Deadwater . . . . unfinished business!!

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I write this blog the day after it all finished. A massive congrats to the 12 finishers of Deadwater! Gutted I could not be amongst you.

What is Deadwater?

Run by the company Beyond Marathon – Deadwater by race director Richard, this is a 6 day, multi-stage event.  You begin by running from a place called Deadwater, yep it exists on the Scottish/English border, it is an old dis-used railway station, to 1.5 miles shy of the Welsh border in Chester.  It is all of 225 miles, each day is an A to B route,  all of which are ultra-marathons. Relatively self-sufficient, you carry the majority of your kit with hot water, drinking water and tents all supplied, as are maps (GPX as well).

Copied from Beyond Marathon website

It is a race description that draws in any runner that thrives on challenge, adventure, seeing the English countryside and being surrounded by like-minded individuals who get it! We get why we put ourselves at what can be described as misery at times, you question yourself, you question whether your mind and body can take anymore and then you keep going.  Who on earth does that?  Ultra-runners!

My Experience – Albeit a brief one:
Could I be less Prepared?

Registration was on Friday 28th July 2017 in Keilder Forest at the campsite. I headed down from sunny Dundee, relatively lovely morning to get me started and I thought, “yasss this is a great start”. Easy train rides got me all the way to Hexham train station and there the comfort stopped. Enroute to Hexham train station I realised I had left practically all my rations for the week at home!!! I mean how stupid could you get?! I would normally panic in this situation but I stayed calm, how could I rectify this, what options were available to me right now?IMG_2869

Hexham was probably too small to be off any use

Google maps outdoor stores

I needed dehydrated food for 6 days and snacks for daytime.

Back to Newcastle it was, so I basically walked straight over to the other side of the station and jumped on the next train to Newcastle. I would have been in dire straights if we had not been approximately 20 mins out.  But I knew that I had until 7pm (last pick-up to the campsite) and I was there in plenty time for first pick-up.

Go Outdoors was the main store in the town centre, straight there and practically cleared them out of specific dehydrated foods, unfortunately it was a make I had never used before but it was the only viable one I had from their store. Next up I needed a Tesco or supermarket to get the rest of my snacks/food. Luckily I had brought my food lists with me and used this to whiz around the store picking up a second batch of food, I only needed minimal adjustments due to specific items being unavailable.

Can you believe I made it back to Hexham in time for the first pick-up? No me either! Owen, Patrick (a fellow OCR racer) and Ivan shared the taxi to the registration campsite.

Registration

This was the most impressive kit-check I have ever had! Is that because I haven’t done enough races of this size? I don’t know but nevertheless, Tom and Darren were thorough and checked EVERY item on the mandatory kit list and informed us waterproof trousers,

due to conditions, had been changed from optional to mandatory, as well as a second long-sleeved layer. This would prove essential in the conditions we were facing.

Then into the hut, we met Janet, we registered our names, received our trackers, ordered food for the meal at the end and received a map protector and Day 1 map.

We were the first few to arrive and register, others started to trickle in. At this point I found out that only 18 people were making the start line if they all arrived! OMG! That was scary, I love the smaller races but this scared me as it reinforced that I was likely to be on my own a lot and I am not the most confident at navigation.  I need to sort this out! But I felt better that we had trackers on constantly and would be contacted if we went off route or we could phone Rich if needed to get us back on track.

(From 45 possible entries down to what I thought was 28 in the final few weeks and is small enough as it was, it had apparently fallen further.)

I was relatively quiet at this point, just observing, taking it all in.

Again, that fear that everyone is more experienced than I, that they all sound like they’ve managed to recce the route, they have prepped better than me.  All these are simply magnified concerns and based on fear, not reality.

Jo and I headed for the females tent, getting in was like the Krypton factor, this did not change and would prove to be a huge source of amusement (it’s the small things).

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Pre-run Feast

The weather we received on this day was to prove an indicator of things to come, wet, wet, wet, winds, did I say wet? As evening came in the sun did emerge and we managed to enjoy a sliver of sunshine and a break in the clouds around mealtime.

 

 

 

Day 1 – The Forest20641397_10210530313962204_1939068621_o

Expected: 29 miles

Actual: 33.7 miles

Time taken: 7 hours 08 mins

We were ferried to the start area, where we could take the obligatory photos of the border. We then moved to the actual start line a short walk away. We had to run back along a trail that was the old Deadwater railway line to the campsite we had just left. It’s always good to hear some cheers, these came from other campers and of course the old cow bell is just brilliant!

We were following a trail sign posted by bananas – yes you really did read that correctly. How awesome and novel haha.  I was pretty pleased each time I came upon a banana excitedly announcing “there’s the banana”. (It’s definitely the small things)

We followed the lakeside for several miles, viewing some pretty awesome views to be honest but it was just too wet to pull out my mobile or my camera. They are forever consigned to my memory.

