Sunday, 12 September 2021

Team Run Geordie Run 2022

Are you sat there watching the Great North Run coverage this year thinking "I wish I could do that" or "I would love to do that but I'll never get a place"? I'm pleased to report that there are now places available on Team Run Geordie Run for the 2022 Great North Run in aid of St. Benedict's Hospice (Charity No. 1019410). 


The cost of signing up to Team Run Geordie Run is £58 for those who have never been on the team before or £29 for those that have. There is a commitment to raise £300 for St. Benedict's Hospice

Team Run Geordie Run members will receive: 
  • Entry to the 2022 Great North Run.
  • Exclusive Team Run Geordie Run t-shirt (or vest if you prefer). Additional t-shirts/vests are available to purchase.
  • Access to the St. Benedict's Hospice hospitality marquee in the charity village near the finish line. This is where you can enjoy refreshments and meet up with family and friends.
  • Exclusive Team Run Geordie Run goodie bag* at St. Benedict's Hospice hospitality marquee.           * Alcohol content only available to those entrants 18 or over.
  • Half price entry to the 2023 Great North Run as part of Team Run Geordie Run.

If you'd like to do the Great North Run in 2022 in aid of St. Benedict's Hospice then please complete the form below to register your interest.

Friday, 10 September 2021

Bloody enjoying myself

Things have definitely changed for me over the last few months. By that, I specifically mean my effort levels in training. I’m writing this today, still with the buzz from last nights session at David Fairlamb Fitness. 


I must admit that I’d been looking forward to it since I left the gym on Tuesday. By the time I got there yesterday, I was totally up for giving absolutely everything and having absolutely nothing left to give. The thing with Dave’s sessions are they are all varied. You never know what you are going to get. There is always a mixture of cardio, strength, plyometrics and so on. A whole manner of equipment is used including ropes, hammer and tyres (my personal favourite pictured below), Watt Bikes, ski machines, Versaclimbers (2nd favourite also pictured below), traditional weights, slam balls and much more. There is very little rest across the 45 minute session. You always feel like you’re constantly on the go. As a result, I always feel very focussed and the session tends to fly over. 



I do two back to back sessions on a Monday and Thursday. If the first session sees an above average amount of effort given (and it has the last few weeks) then I know I’m in for a torrid time during that second session. Last night was a perfect example. 

As I have seen many times during the run around the world and particularly across the USA, when I’m very fatigued I can dig in and start to perform at an unexpected higher level. I’ve not often seen this in any training I’ve ever done until this year at Dave’s gym. The image below shows heart rate (a good sign of the effort I’m putting in across the 2 circled sessions). 


The yellow lines are where my heart rate is 80% - 90% of max and red is above 90%. The next image below is something I use from the Athlytic app which shows effort levels compared to the average for this type of session. Last night was a pleasing 18.6% higher than average. This figure should come down over time when I put in consistently higher than average levels of effort. 


These kinds of stats have really helped to give me focus over recent months. While Dave provides a perfect platform to train, it’s up to me to grasp that opportunity, give my all and continue to improve. 

Aside from the obvious physical benefits of getting fitter and stronger there is another side to this. It’s something that I’ve mentioned many times over the last 14 months. The mental health benefit that I’ve seen has been massive. You will have seen me say things like “I come away from the gym feeling like a world beater” or “I feel like I could take on the world” or "I feel like a million dollars". 

The effect a session like last night has on me stays with me for days. Or at least until the next session which is Beach Bootcamp at Tynemouth tomorrow! 

There is still a very long way to go on this journey. The foundations that have been built over the last 14 months are beyond pleasing. It’s now down to me to take this to the next level. I tell you what though, I’m bloody enjoying myself right now.

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Meeting at St. Benedict's Hospice

I met with the fundraising staff at St. Benedict's Hospice today. On the agenda was a look back at the last Stage X campaign and also what the plans are for the immediate future. 


The total amount raised, thanks to an incredible amount of generosity, for this campaign currently stands at £12,750.43. That is a fantastic amount but, had it not been for the pandemic, I’m convinced that it would have been a lot more. 


