Wednesday, 4 July 2018

A very dry month

I’m stopping drinking alcohol for 30 days and donating a fiver a day (the price of a cheap bottle of plonk) to Out Of The Blue*.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) rates alcohol abuse in its list of top risk factors for suicide. In their report on Public HealthAction For The Prevention Of Suicide, the development of policies to reduce the harmful use of alcohol is number 2 on the list of prevention strategies. This is cascaded to our National Suicide Prevention Strategy in the UK, and even further, is written into the East Sussex Suicide Prevention Plan.

So in terms of suicide prevention, alcohol abuse is pretty high on the agenda.

There are personal reasons for me too.
A big part of Walk2Run is intercession – that is, praying for an end to suicide,  and to see people’s lives changed so that they can choose to live life in all its fullness.

There’s a verse in the bible that goes something like ‘be alert and sober so that you can pray’. Of course sober can mean ‘serious’  as well  as alcohol free. Nevertheless, it’s hard to be alert and ‘sober’ (whatever the original meaning of the text)  when under the influence of alcohol.
I’m no raging alcoholic, I’m not anti drink, and there are few more pleasurable things in life that sitting in my garden with my man and my kids with a glass of wine in my hand after a hard day’s work.

So I’m not suggesting everyone should join me, or even anyone for that matter. 

(That said, if you would like to join me to raise awareness and funds for suicide charities, if you want to feel more alert, thinner and get a better night's sleep, let me know and we can multiply our efforts. The more the (alcohol-free) merrier!)

Today, for me, I’m faced with a choice. Do I drink, or do I want to learn to pray? I’m choosing to put down the bottle for 30 days starting today, 4th July 2018.

Cheers to living life in all its fullness! (and maybe dropping a few pounds round my waist)

Come and run with us, it might just change your life 

*Out Of The Blue continue to raise funds to support 4 charities, The Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team, CALM, Dragonflies and Winstons Wish, and to raise awareness of mental health and suicide.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Come and run with us, it might just save your life

You’ve heard of the hit US TV show “13 Reasons Why”. For all the controversy surrounding it, at least it’s got people talking about SUICIDE. Please read this response, written by a 15 year old girl who came to Walk2Run for the first time this week.

  1. You can do it anywhere. You can run practically anywhere. Whether on the treadmill or in the park, it’s easy to rack up miles and go the distance. You don’t need fancy equipment or lots of money just tie up your shoes and start running.                                                                                
  2. You can meet new people make new friends and even possibly being a new relationship. If you are feeling lonely then join a running group where I am sure you will meet new and exciting people.                                                                                                                                  
  3. It is very good for your health. Running can keep you fit and out of the doctors. Active people have better hearts, lungs and mental health. So? What are you waiting for get out there and start running.                                                                                                                                             
  4. Live longer! Who doesn’t want more time to spend with their friends, families or to just be able to smell the fresh air? Even if you feel like you don’t have anyone you might find someone when out running who could change your mind.                                                                             
  5. It can improve your self- esteem. It’s been scientifically proven that runners who ran outside gazing at a good view of nature showed increased self-esteem in comparison to a treadmill for example.                                                                                                                                           
  6. Running improves your body physically as well by strengthening your bones; keeping balance easier which protects knees and tendons in the process. Don’t overdo it though as that can cause injury, just take it slow and steady and you can still see improvements.                                         
  7. It can improve your sleep. As you use your energy it results in a better sleeping pattern as well as a higher quality of the sleep.                                                                                                        
  8. It is available all day every day. Running is not limited to the winter, summer or any season but it is accessible all year round.                                                                                                                  
  9. It is basically priceless. You don’t have to pay £25 a month to go to the gym and run on a treadmill. You don’t need to pay to go to classes or for a trainer, it could only be a few pounds to join a running club then a good pair of footwear and you’re set.                                                   
  10. It can be very fun and relaxing. Just getting out of bed and out of the house and exploring the world can improve your view of life. Meeting new people, seeing new things and being in a safe environment can be mentally beneficial.                                                                                      
  11. It makes you happier. When you exercise your brain releases a chemical called endorphins. These endorphins interact with your brain which triggers a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine.                                                                                                                           
  12. Run your stress away. If you ran for just 1 hour per week it can in fact slightly remodel the brain making it calmer and more stress resistant                                                                                
  13. Show your heart, body and mind some loving. It is mentally beneficial as it can improve confidence, self-esteem, and stress and make you happier if you run for 1 hour heart disease could be reduced by half. Then running a further hour can decrease it even more. Then your body, if you weigh 11.5 stone or more you could burn more than 850 calories per hour. So here are 13 reasons to run. Will you start now?