It was at a point alongside the reservoir, I saw some of the other runners going over a road crossing which seemed to contradict my direction of movement.  I backtracked until I bumped into Charl and a few others who said that I was in fact on the correct path.  Together we carried on and got directly onto the right track, each key point brought back a recollection from the race briefing. It was nice moving forward with others, I tended to be with Charl for a lot of the next section before breaking off a little.

This section was mainly track up to checkpoint 2 at 19 miles before it turned into road. We had a route change due to forestry works, which meant a long section on road, it hurt the feet and the legs.  These roads were incredibly quiet but had water running down a lot of them with the rain we were getting.  I thought I’d had my fill of weather at the West Highland Way race. Heading into Gilsland, we were getting a lift 6 miles along Hadrian Wall to the point we would have come out on the original track to cover the last 1 mile to camp. It was not far.

My aches and pains were in full flow when I reached Gilsland, it really was affecting how I was feeling about my capabilities in the race. I questioned myself and whether I had been stupid to start this race. I ached from head to toe, a lot of it featured around the niggles I had had in the West Highland Way. The pack was heavy as day 1 was fullest it was going to be and Day 4.  I was warm enough but definitely soaked through. On reflection I don’t know if this is just a rite of passage I have to endure on multi-stage events – day one aches/ adjustments to the pack, it has been the same on others.

Something to consider both from a mental and physical perspective. My lower back was covered in welts, from my bag we think – the medics were great: Jono and Sue from Trailmed.  Not just looking at what was bothering us but how to reduce the impact moving forwards for the week.

The campsite had a great drying room, this was brilliant to get our kit dried of for Day 2. I was shattered, not hungry, this could be a problem for my energy levels but I had a

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Day 1 Camp

quick kip which was miraculous in its powers! I woke up after my kip and was able to move, deep squat, move around camp = I felt great. . . .  well nearly haha.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – The Pennine Way

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Day 2 – Partial Recording

Expected: 36 miles

Actual: 37 miles

Time Taken: 11hours 28 mins

This was a tough day at the office, we knew we would be hitting the highest point of the course, the previous evening we had been told there may be a route change due to weather conditions. There was predicted thunder and lightening for the top of Cross Fell, fortunately this changed and we could stay on the designated route. It just seemed like “oh more rain – fabulous”.

We started in sunshine, it was so nice, we headed across the the fields, we hit the dreaded ‘field of cows’. After the first half of the group crossed the fields, the cows decided to thunder straight across between us. They got to the other side, great we started nervously forward but then they decided to head back, none of us wanted to get 20629991_10210530328282562_1807931261_oin the way. We got a teeny tiny bit lost but not lost haha.  Anyway, we got out of that situation, always good to be with others in this scenario. We were quickly on track, but not before I got my first warning – rolled that right ankle slightly in the field but easily ran this off.  But as in the MDS it set my nerve off for the next 15 miles or so.  It was in these stages that I realised Jo was really struggling with her knee, it looked really sore.

We were then on the cycle path all the way to Alston, we met the first checkpoint along the cycle path.  It was flat and surrounded by lovely scenery, great for distracting you.  I spoke to a lot of people along this way which was really nice after not really meeting anyone the previous day.  I was around a couple of other lads at this point but we separated into individuals as we were moving.  My nerve was still firing on all cylinders, nerve pain travelling up and down my right leg, my little ones were lumps in my shoe, I was aware they were there but that was it.  The muscles were stiffening up as I progressed but I was trying my best to stay loose. At Alston we crossed the railway line and I was again stopped and asked what wee were up to, randomly the fella had family in Glasgow, Glenrothes and the surrounding area – small world!

We were now on the Pennine Way all the way to Garrigil, this again was a lovely scenery.  The aim was to get as far as possible on this day before the weather came in. At one point I thought I had come off track, so back-tracked to the last acorn (Pennine Way symbol) but met Charl and Gaz.  I hadn’t actually gone of track, I was in the right area but with all the sheep tracks it was a case of picking the correct track to carry on.  It was nice being with the. Guys again, it always boosts the spirits. Charl can move at a cracking pace with his poles, my wee short legs had to work hard to keep up!

A good check in at checkpoint 2 for the day with Janet, Sue (medic) checking in with us all. My collarbones had started to get really sore and uncomfortable with the bag weight so I stretched off.  The medics were really good at getting you to think about what we had done previously for issues and what had worked which is important when you are tired and possibly not thinking clearly.  Charl and I headed off for the climb with Janet wishing us well and hopefully little weather on Cross Fell.

100 yards or so down the road and the rain started, that was quick.  But we had done well in terms of our progress for the day. I was keen to see Gregs Hut, Charl had described it to me the previous day and I was keen to see this fantastic place shelter from the elements. Before we even got to the shelter the weather was really coming in, we both had full waterproofs on. We were quite exposed throughout, it was windy and wet but still relatively warm.  I had my shorts on for most of this part leading up to Gregs Hut until the last little bit. We took shelter here for 5-10 mins to get out of the elements and eat something, I added another layer at this point as we were going to become more and more exposed.

