on this soon.

But, none of this would have been possible without the support and encouragement of a number of people. Therefore, I dedicate this blog and the #upandrun 3000 to them with massive gratitude. Some I know well and some I know of; all have helped in their own unique ways and many won’t have realised!

Here they are, and there will be others! My wife Jo (boy does she have to put up with a lot! Socks, shoes, driving, boring running talk, my new vegan diet…), my kids, Mike Pegg, Jeff Weigh, Chris Peskett, Adharanand Finn, Catra Corbett, Richard Askwith, Scott Jurek, Charlotte at Fancy Running, Kilian Jornet, Dean Karnazes, Rich Roll, Michael Gervais, Cody Royle, Russell Brand, Mick Thacker, Sanjay from Pursu, and Georgie with whom I started the whole UP project.

And as Mike Pegg always says: on we go.

Indeed we do. Indeed we must.

#upandrun No.8

Richmond Stace co-founder of UP running for #upandrun

It is time to think about the October #upandrun ultramarathon now that I have recovered from the Snowdonia adventure and am back to running around locally.

There are several choices, both of which are solos. That is when the runner heads off on his or her own, unsupported, making their way from A to B.

The one I shall go for is Richmond to Oxford along the Thames Path. Previously I ran from Hampton Court to the Thames Barrier, so this will be going the other way; out of town so to speak.

The route is 100 miles. I will chunk this into two days, finding somewhere to stop overnight. Any suggestions are welcome. Preferably somewhere quiet, with nourishing food where I can dry out and put my feet up for a few hours before setting off again. All I will carry is what I can fit in my backpack.

So that’s the plan. I will confirm the dates soon.

If you are interested in sponsoring this run and the October UP workshop, or sponsoring/associating with #upandrun do get in touch >> richmond@specialistpainphysio.com

South Coast Challenge 29th August

Running a ultramarathon along a coastal path

6th ultra: South Coast Challenge

The next in the #12in12 ultra series for #upandrun is the South Coast Challenge 100km, from Eastbourne to Arundel.

The course follows an undulating route across the South Coast taking in Beachy Head, Brighton and the South Downs along the way.

You can follow the run on the day on Twitter with the usual hashtag #upandrun & @painphysio and on Instagram. I will be posting photos and videos on the way round.

And as ever, the purpose is to raise awareness of the problem of pain; the No1 global health burden.

You can support our work here >> thank you

RS