Come and run with us, it might just change your life

For information on safeTALK Suicide Alertness For Everyone, please click the dates below.
Or to arrange training for your organisation please contact me at Jacky

Tuesday, 15 May 2018


Post Marathon Stress Disorder,  (aka Post Traumatic Race Disorder).

You spend months training to reach your goal, whatever that is, and you smash it. But then what? You imagine you’ll carry on training exactly as before, up and out before the birds, determined and focussed. But actually, rarely is this the case, unless there’s some other reason to keep on running.  You start to cancel runs, you get put off by a little wind or rain, or sun, social engagements suddenly move up a place on the weekly agenda. 

It’s good to have a little slump time. Cheers to that!

But then it’s time to crack on. Like everyone else, I’d love to be fitter, healthier, thinner, but try as I might, those things on their own are simply not enough to get me to put my trainers on. After all, I can always start tomorrow.

I’m very lucky these days because I run with other people as my mission in life as well as my job. I hate to admit it, but other people are ‘what’ motivates me these days. This from the girl who’s live-by mantra used to be ‘I am a rock, I am an island’

I went out for a work social last night, a fantastic Indian meal, paid for by the company. 35 of us, all ages and backgrounds, volunteers, workers, friends partners and family.  I met a lady there, a retired PE teacher who made a flippant comment that’s made me think. She said that people (and government funding streams!) generally think that fitness comes first, then the social elements. But they’re wrong (she commented), actually the social element comes first.

By way of example:
On this morning’s school run (yes we ran, we were focussed on not being late!) I chatted to a very lovely self-confessed unhealthy lady who wants to lose a few pounds. She’d seen me training someone on the promenade last week, and suddenly she thought, hey, if he can do it, then maybe I can. So we chatted, and hopefully she’ll let me teach her and her daughter how to run.

Do you see what happened there? She knows damn well, like all of us, that we need to get up and out and fit and healthy. But was that enough? Nope. But the social element of seeing someone else out there, the social element of the chat on the school run, the social element of joining with her daughter…. These may be the things that get her up and running.

I’m smiling as I realise how motivating that little conversation was for me. I even rushed home to tell my partner , and I imagine messaging the bloke she’d seen training to also encourage him. I wanted to spread the word.

That’s how it’s done. Yes we can rave about obesity, we can count calories and read the warning on cigarette packets as we light up, and sugar content as we down the last square of chocolate.

But actually maybe it’s the social element that really works. It’s the people you’re with and the people you’re fighting for, or Walk2Running for. And maybe that’s the at least part of the solution to PMSD. Or PTRD. Or even, dare I say it Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Come and run with us, it might just save your life

For information on safeTALK Suicide Alertness For Everyone, please click the dates below.
Or to arrange training for your organisation please contact me at Jacky

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

A Trainer's Tale - the Final episode - Marathon Royalty

It was the supporters that got me through.  Standing at the edge of the road with the "Go Gerry Jogger!" placards: 

Nick, Kath, Kate, Bella, Ruben, Tony, Donny, Janet, Phoebe, David and, of course, my lovely wife, Lynne.

The kids, too, linking hands and squealing with delight when I sprayed them with water.  The Reggae music through Deptford in weird juxtaposition with a Northern Irish marching band.  A traditional jazz group; the melodious bongo players; the National Youth Jazz orchestra; the incredible, deafening,  synchronised drumming under the A2 fly over.  The joy and kindness in everyone's faces.  Even the drunks were lovely.  

I suspect that most of us couldn't have made it without the mist showers along the way and the wonderful firemen with their hoses.  I think I sprayed as much water to sooth my throbbing legs as I drank and it was fine to do that because I was so near the back of the pack.

In fact, there was tons of liquid but a lot of it was Lucozade and nobody seemed to want it.  The gutters were littered with thousands of discarded full and almost full bottles which had been tasted and thrown away.  The yellow flood in the gutters looked as though a herd of cows had gone by urinating as they went.

By the time we came to the Embankment I was hobbling but by then I had two beautiful young ladies, one on either side, carrying 'Go Gerry Jogger!" signs and the crowds went wild.  I think I'll have to change my name to Gerry just to please the fan club.