If it were not for Charl I would have struggled, the path was virtually nonexistent, it was boggy and quickly your feet were soaked through, I was glad for my trail shoes choice today.  The cloud cover had come in and took away our visibility, the advice of following the cairns was impossible as you could not see the next one from the one you were at. I drove on following the shadowing of Charl disappearing in the cloud. We quickly moved over the boggy top and started heading down the other side and this is where I came a cropper – my right ankle rolled on a tuft of grass. I knew instantly this was diffferent from most of those ankle rolls that you can run off.  It hurt instantly, a sharp pain over the lateral part of my ankle.  After an instant I just kept moving, limping from one clump to another but kept having to pause due to the pain. I knew this was different but I was also aware there really wasn’t any way of the hill except on my own feet.  Charl had noticed I was struggling and stopped to wait, I have to say he was brilliant, he got me to put my ankle/ foot under a running stream and any water deep enough to cover my ankle on the way down to help keep swelling down and allow me to keep going.

As we were heading for the the masts where Richard had said he would try to get to to meet us if we needed any spare water. As we moved across Little Dun Fell and up to Great Dun Fell the cloud had periods of clearing.  It was truly amazing to be up there and see it, stunning.  20641454_10210530322642421_443257698_oWe could literally lean into the wind and not fall over, it was strong and I was struggling to walk in a straight line. Since I rolled my ankle we still had approximately 7 or so miles to go to camp, I really believe getting my ankle in the stream, and having company made the difference. I had to walk the majority of the remainder miles but we got there eventually.

I was shattered and in pain but made it which is what matters, the medics apparently thought I was looking a bit grey but I think I was just tired and sore. Everyone rallied round to help, Hayley (my tent mate) got my sleeping bag out and sorted things, Jono helped me with my pack and food and Sue had a look at my ankle. Remarkably I walked into camp not too badly despite my ankle.  I had an awful nights sleep, in fact I’m not sure you could call it sleep – I was sore, both my knee and my ankle disturbing me every time I tried to turn. The rain was hammering of the tents all night.

I woke on day 3 struggling to walk properly, Anna did her best to convince me to start the day and see.  I also met Sue and realised she was right , it wasn’t going to get any better. I didn’t want to break my body down doing this race, I was risking the rest of my year. It was the right decision, but it’s not an easy decision, it seems like giving up and I don’t give up.

I have unfinished business with Deadwater and in true Arnie style, Ill be back! This was my first race with Richard at Beyond Marathin and I would not hesitate to recommend his events based on this very short experience. The marshalls, medics and attention to detail by Richard made this race. A thought has to go to the marshalls who have the raw end of the deal with the weather, they have to stand out there while we at least are moving. Yet they never fail to stay positive, cheer you on, give you tips, ask the right questions. It makes the difference.

I feel a bit of a con even writing a blog on a def but it was truly an experience as wanted others to hear about and highly recommend. As I say at the start of this blog, it is the people you meet, like-minded people are incredibly energising by their very nature. You spend perhaps part of day, a run with these guys but they nevertheless impact on you, you have a shared experience and it is always interesting.  I always come away from these races so chuffed with who I meet, the memories created and experience.  More and more it reinforces the importance of appreciating the journey.

 

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Finish Line on Day 2 Photo Credit: Jonny Davies

6 years in the Making

Photo credit: Lucja Leonard

It is quite surreal sitting here being able to write this blog.  I wasn’t sure I would ever get here (that may be a wee lie, I’ve learnt never to doubt my conviction and determination – maybe the question was when?):

How did I get here?  

Six years ago I injured my leg playing rugby, a completely random injury – a tackle directly to the nerve in my lower leg.   I was in a lot of pain (approximately on scale of 7-8 out of 10 daily) this impacted on my ability to be active.  For a period I questioned whether I would be able to continue being active.  Think of it like:  shooting pains down my leg, pins and needle sensations repeatedly, electric shocks, numbness – these would repeat every hour, multiple times within the hour.

This was a devastating consideration when activity and exercise are  my work and my stress management tool.  I eliminated lots of sports, the list was getting very short, unfortunately running became my sport hahaha.  I say unfortunately, it has been a lifesaver. Irnoically my first blog was named – ‘I hate running . . . ‘.

To help me stick with running, I knew I would need a BIG goal.  Well, I heard about the West Highland Way Race and immediately knew this was it – my goal –

Complete the West Highland Way in 23 hours ie finish on the same day I start.

West Highland Way Effort 2017

Fast forward 6 years and here we are, two weeks on . . .

The day after, I was ecstatic that I could get off the toilet without having to hold on and pull myself up while making noises (you know so no faces!!!)

There were so many considerations leading up to the 1am start, it throws the newbie that

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Photo credit: Karen Brown

this is not a normal time to start a race, but then there is nothing normal about this epic race.  I was pretty nervous heading to registration, it’s always the same with new events, it seems like everyone knows everyone but I spotted some familiar faces (Sharon, Jeni and crew).  Registration itself was very smooth and easy to follow, blown away with the jacket in my goodie bag . . . karen threatening to steal it while Im out on the course (it had to be purple hahaha).  We headed to the car for some last minute relaxation and just closing my eyes for quiet time. But not before Captain Coo also received his band, weigh-in prepped for his race also.

