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.
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.
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!
We gathered near Totnes in Devon at a holiday house on the Sharpham Estate, with dual hot tubs outside on the deck. The taxi driver who dropped me was most surprised to see a full, steaming circular bath full of people as we pulled up. He quickly reversed, and I don’t think he believed me when I said that it was a running and writing retreat.
It was a super weekend. The group gelled as we shared our stories, reasons for signing up and our dreams. Adharanand and Richard set a tone of openness, humility and clarity that enabled authenticity. Naturally I cannot speak for the others, but this is how it felt. Through this we were treated to passionate, amusing, hilarious, ridiculous, descriptive writing, some in the form of a game and some in prose. People we had left at home may have thought we were on a jolly, but this was hard work. It just so happens that both the running and writing are passions.
We wound our way up and down trails, through woods, along paths, hopping from rock to rock, through gates, over stiles, under the sun, through the rain, in the shadows, in wide open spaces, along the river, skipping through streams, sliding down narrow muddy routes, sploshing and squelching, flying and skipping, trudging and striding we went. Most of all though, we were together, sharing our own experiences as one.
The running was fun. However, it was the writing workshops that created the opportunity for openness and vulnerability. That’s when you get to know someone at a deeper level. Each person brought themselves, cultivating a unique blend of thoughts feelings, emotions, insights; all embodied.
The next UP Workshop is on November 20th at The Groves Medical Centre; free tickets here.
If you would like to hots an UP workshop for clinicians who want an introduction to Pain Coaching or for people suffering persistent pain to learn how they can improve their life, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Look out for #upandrun 10 in December — it could be in your area!
The North Wales Coastal Path and Oxford to Richmond are on hold for now. A few logistical things to sort out. Meanwhile, the Kent loop of the North Downs way is calling.
Setting off from Wey, not so far from Ashford, the route heads down to Folkestone before following the coast to Dover, taking in the white cliffs. Turning inland, the trail winds its way up to Canterbury. From there it heads south west, meeting the Way back towards Farnham (the West start point). At the split, I will continue back round towards Folkestone for a few kilometres to the start point, Wey. I calculate about 90km in the day.
Keep an eye out for #upandrun on Twitter and Instagram and FB — RT and share the story and the messages: we can help people improve their lives, no matter the start point.
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.
For the 7th ultra I am hitting the hills, or rather mounting the mountains….
Most of the races so far have included some steep hills. Over the South Downs near Ditchling Beacon on my way to Brighton from London, traversing the Seven Sisters from Eastbourne towards Brighton and along The Ridgeway on Race to the Stones, have all challenged my thighs. Running and walking uphill is one thing, coming down is another. There’s an art to the latter. A balance between controlling one’s descent so you don’t fall and saving your quads! The Maverick inov-8 ultra has an elevation of 3020 over 60-odd k.
Traditionally I am not great with heights. So this ultra presents an additional element and feature for me to cope with whilst climbing, descending, walking trotting, hopping, shuffling and running. Don’t look down! Having said that, I have been on mountains plenty of times before and usually enjoyed the views, fresh air and freedom.
Recently I was thinking that #upandrun would continue for 12 months, #12in12. But then I thought about afterwards and what I would do. I can’t see that I will stop, so this will continue indefinitely with a blend of races and solos that accompany the monthly UP workshops (next one on 18th Sept >> tickets here).
You can support Understand Pain here, helping us to run the workshops each month so that they are free for those most in need, to increase the number of workshops and the reach. Meanwhile, I’ll keep running to raise awareness and bring the tools to people so that they can improve their lives.
#upandrun is an Understand Pain project raising awareness of the problem of pain — the No1 global health burden. We are working to reduce the enormous suffering caused by chronic pain that affects millions and costs billions.
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