Of course, this was the year where I should have ran from Kiev to Nur Sultan as part of the run around the world. As with previous stages, that would have seen a fundraising target of £50,000. We were also due to have a fundraising ball this year. Sadly, all of those plans went by the wayside during the first lockdown. To have raised this sum for the Hospice, while very pleasing in one sense is, however, also personally disappointing in another. 

The next major world stage isn’t going away and will be done when it’s safe to do so. I know that I won’t be the only fundraiser or charity whose plans have been disrupted. But to raise just shy of £13,000 under these circumstances is testament to the generosity of so many kind people including a very generous set of commercial sponsors. I’m perhaps being very harsh on myself to even consider using the word “disappointing” but that’s where standards are now after 28 years of fundraising. 

I know from the reaction that I received at the Hospice today, that there is absolutely no disappointment from them. Every penny is desperately needed to help care for terminally ill people in the region and put to very good use. If you’ve donated then rest assured that your money is helping to make a positive difference. 

As ever, I felt very appreciated at the Hospice today. The truth is that my own love and appreciation for St. Benedict’s Hospice and what the staff there did for my Mam (pictured with me below) has kept me going since she died in 1995. 


Yes, I’m continuing to repay the debt of gratitude, but being a fundraiser has without doubt had a huge positive impact on my life. Fundraising is essentially an unpaid job that attracts a lot of love, generosity, positivity and the chance to meet all manner of kind and interesting people. It has been and continues to be the biggest asset that I have when dealing with grief. Long may that continue. 

Back to today and I was happy to see the excited look when I discussed my future fundraising plans. I’ll talk more about those in greater detail next month. Although watch out for one exciting announcement as early as this Sunday. 

I left St. Benedict’s Hospice today feeling very positive as I always do. There was a peaceful quiet about the place and the sun was shining brightly. I’ll close tonight by again thanking everyone who has donated this year. Your support is massively appreciated. Thanks also to main sponsor Chapman Ventilation and also Taylored-fit Physio, D-Line, Steven Bell Properties, Active Edge, Northumberland Tea, NUFC.com and David Fairlamb Fitness.


Thursday, 26 August 2021

Fully committed

I wrote two weeks ago that “I’m fully committed to each and every session ….. I never leave anything in the gym. The tanks are always emptied.” after yet another tough session at David Fairlamb Fitness. They aren’t just words. Those sentiments are being seen in action time and time again in Dave’s gym. Tonight’s double session was no exception. 

I gave as much as I could during the first session. Yet again though the effort levels were slightly below average. Only slightly mind. I use heart rate to measure this by the way. Of course, some weeks aren’t as cardio intensive as others so it’s just a rough guide. The second session is always a carbon copy of the first so that’s when a good comparison can be made. And surprise, the exertion in the second session was way above average. And boy did it feel like it. I had to take myself to places I don’t often have to go in my mind. I was on my limit on many occasions during that second session tonight. 

As tough as it was, I was absolutely loving every second of it. I simply had to use every syllable of Dave’s cues and words of encouragement to my advantage. Dave was the proverbial 12th man! I really wish I’d had the chance to get a photo but, yeah, that’s not happening in a session like that. This isn’t Instagram! Instead, I’ll leave you with a picture of a puppy stolen from Google. 


The image below is the comparison between tonight’s two identical sessions. 


So, once again, I left Dave’s gym feeling like an absolute world beater. I always say that there is a long way to go in this journey. I’ll be speaking more about the next steps soon. I have an exciting plan for 2022. For now, there continues to be an upward trajectory of strength, conditioning, fitness but, most importantly of all, enjoyment.

Friday, 13 August 2021

A "complete week"

It’s been, what I would call a “complete week” of training all carried out at David Fairlamb Fitness. This morning’s session was a Versa Climber class and capped off yet another enjoyable week in the gym. The 30 minute climbing session at 0715 was all about the intervals. Dave stressed the need for consistency across each set. As a result, my focus was set firmly on maintaining a climbing rate of 140ft per minute. Bearing in mind that when I do a similar session at home my comfortable pace is around 120ft per minute. A session I did last week at home saw me only just get to 100ft per minute. This, for me, just shows what I’ve become aware of over the last 12 months. If you have a commanding inspirational leader of a session then good things can happen in terms of performance. Possibly more important than that is the enjoyment I continue to find at the gym (or Saturday on the beach). 