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Photo credit: Karen Brown

(Just in case you’re wondering, Captain Coo is Munro Primary Schools newest recruit #schoolmascot )

The nerves ramped up at the race briefing and the guys left me to get a good spot to try to see me run through.  Before you knew it we were running through the tunnel, it was pretty awesome, the cheers, cowbells, support along the high street.  Then it was all about settling in, I thought it would take ages for us all to thin out but it happened within 1 – 1.5 miles.  This first section to Drymen was great just being able to check off the points I remembered from my recce. It felt like each memory was being ticked off quicker than I had anticipated but I wasn’t going any quicker than I should have been.  I felt good, it was great seeing people spotted throughout the course encouraging us on, I hadn’t expected this, the time of night and because of the surrounding built up areas.

I stuck to my nutrition plan, eating every hour, even though the temptation was to just push on because I was feeling so fresh.  I met my crew for the first time at Drymen in the field, big G spotted me, giving me a wee shout.  They told me they would be wearing flashing bunny ears (G) and the other would be a walking rave (Karen), I was. Little disappointed that there was only fluorescent flashing lights. We took the time to top up my water, exchange snacks for the next stage that I might need and ate some more food as well.  We had agreed in advance that I would be given an update on my timing and where we were relative to my where I needed to be to hit my target of 23 hours.  I’d also leave with the next sections distance to help me stay focused on the here and now, I had learnt from previous big races that I find it overwhelming to keep the full distance in my head at all times.

Despite the moody weather, the big black clouds hovering as the light came in, the scenery was stunning!  As I rounded the corner behind Conic Hill, looking out on Loch Lomond, I was again, despite the poor light, blown away by its beauty.  The small islands look like the humps of what could be the Loch Ness Monster  . . .  and no I wasnt hallucinating haha.

Just before Conic Hill I was able to take off my headtorch, it certainly was not as bad as the first time I took on the hill in a recce.  It passed quickly due to the memories I had from that day:

‘I remember pushing up the hill on a stunner of a day, glorius sunshine, not a cloud in the sky.  There were lots of folks out that day, I caught up with some young-ish kids who were out with their mums.  They were playing rock-paper-scissors, I was amused by this and it distracted me from my sore quads.  The young lad just kept playing the same hand everytime, this went on for ages.  I asked what the score was – it was a draw 😉  I think it remained a draw no matter what.  I got speaking to them, the wee man wanted to chuck himself off the hill into the water, you know, the hill was THAT bad, they had been walking for aaaaages!! Hahaha he was very dramatic but clearly having a good time and being distracted by his sister.  With words of encouragement, I pushed on that day exchanging jokes with the mums as I passed’.

I tempered my pace coming down the other side of Conic Hill, I didn’t want to burn out my quads this early in the race.  I was happy to meet G as I was coming down the last wee section, we came down to the car park and I was shocked to see everyone standing at the checkpoint.  I must have looked so ungrateful for the cheering/ support.  I dibbed in, I couldn’t get my head around, in that moment, why people were cheering for me as I came in.  Of course, I would do the same for anyone on a race, so I dont know why I was suprised, I think the early hour was still throwing my expectations for this race.

G guided me to the car which was really helpful, I grabbed a seat, changed my tops, on went my RAW Dryrobe, this let me dry of my sweaty jacket.  Karen drilled me with multiple questions about what I needed and then supplied in quick order.  G became a french chef, and apparently had also developed a spanish accent – who knew! Scrambled eggs became the order of the morning – they tasted awesome. It was funny looking around, seeing what everyone else was doing, some were in and out in minutes, these types of things make me question my own strategy even though I should know better than to compare myself to others. I was obviously sleepy, trying to drink my cuppa through my midgie net, this was the only section I was aware of midgie but know the crew had it worse with more standing around.

Balmaha to Rowerdennan

This was my awful section, I left the Oak Tree Inn car park feeling great, Karen ran me down to the road, she was chief photographer as well. #everyoneneedsakaren #multipleroles

I was hit with waves of tiredness, not in the sense that my body felt tired but purely from a ‘I should be sleeping’ feeling.  They just kept coming, I didnt know how to deal with these – definitely something to work on for the future.  I started having stomach issues, from feeling nausea to cramps, sometimes I could run through it but most of the time I couldn’t. Then the waves of tiredness would kick in again.  I think part of this was the low light due to the clouds and dull day, which made it harder to feel like it was daytime.

I’ve never been so grateful for seeing my support crew, it was here that they made the first of their massive impacts on my race.  G’s constant check-ins so that he could update Karen and then asking ‘how can we fix this’ really helped to focus on the solutions rather than the problem.  A real cup of tea, a ton of jaffa cakes, maybe a few other things I cant remember.  This little blip also didnt stop them from getting the right information to me. Because of my stomach I hadnt managed to eat much on this section, so they sorted my water (this was at least going well) and drilled me about my food.