Everyone knows the Marathon is 26 miles but they forget the 385 yards.  I won't because when I started training with Jacqueline last September I could only run 385 yards.  

After 26 miles it's still a daunting prospect.  It's the distance from Buckingham Palace to the finishing line up towards Trafalgar Square along the Mall.  

As I turned the corner I could see the timer ticking round at seven hours 59 minutes and I just had to get there before it went to eight hours.  

I don't know where the energy came from but I managed to hobble, then heaved into a stumbling run and finally crossed the line at a reasonable sprint.  Talk about mind over matter!  

At the end it was 7 hours 59 minutes and 33 seconds and I'm as proud of those 33 seconds as I am of the whole race.


Continuing to fundraise for prostate cancer research having run the 2018 London Marathon.

Come and run with us, it might just save a life.

Friday, 6 April 2018

A Trainer’s Tale – Episode 4 – Reaching Your Peak

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…” Theodore Roosevelt

A noble sentiment that I actually disagree with. After all, sitting in the sun-drenched conservatory drinking coffee with Brian this morning involved neither effort, pain, nor difficulty, but by crikey it was worth doing.

Nonetheless I get the point.

Feeling Peaky
With Marathon day on April 22nd just over 2 weeks away, most runners will have peaked by now – that is, they’ve completed their longest runs and are now into the Taper, that final 2 to 3  weeks of recovering from training. It's a time to rest and gather strength for the event itself.

Brian completed his 18 miler on Tuesday, and although successful, it was tough and he was left with some questions. This morning’s session was a chance to celebrate progress, address concerns, and review strategy and skills for race day.

Ultra running
In his 75th year (yes 75, it’s worth repeating), he was never going beat Mo Farrah. But let’s look at that for a moment. The IAAF world record for men is 2:02:57, set by Dennis Kimetto of Kenya on September 28, 2014 at the Berlin Marathon. When I run my marathons, they’re generally between 3 and 3.5 hours. Brian was on his feet for just over 6 hours, 3 times longer than Dennis Kimetto and twice as long as me. That’s a heck of a long time to be on your feet, and you need to apply some strategies to cope with that.

Repetitive Strain (without Injury)
6 hours (and more) of repetition of anything is going to make you seize up, so anything you can do to relieve that is good. This morning Brian and I revised some dynamic stretches that you can incorporate into walking breaks, like marching, walking on tip toes or heels, ‘tin solder’ and ‘opening and closing the gate’ to stretch out the hips. Actually my favourite things on long runs are weaving a path side to side round obstacles, and also running backwards. Please note, not advised for London Marathon day, your 36,000 competitors will not thank you.

Fuel and Hydration
Hydration of choice for Brian is flat coke with a pinch of salt, job done. 

However, a question still remained over nutrition. 

Brian told me that an endurance kyaker friend of his advised him to eat bars of Twix. Far be it from me to disagree with an experienced kyaker, but I have to say I was surprised. Brian’s explanation was that it had biscuit. Erm. Ok. 🤔 On further discussion it turned out he was talking about Snickers bars. OK NOW I’m on board. Especially since up until July 19, 1990 they were marketed as Marathons. 

Twix v. Marathon for the London Marathon? Come on Brian, it’s a no brainer.

Remember your Why? A comment from Brian himself...
"I am surprised to have reached 74 and saddened that so many friends haven’t. Too many have died of cancer and prostate cancer is one of the biggest killers of men, rivalling breast cancer for women but much less well funded in terms of research spend.

That’s why I’m trying to raise money for prostate cancer research.
It is a privilege to attempt to assist with the immensely valuable work carried out by Prostate Cancer UK and I hope that you will support my staggering (strictly in the physical sense) effort."

One thing remains…
I’m going to have to write another post focusing on the mental elements of the marathon and marathon training.

But for today, let me leave you with two thoughts. Firstly, trust your training. Whatever concerns or doubts you have today or tomorrow or at the start line, you can trust in your months of effort in training. And secondly, you will succeed if you do not quit. Simple. If you remember only one thing, let it be this.

Don’t quit.

Come and run with us, it might just change your life...

Thursday, 22 March 2018

A Trainer's Tale - Episode 3 - Falling with Style

Every little helps...
The Marathon is an exceptional event for many reasons, not least because behind that one day of eventing there lies many months of hard training.