The enjoyment of sessions got me through the early days last year and gave me a good platform. I’m now able to push myself that bit more with confidence and with the support and encouragement of Dave and the other trainers who take the particular sessions. 

As far back as August 2008, just days before I met Dave, I wrote the following on www.rungeordierun.com - “…a certain Theodore Schumann once said "Surrounding yourself in your practice with the right people who have great attitudes is truly one of the keys to both success and happiness.". So with that in mind, I've been thinking about trying to get a proper coach and mentor to keep me on the straight and narrow and ultimately increase my chances of success. Mr Schumann explains further - "In order to grow in your field, you need a voice that understands where you're coming from and what your goals are. A mentor provides the wisdom you haven't yet achieved, or the motivation you need to take bold action. While you won't always agree with your mentor, you will learn to appreciate all he or she teaches you.".” 

I wrote those paragraphs as a 37 year old. Today, I’m 50 and I could not agree more with what my younger self had to say. The blog went on to say “So, after having read this, I'm sure you'll agree that the chances of success are set to increase now that David and Mark are on board. Mark, I know fairly well. David, I only met for the first time last Thursday. It is easy to see why personal training is his field. He has an infectious motivational attitude about himself. I felt like I could be a world beater after the chat I had with him. That, together with Mark's drive and support means I may actually stand a chance of completing the required amount of training and ultimately the next big run across the USA in 2011.”. 

Now that paragraph is uncanny as I often leave the gym feeling, as I put it, “like a world beater”. I often also use the phrase “I now feel like a million dollars”. The physical, mental and charitable benefits from working with Dave and Mark have been and continue to be absolutely priceless. Regular readers will remember when they both returned to the USA for a second unplanned surprise week of support. "Who would even do that?" is a phrase I've also used many times.


There is still much further to travel on this journey. I’m fully committed to each and every session and, as you can tell from the picture below, I never leave anything in the gym. The tanks are always emptied. 


If I could go back and tell my younger self anything it would be “This will turn out to be a great decision. You’re going to enjoy training with Dave and Mark. It will change your life. Stick at it mate”. Dave and Mark - thanks for everything you do. See you on the beach tomorrow for another tough Beach Bootcamp.

Friday, 16 July 2021

All done

Full report to follow. In the meantime, if you’d like to sponsor me in aid of St Benedict’s Hospice then please visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/rungeordierun



Day 5 update

Made it from the border lowlands to the Castle.  Thanks to Carlton for setting a quick pace over the last 5 miles. Oh and carrying my water. That was too quick but gets me to Lindisfarne Castle slightly ahead of schedule. 

To summarise, my right foot is swollen probably because it spent all night in the passenger side footwell last night. It’s ok to run on but getting my sock and shoe on this morning took ages. Blisters are nasty and would probably start to cause major issues if I was to run for a few more days. Energy levels very good. Next food stop is porridge back at the car on the mainland. 

I seriously doubt I would have made it this far (In fact I wouldn’t) without the support team I have. Carlton has put in a tough few days in this heat. It really is like having a butler!! 






Stobbsy and Donna join the team for the final section. That will free up Stobbsy to get a few miles in and see me home. 

I’m sat at the foot of the castle typing this. I’m getting the evils off Carlton which means it’s time to push on back to the mainland. The breeze on the causeway will bring brief respite. 

Finally, thanks to those kind people who have sponsored me in aid of St Benedict’s Hospice. I’ll get a proper total later but I think the amount for this current campaign stands at around £11,900. Without the kind sponsors on my shirt and those of you donating via http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/rungeordierun it would not be possible. 

Right Carlton is starting to pace up and down. It’s time to get moving. I’ll be pushing as hard as I can to get to Bamburgh for 7pm (ish).