I left with ‘get a couple of good sections in and EAT!’  It wasnt ideal that I wouldnt be seeing these guys for 3.5 hours.

Rowardennan to Beinglas Farm

Rowardennan to Inversnaid along the lower section next to the Loch was great.  I accepted that you wouldn’t maintain the same pace as on the trails but this brought me alive.  This section had a bit of everything in it, each time I came out of a technical section where I had to concentrate, onto the trail I would be hit with the waves of tiredness.  I got into Inversnaid, the marshalls were once again fab.  Always cheery, always with a wee joke and checking that you are alright on the other hand (clearly a lover of the hula hoop variety).

Did the essentials: emptied stones out of shoes, tied alittle tighter, Packed the food from my drop bag into my pockets, topped up the water, deep breaths and of I went.  I was looking forward to this section, the only part I had not recce’d.

This section did not let me down. I absolutely loved this part, which appears contrary to most other reports.  Again, this brings me alive, I love pushing on on these sections. Very stony section, some clambering involved, I think I was more careful than normal as I wanted to save my ankle for the rest of the race and not do myself some damage. I still had a wee hop, skip and a jump in my step on this section.  It felt good to be actually moving, to feel like I was moving.  I caught up with a young man and we stayed together for a bit.  I can’t believe I never caught anyones name during this event – tut tut, but he was telling of his fantastic progress from knee injury to the race.

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Photo credit: Karen Brown

This was a great confidence boost section for me, it was a nice feeling to come out at the end of the loch. Beinglas Farm checkpoint was a good one, I was feeling tired still but definitely more awake.  G once again, told me the script with where I needed to go to dib in and then where they were based.  At this point Karen and G tried to get some more solid food and energy into me . . good ole swig of coke aparently brought colour to my cheeks.  This is where I had started to feel my IT band in and around my hip.

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Photo credit: Karen Brown

Thankfully I brought my trusty spiky ball with me, Karen sorted out my comfort and a good bit of easing this off helped.  Great banter going on between the crews which distracted me.

Beinglas through Auchtertyre to Bridge of Orchy

With a change of shoes, full top half change, I set off on my way to the ‘half way point’.  I like this next section it is beautiful, lots of waterfalls and just flowing rivers, its beautiful.  Again I felt like I was checking off the memories I’d created on my recce, it seemed to pass all too quickly.  It is a lovely downhill through the forest toward Auchtertyre, again I enjoy this section, this was affected by my increasing problem with my IT band which had now shift into my knee.

G met me again and ran me in, guiding me to where I needed to be.  First up was my weigh-in, where I was told I had dropped to my allowance already.  I couldnt believe it

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Photo credit: Karen Brown

because I didnt feel I could have done anything else to improve this situation.  Well G took away the ‘feed me’ with gusto haha.  Some TLC for my IT band, heard about a mishap with the gas cooker the crew had had, this was enough to distract me.

G and I were soon off for the next phase, what a massive difference it makes having someone run with you. I was super glad to have company, I definitely ran further than I would have on my own with my sore knee becoming an increasing problem.

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Photo credit: Lucja Leonard

We met Lucja at Tyndrum with salty chips, hell yeah, they were immense and it was real nice to see her before we properly got underway.  This section was one of changeable weather, rain, increasingly stronger winds and sunshine.  G did a great job of keeping me going, I took over the lead on the downhill section because I tend to be faster and only had to slow up when the pain in my knee just took over. We kept crossing places with a couple of lads but had to let them go on as I was in agony and struggling to walk never mind anything else.  G came to the rescue with his massage skills, right on that spot! I’d highly recommend his skills.

Many will recognise the pain of It band problems, it was frustrating as I was sure this is what it was.  The pain you feel just doesn’t seem to represent the seriousness of the injury/ problem in the relativity scale which is frustrating in and of itself.  The pain laterally piercing me knee repeatedly brought me to a halt, I would stumble through as much as possible, G was working real hard to keep me going, no way I was stopping if I could make the next point.

We broke the route up into sections that I would run – walk, G took the hit on the wind where he could but the closer we got to Bridge of Orchy the more the wind began swirling.  Absolute superstar, always positive, pushing me just enough to get the most from me in achievable bursts.

Bridge of Orchy (BoO) to Glencoe Ski Resort

At BoO I dibbed in again to the cheery words of the marshalls. I didn’t do much at BoO, it was quite an exposed checkpoint with the weather coming in but also with the car being parked away from where we met.  G did a handover with Lucja in terms of where I was at, Karen sorted me out in terms of food and fluids and checked if there was anything I needed.

We didn’t stop long, Lucja took me off up the hill with the promise of Jelly Baby hill, now as a first-timer, it’s all a bit confusing.  What on earth?!

We marched, Lucja may disagree with this word haha, up the hill, moving at a pace I could sustain.  I was pretty much feeling pain in my knee uphill and downhill but with adjustments in pace I could keep going.  Lucja was great at speaking away keeping me distracted, I had known I wouldn’t be running out of BoO when I did my recce, I kept trying to push my pace so as not to feel I was too slow, I have to confess to many a time worrying I was going to slow and letting my support crew down.  Do others feel this way? Or do you just accept that they are there for you?