This morning, with just over 4 weeks to go, and almost 7 months of training behind us, Brian suddenly piped up, “I think I’m being a bit cavalier about this”. Hmmm. Maybe that’s one of the reasons we get on so well. I used to share that same cavalier attitude about learning to drive, or giving birth. Millions of people do it every single day, how hard can it be? Quite hard as it turns out.

Running is a great leveller, and despite our very different lives and backgrounds, throughout those months of hard training we’ve had enormous fun.

There’s the time we were sprinting – 25 seconds hard running, followed by 3 minutes recovery, times 6 – and Brian tripped over a tussock (his word not mine). I tried to catch him (honestly) as we both fell in slow motion, Brian face-planting in the mud and me falling on top of him. After I’d checked Brian was still intact, I lay on my back in the mud laughing my head off. I love my job.

Then there’s the time I got sick myself. We’d completed a tempo run round a field with a club house and had just started post-run cool-down and stretching. All of a sudden, I couldn't hold myself together any longer and sprinted round the back of the club house to throw up. “You ok to carry on stretching Brian?”, I managed to yell, in between loud barfing and laughing. “Righty ho!” came the cheery reply.

We had great fun running through the woods not so long ago. Despite the recent snowfall and lots of rain, it never really occurred to me that the path might be a little muddy. I kept saying “it’ll be drier in a minute; there’ll be less mud, honestly”. Brian started calling me Theresa (May) for my groundless positivity. Theresa, please note, it never did get any dryer. On the upside, walking and running through deep mud trying to stay upright brought out Brian’s inner 5 year old and we laughed our way through that session.

I enjoy 1 to 1 coaching immensely, it’s so much fun spending time with and getting to know all kinds of people. On a serious note, Brian’s main reason for taking on The Marathon at 75 yrs old is to raise money for prostate cancer research which he believes is tragically underfunded. Please click here to donate to The Gerry Jogger. Last September we could measure Brian's run in inches. Now he's up to 16 miles. What he's achieved already is remarkable. 

If you’re inspired and want to learn to run, please contact me at It’s fun.

And it might just change your life.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

A Trainer's Tale - Episode 2 - First Steps

On an early morning in September we set out for our first coaching session. It was 6am, it was very dark and very cold, and Brian lives on a main road with no pavement. The idea was that at 6am there wouldn’t be much in the way of traffic, so we donned our reflective vests, luminous gloves, a light-up flashing water bottle, light-up flashing heel lights, and fully charged head torches.

Dressed up like fireflies, we set out.

Warm up
The best place to start is walking. I reckon that walking is underrated in the running world. Walking at the start of a session is a brilliantly simple way of getting the blood circulating to all those muscles it needs to get to, it raises your heart rate gradually, and your brain switches on too. Even on a cold morning, see how quickly you get warm and energised!

We followed the walk with some dynamic stretches in a wooded lay-by where we could catch up on any niggles and chat through the session, whilst watching the dawn break and listening to the countryside wake up. We never missed this. It turned out to be a successful little routine that really got everything feeling flexible, alive and good to go.  

Main session
Our first session was really to see what where our starting point was. Brian mentioned that he was already up to running 2 minutes, so that’s exactly where we started. “When you’re ready Brian, off you go!”

After 90 seconds he puffed out “Are we nearly there yet?”. (I’m not mocking, I think the same thing at some point in almost every run I do). We did of course get to the 2 minutes.

Here’s the thing. The real trick with endurance running and running for life is (mostly) to learn how to run more slowly. And the way to do THAT is to shorten your stride.

Try this at home…
Just try jogging gently up and down on the spot for a minute or two. When you’re ready, start to move forward, but keep that same gentle jogging motion. Easy.

And there you have it. My top tip for running a really long way. It’s tempting to break into a faster run, a different stride, and a pace which you can’t sustain for very long (just like being back on the school sports field). But if the aim is to keep going, this is a great tool you can use to reel yourself back in to that easy comfortable pace you can sustain and enjoy.

Don’t get me wrong, 20% of training will be quicker, harder effort, longer strides etc. But for building up those long miles, go easy.

Rubbish Cool-Down
Brian has many passions, and one of them is rubbish. Specifically rubbish where there should be no rubbish. So our cool down walk included bagging every piece of trash from the hedgerows that we could find.

As I write this post, I can tell you that Brian has just completed his first TWELVE mile run. From a humble 2 minutes, at the age of 74, please feel free to be as impressed as I am.

He’s running the London Marathon to raise money for prostate cancer research which he believes is tragically underfunded.Please help in any way you can.

Come and run with us, it might just change your life.