Day 5

About 1 hour of sleep, badly damaged feet (no surprise) and scorching temperatures here in the borders. After an early start, Holy Island is a few miles away. I’m looking good to beat the tide times and get back to the mainland before the final 20 mile push to Bamburgh. 

Donations are much needed for St Benedict’s Hospice and if you’d like to sponsor me then please visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/rungeordierun. Every penny is hugely appreciated. 

ETA at Bamburgh is currently between 7 and 8 pm.




Thursday, 15 July 2021

Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Day 2

Good morning from day 2. 5 hours broken sleep was had and I’m now on the rolling climbs of the A68. 

It’s my 50th birthday today so if you’d like to buy me a present then I can’t think of a better one than a donation to St Benedict’s Hospice. That can be done here http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/rungeordierun






Monday, 12 July 2021

Here we go

Just a quick post to get things going. Watch out later tonight for a full account of day 1. Currently driving to the start line at Bamburgh where I expect to start running at 0600. 

50 miles is the target and any donations to St Benedict’s Hospice would be gratefully received at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/rungeordierun  




Wednesday, 7 July 2021

Last big training run (day 2)

Day 2 of this particular training camp was a nice and straightforward (and flat!) 18 mile route from Berwick to Holy Island causeway and back. My social media read "Good morning from Berwickshire on day 2 of a 4 day training run from Edinburgh back home. After yesterday’s epic 32 mile / 2500 ft elevation run I’m pleased to report there’s not too many aches today. There’s a bit of minor damage to my feet but nothing too serious at all. Today’s route is from Berwick to Holy Island and back. I should be back in time for the footy later.".

It was a cloudy and cold start as I ran on the promenade at Spittal just south of Berwick. Sadly there was nowhere open to get an ice cream and I plodded on southwards.


After a short climb up the cliff path I took a minute to look back on Berwick. I have very happy memories of spending most Wednesdays during my childhood summer holidays at the toy shop behind the town hall. My Dad would be in the pub while my Mam and me had a look round the market and the shops. The toy shop was usually the last place we visited. I remember being impatient to go back to the caravan at Seahouses to play with whatever had been bought for me (usually Star Wars figures). Great times.

As I looked back on Berwick, the sun started to shine brightly and cover me in a nice warmth. As soon as I got going again, the cloud covered the sun back up and it made for slightly chilly conditions. 


The next few miles were undulating but nothing compared to the previous days hilly exploits. The terrain was quite a challenge with narrow coastal paths overgrown with nettles in places. I noticed that there were plenty of people playing golf as I ran past the course at Goswick.


I reached the causeway just before lunchtime. There were plenty of cars making their way onto Holy Island. I'll be back here next week if all goes to plan on the next stage of the run around the world. I need to be off the Island (the 30 mile point for there day) at 6pm.  


Back to last week and I stopped for lunch at the foot of the "rescue tower". It's hard to imagine that the foot of these steps gets covered when the tide comes in.


I picked up the pace on the way back. It was only a 9 mile stretch but I wanted to be back in plenty of time to watch England play Ukraine.


Carlton joined me for the final mile at Spittal. I celebrated another good day of running with an ice cream. The sun decided to make an appearance too.


The day was complete when England beat Ukraine in the European Championship quarter final. I spared a thought for the kind folk that I met back in 2018. They'd done really well to get that far.

So with 50 miles ran in 2 days there was further minor damage to my feet and the base of my back was a little sore due to carrying the pack. My feet and right ankle showed early signs of the swelling that I've seen on many occasions running around the world. It's good to be back!

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Last big training run (day 1)

Last week saw the final big training run before Stage X. I didn't have a particular route in mind but the basic idea was to get a train up to Edinburgh and run back home somehow. I set off early from Morpeth on Monday with a heavy pack full of food, water and my sleeping bag. I had 2 days to make it to Berwick where support man Carlton had offered a bed for the night.

I left the station in Edinburgh and was very surprised to see how quiet the streets were. There was hardly a soul about and not much traffic. It was a sign of the times I suppose.