I met Murdo (I really hope I quoted the right name???)  on Jelly Baby hill, now I knew. What a glorious sight at the top of the hill, jelly babies, smiles, flags and naturally he checked I was being looked after.  We ploughed on, into the wind, I was feeling a little hesitant for the downhill coming, the complete opposite of my normal downhill reaction (normally I’d be doing a wee dance). We started downhill, I think you would call my run more of a hobble, a skip and step over and around the stones/ corners. We made it to the bottom, I’d earned a walk period again. I’d hoped being on the tarmac would be a bit of a relief, we broke it up with walk- runs and caught up on runs, future runs and of course Gobi.

We arrived at the entrance to Rannoch Moor, with the trail on the left to Loch Etive.  This’ll give you a chuckle and I think I laugh myself every time I arrive at this point:

‘During my recce, which I was doing back to front ie Glencoe Ski Resort to BoO, the signage is a shocker going in the opposite direction for a ‘well-marked’ path.  Anyway, obviously my fault but I ended up waaaaaay too far down that track, but with beautiful scenery and wildlife.’

‘The second time I recce’d this section, in the correct direction I might add, at this point on the left in the forest there was a young deer munching away, completely oblivious to the fact we were all awestruck with his beauty.’

This is the straw that  .  .  .  .  . almost broke the camels back ie my leg. How so much can change in such a short time!

I knew my leg was becoming more and more of a problem, I hated the ground underfoot in this section, I was never comfortable on it and I also found it difficult to gauge how far along we were after a while but that could be tiredness more than anything.  We kept trying the walk – run method but that quickly became impossible with the pain it was causing.  It was affecting my ability to bend my knee to lift my foot high enough over the embedded stones, I kept trying to find the smoothest section to walk on but often these were so narrower I’d be tripping over the edges and that in itself affected my movement and knee.  I couldn’t win.

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Photo credit: Lucja Leonard

The weather was in, rain, wind, yes there was even moments of sunshine.  Sideways rain, battering our left hand side, I swear my right hand side was pretty dry until closer to Glencoe. Putting one foot in front of the other – I could do that! Finally we spotted G waiting for us, he took us to dib in, they kindly asked how we were doing. Actually, at the very point, I felt not too bad. But that very quickly changed. Karen, Lucja and I headed for the toilets to get changed were told about the drying room – OMG what an invention! This was fantastic, Karen pretty much stripped me and dressed me while Lucja dried herself under the hand dryer. But I started to feel sick and actually thought I was going to be sick, we hurried over to the toilets but I wasn’t actually sick.

We went to find G who had started to worry about where we had gotten lost, apparently it took 40mins for all of the above to take place and he was feeling like a weirdo holding seats for people who never seemed to appear hahaha.

The guys were buying me food, encouraging me to eat, I managed to get down most of my soup in the cafe but struggled with anything else.  I was feeling ridiculously nauseous and sick, it just wouldn’t settle. I know they were worried – I could tell by the looks on their faces. We knew my time goal was out, I was a bit of a mess and now know I probably can’t really grasp how I looked or the impact this was having on them.  We went through a list if possible ways to move forwards, this included going for a 30 minute kip, with my time goal out, I had time to do this without having to pull out completely.  It also meant even if I didn’t feel better I could pull out at that stage having tried the options.

I slept, I ached to start with, felt sick and couldn’t switch off to sleep at first despite being knackered. Then I was out, then I was awake the next second – or so it seemed. G woke me up  and we headed back to the cafe, it was very busy, full of walkers and runners. My RAW dryrobe was amazing during this period keeping me warm.  I was informed by hawk eye G that I must eat a decent meal to carry on, then I was told I needed to layer up more.  The guys were still worried and I’m super sorry to have put them through that worry. I dutifully did as I was told and to be honest I felt much better, my knee was sore but it felt slightly better since my sleep.

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Photo credit: Graeme Maxwell

They agreed I could go on, we had decided pre-race that I needed to let my crew make some decisions for me when or if I I was deemed not able. This was one of those scenarios.  I trusted them wholeheartedly to make the right decision based on the information in front of them. It was my constant worry that I was placing too much pressure on them and asking too much of my crew.

Glencoe Ski Resort to Kinlochleven

We decided I could go on with multiple layers, I believe everyone was being told to put waterproofs on anyway.  So I left Glencoe with a vest, running t-shirt, running long-sleeved top, my new running jacket, my normal running jacket and G’s amazing tent waterproof haha, plus hat, buff, gloves and multiple hoods.  We were good to go, we had also accepted I probably couldn’t run much, if at all with all the pain in my knee.  It had developed into pain on two areas at the back of my knee and laterally on the knee. But walking down the entrance drive to the ski resort and I felt my knee wasn’t as bad as when I had stopped.

