Sunday, 6 March 2016

Your questions answered (Part 1)

This is the first in a series of posts which will answer the many questions that were asked via my social media pages.

I'd like to tackle George Caulkin's questions first. George is a well respected journalist for The Times and a patron of The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. 

What are the biggest physical challenges? I've had plantar fasciitis and Achilles trouble from over exercising. How do you deal with, prevent that or are you just made of elastic? Any tips? There are many physical challenges but I think you are specifically referring to coping with injury and damage sustained during the run. 

During the run across the USA my feet were in a terrible blistered state during the first 2 weeks and the final 2 weeks. The run across Australia saw damage to similar areas of my feet from day 2. It got much worse for the next 60 days. Up to 3 hours per day was spent treating my feet during the final weeks of the run. That proved just enough to get me to the finish line. 

A lot of the time I just put up with the pain and damage. There were times in Australia when I was taking more painkillers than I probably should have been. The best painkiller proved to be sparkling wine given to me by a passing owner of a winery called Tony Gorman (pictured with me below). The positive effects lasted an hour or so. "Good times" so the saying goes.

The tip for any troubles you may have is to seek expert advice and treatment. I see podiatrist Alison Meldrum at The Cradlewell Clinic in Jesmond on a regular basis. She has an excellent reputation amongst the North East running community. She was responsible for looking after me after the USA and Australia runs. For the first time in many a year I’m running as pain free as I can ever remember. Alison is part of my support team in Europe and we have been looking at prevention rather than cure this time around. As a result of her diagnosis I now wear a specially designed insole. One other change we’ve made is a simple one and that’s to go up ½ a shoe size. This will hopefully reduce the amount of blisters when my feet inevitably swell due to the high mileage. 

Favourite music while running? I regard myself as a music snob, yet seem to end up listening to high energy camp disco while running? Why is that? You probably can't answer that. I probably don't want you to. I listen to all kinds of music when I run. The most effective for me is dance music and trance in particular. A local DJ, Ross Anderson, has supplied me with some playlists for use in Europe. I’m going to use these sparingly and when the time is right. I listened to all of the Now That’s What I Call Music series in Australia. The rest of what I listen to is too vast and far too embarrassing to talk about! 

Any running superstitions? I always run on the side of the oncoming traffic. That’s more for safety than a superstition I suppose. I always finish a run on a round mile. That’s probably more OCD than a superstition. So I guess "No" to superstitions.

Plans to watch Euro 2016 while away? No plans. There’ll be very little spare time unfortunately. 

Can you imagine life without running? I can’t imagine life without fundraising therefore I can’t imagine life without running. 

What do you dream of, fantasise about on a long run? A favourite food? A feather pillow? A hot shower? The day to day training thoughts are usually filled with ideas of how to raise further funds and raise awareness. I’ve had some major PR and fundraising victories over the years as a result of thoughts while training. 

During the big events, if there is a thought to be had, good or bad, I usually have it. I once sent a message to Donna saying that it would be nice if we could get a new vacuum cleaner. At the time it seemed very important. After months of being away from home, I guess I long for normality. 

I think the most common thought in any circumstance is that of a bacon sandwich! 

Do you ever stop to look at the view? And what has been your favourite? I've run around the bottom tip of Manhattan and the length of Copacabana beach and couldn't stop smiling. I do get the opportunity to take in the view while I’m running. The Mojave Desert in California was an incredible place. Later on in the run across the USA, the Rocky Mountains and in particular Rabbit Ears Pass and Berthoud Pass (pictured below) were simply stunning as well as being incredibly tough places to run. 

What is the one thing you couldn't run without? You can only name one. I’ll not say the obvious answer which is my trusty Brooks Glycerin running shoes. In Australia, I don’t think I could have finished the run without a fly net (pictured below). Surrounded by thousands of flies every day for 82 days was very unpleasant.

Thanks for those questions George. Watch this space for more questions very soon.