The previous 6 times I've ran back from Edinburgh have all involved running almost due south out of the city towards Dalkeith. This time, however, I ran in the direction of Portobello with a view to heading in the general direction of Berwick. It's not like me to not have a detailed route but I was carrying everything I needed and I felt like I had at least 30 miles in my legs that day. The image below is on the A1 out of Edinburgh with Arthur's Seat in the background. One of my favourite sights is looking back on it when I'm 20 or so miles away. It always gives a great feeling of progress and accomplishment.  


I reached the promenade at Portobello in good time and headed along it. There were plenty of people about enjoying a walk, a run or a coffee. I think the last time I was here was for an overnight stop during my run from John O'Groats to Lands End in 2007.


I soon reached Musselburgh after Portobello followed by Tranent. By this time, I had a rough route in mind and made my way towards East Saltoun and Gifford. The roads were pretty quiet and I was pleased that all the oncoming traffic gave me plenty of room and most gave a friendly wave. 

I stopped at a tremendous little cafe in Gifford called Lanterne Rouge. I suspected from the name that it might be a popular stop for cyclists and I was not mistaken. I was greeted by the friendly owner and the scone and coffees that I had were as delicious as they were very much needed. I also spoke across the room to some very friendly locals and talked about my running exploits.


The kind owner (pictured below) wouldn't take my money for the coffees and scone so I explained while I don't accept free meals etc, I do pass on the money I would have paid to St. Benedict's Hospice. In time honoured tradition, I made a donation to the Hospice via uk.virginmoneygiving.com/rungeordierun.   


I later wrote on my socials "...the climbing after Gifford was absolutely tremendous. So tough and even more so carrying a full pack ready for rough sleeping and 2 days worth of provisions. Anyone who knows me knows I love a climb. I’ve got to mention the kind folk again in the cafe in Gifford. Their good wishes and kind gestures really put a spring in my step as I then climbed, climbed and climbed some more. At one point I could see Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh to the north and then The Cheviot to the south east.". 

There was a road closure just outside Gifford meaning I had the place to myself. It was a small bonus but I have to again mention the very considerate driving that I'd ran alongside throughout the day.


Despite the difficulty, I really enjoyed the climb up to the summit at 1420 ft or so. This gave me a marathon distance for the day. The views back to Edinburgh were spectacular and I could just about make out Arthur's Seat on the horizon.


As I ran down the other side of the climb I could make out The Cheviot to my right. The view straight ahead (pictured below) included a wind farm and Whiteadder Reservoir in the distance. I stopped running for a second and there was not a sound to be heard. No wind. No traffic. Nothing. It was possibly one of the quietest places that I'd ever ran in the UK. I think I've only ever experienced this kind of silence before in the Mojave Desert. It was nice to run for a bit without the music playing on my iPhone.  


The final 6 miles were a bit of a slog and I spent a lot of time checking out the surroundings while I was running this final miles. I've got to admit that I wasn't looking forward to sleeping rough here. There was plenty of wildlife around and the signs warning of snakes in the vicinity didn't fill me with confidence.
 

I'll take the text from my socials to explain what happened next - "32 miles done and guess who turns up. It’s only the legend that is support man Carlton. 'Would you like a bed for the night at my holiday cottage down the road?' he says. Well it was either that or sleep amongst the Adders! So I’m now looking at the prospect of a shower, pizza and a comfy bed when I was all prepped for rough sleeping. Carlton has played some blinders in his time across 3 continents. Today is up there with the best of them. It almost makes up for the burnt cheesy popcorn fiasco and using the last of the water in Australia to do the dishes.".


So after running 31.7 miles with 2500 ft of elevation from Edinburgh to Cranshaws I had the prospect of a warm meal and roof over my head. I think it was at that point that I made the decision that sleeping rough is no longer for me. I've got no problem sleeping in Chappie but the days of a bivvy bag are long gone for me. Especially in places named after the snakes that inhabit there! What was I thinking!



A huge thank you to Carlton who, once again,  went above and beyond in the name of supporting my running. He has been involved in the runs across the USA, Australia and Western Europe as well as Edinburgh to Newcastle in the past. His involvement this time was as appreciated as any of them. 

So a tough and successful day 1 came to a satisfying end. Tune in tomorrow where I'll reflect on day's 2 and 3.