I told G we could try running a bit along the tarmaced sections to Kingshouse hotel – it worked! Get IN!! I was pleased as I knew when we went off road again it was likely I wouldn’t be able to. At the back of the hotel G pointed out a deer crossing the river, pretty amazing to see, then another deer popped out behind the bridge, simply stunning to see these guys in the area.  We also spotted a small herd over by some trees, I love this, it make being in nature, the trails worth all the runs.  We overtook some folks as we headed along the bottom to the Devils Staircase, we were walking at a decent pace.  Head down, one foot in front of the other, this was again a confidence boost, small as that may be but I’ll take that as a small win along the way. Karen and Lucja met us at the bottom of the staircase just to do a last check to make sure I was okay.   Thumbs up!

We headed up the staircase, I felt bad for G, this wasn’t how we had recce’d this section. G was a master on the hills, he had tenacity and just plots on, exactly why I knew he was the best guy for me on this section. We were walking, G leading so that all I had to do was follow.  Apparently, I didn’t do that very well either, oops!

500 m from the top there was a sign for a cafe at the top, surely a joke right? Apparently not, we had a laugh at this, over the top I ate, G regularly checked I was drinking and eating. I think we had a wee jog down the other side, it was hard. We had slipped into our usual patter when running/ walking together, calling out any obstacles, points to note, this is how we roll and we generally extend this same courtesy to anyone beside us as well.  It work S for us, good communication helps each of us to take the best path to our goal.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t take advantage of the great downhill into Kinlochleven, I was also feeling that I could literally fall asleep on my feet, insert the ‘alphabet game’, great distraction. We had agreed I needed to be open and upfront when I wasn’t feeling great so that the guys could help me rather than trying to bang on quietly.  It was fantastic to reach Kinlochleven with an indoor checkpoint, weigh-in – my weight was back up – superb!

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Photo credit: Karen Brown

I sat down and caught up with Karen, G did a hand over again, I got 10 mins nap while the others had a laugh at my expense. I woken with some amazing noodles!

Kinlochleven to Lundavra

Lucja was up next, it was a long climb out of Kinlochleven, we climbed and climbed, got a little lost but managed to get quickly on track again.  It was over to the Larig Mor, I thought we had seen the worst of the weather but no, at points we were literally stopped dead in our tracks by the wind, most the tracks had turned into mini streams with the rainfall. Thankfully I had worked out if the weather was bad that this section would be a wet one – trail shoes were a good bet. We had given up talking because it was impossible to hear each other. So it was heids down and just keep going. It just seemed to go on and on for ever, we were over the weather and that section.

19727067_10210233917832486_1644814496_oLundavra to Lochaber Sports Centre (Finish)

Karen had the final shift, she was very positive and full of energy despite having also been up for hours within only small amounts of sleep.  As we walked along every so often I’d catch my foot and she would turn to ensure I was still standing.  When I look back, it feels like we got through the last section well but I know it didnt feel like that at the time.  When we arrived at the final downhill section in Fort William I was keen to try a little run – walking – what a waste not to run downhill.

I couldn’t do it, it was simply too painful, with the pain now coming in at the back of my knee. So, to the finish line it was to be a hobble – to experience crossing the finish line, I was happy with that.

Not how I wantedt but theres time for that . . .

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Photo credit: taken by finish line photographer on mobile.

Challenging the Status Quo

Here is part 2 of Jane W’s instalment of my ‘Women In Sport’ blog series.  Every day I am in a superb position to bear witness to the phenomenal achievements of my clients.  I can keep writing or just let you get stuck in, I finished reading this myself with a smile on my face!  What do you think?

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‘Sport and activities can often be considered to be for those of a ‘younger generation’ – what would be your thoughts on this?

Well to be honest I think physical activity should be for all ages,  all abilities and all genders.  We should be working towards removing barriers for everyone. Because the benefits are huge in terms of physical and mental well being.  And it must be cheaper than prescribing drugs or hospital treatments.   I started mountain biking and canoeing in my mid forties as a single parent.  As  females entering some of these sports we werP1080719e in a minority.  As a female single parent taking her daughter off on multi day challenges without professional intervention I was sometimes viewed as reckless! But my daughter and I have had immense pleasure through doing these kind of shared activities and have worked as a team to, for example go off mountain biking in the Cairngorms. I’m good at logistics and she is great at navigation having done her D.O.E certificates. And as a result of commencing these sports I am now fitter and healthier than I was in my 20s.

When I was younger I thought that all I had to do was to keep active and eat well in order to maintain fitness..  I now realise that there is a lot more to it than that.  All round strength and not just power in a part of your body is important. You may have higher lower body strength from running but less upper body strength for example. In my case I was very one sided as I had been carrying a lot of heavy weights on the right side of my body whilst working. That lead to back problems. I also wasn’t picking the weights up properly. I got away with this for a long time but seemed to lose a lot of flexibility around the time of my menopause and as a result sustained a number of injuries.  I am now working hard with the help of my personal trainer, Louise PT4U, to improve this situation. In fact I am now way more aware of good posture; healthy eating; balanced strength and flexibility and hydration as a result of going for regular training sessions.

Why aren’t we all taught good posture and how to lift things at school?

It seems like common sense. So I have come to realise that it isn’t just about keeping moving but the manner in which you move your body, in order to do sport;   hoover the carpet; wash the car;  split logs for the fire etc. etc.  So I am taking this on board as I intend to keep on doing sport for as long as possible.

 

As part of my personal training routine my coach, Louise,

20170513_113131encouraged me to set some goals to work towards.So as it was my 50th birthday earlier this year I decided to set goals with the numbers five and zero in. So it went something like this;

Goal 1 – To swim 50 lengths without stopping, had only ever previously got to 20.  So I managed to achieve this one in late February.

 

 

Goal 2 – To cycle over 500 miles in one go.  I finally got to 509 after taking a trip out to the Outer Hebrides in May. When there I cycled most of the Heb Way, crossing over 8 islands and having some fantastic experiences in one of the remotest places in the UK. And then carried on through Skye and a route round North Mull then back onto the West Coast of mainland Scotland.

 

 

 

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Goal – 3 To paddle 5 solo Canadian canoe trips. This one has morphed a bit. I was asked 5 weeks ago by an outdoor education instructor, Piotr from Outdoor Explore, if I would accompany him on ‘the old green kayak challenge’. This consisted of paddling over 50 miles (53 to be exact) down the River Tay from Killin on the far side of Loch Tay to the beech hedge at Meiklour. 14 hours, 8 Ospreys and 1 beaver later we had made it. That was the hardest and most difficult challenge to date and I had to dig really deep mentally to complete it.

 

 

I’ll be setting myself another goal shortly.

This stuff has been really helpful. It has given a context to my training and has helped me to stay focused and positively motivated.  And even when I have been facing  the outcome of medical diagnoses for joint issues, it has helped me to concentrate on what I can do rather than what I have been told by the medical profession that I should not do.  And with every challenge ticked off and done comes a greater sense of self confidence and amazement at what my body can still achieve at age 50, with the right training and a bit of TLC from myself!’

 

 

 

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Ending on a Fail?

It kinda feels like an omen for 2017 doesnt it?!

It is always my hope that what I have been doing helps someone, one person is enough to make a difference.  One person impacts the people around them, the knock-on or domino effect.  As for the Marathon des Sables, many ask why should people pay for me to go and have fun, to go and do events I wouldn’t normally afford.  This is about so much more than running in events, it is raising the profile, raising awareness of a charity/charities and some monies.  It is doing something that some see as impossible, a massive stretch to the human body.

Without the support of those who have donated, given their time, their conscious effort to make a difference and to help I would not have gotten as far as I did.  It is with great sadness and a feeling of letting others down, of failing my charities, that I say I did not manage to secure sufficient funds to attempt this challenge – #80degrees.  However, I am very grateful to the sponsors for trusting me to secure the funds to enter the event in January 2018 – I have a goal.

In addition to my friends, clients and those sponsors, a big mention must go to Vickie Saunders.  Vickie is behind The Sponsorship Consultants, they work with individuals such as myself and but also many top level athletes.  Vickie has been instrumental in shaping my perspective on sponsorship.  She has shown me and illustrated that all is not as it seems.    You do not have to be the winner of every race, you do not need to be or have to be a household name to secure sponsorship.  Vickie has taught me a huge amount about connecting with teh right people, that everyone has worth and connects with others, thank you!

#80degrees (My name for the challenge) was meant to be my next challenge to further raise awareness of the fantastic work carried out by DAMH (Dundee Association for Mental Health) and SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health).

These two events are run by David Scott through his company Sandbaggers – check them out if you are looking for something different. An 80 degree turnaround!

Running through the Namibian desert in +40 degrees with a second marathon at -40

degrees in Outer Mongolia.  The mental strength, capacity and determination to do these types of challenge mimics real life.  My experience in the Sahara is testament to this.  I have tried to ultilise and speak of my own experiences with mental health to demonstrate that those who face these challenges do not always fall into the stereotypical ideas that society has.

Mental health challenges and welbeing affects people from all walks of life.  We bounce back and sometimes we don’t so quickly (By the way this is not a reach out – Im all good).

I have much to keep me busy in the coming year, so this is a failure?

No, it is an opportunity to grow, refelct, evaluate and improve my approach to come back stronger and more knowledgeable.  If you would like to keep up to date, I will endeavour to be better at posting my blogs.  I am being published by Positively Scottish so keep an eye out on there also.

Whats coming up:

My Marathon des Sables experiences

My prep for #80degrees

Training for the West Highland Way (June 2017)

Deadwater (July – Aug 2017)

Finally but by no means least, a huge THANK YOU to my sponsors who have stayed on board to ensure we can continue to raise the profile of DAMH and SAMH.

Heal Physiotherapy                                                  Carol S & Kay L and many more fundraising

Bloc eyewear                                                               Murroes Primary School

Icebug UK/                                                                   Running Sisters Tayside

Clarks Bakery                                                             Henrys Coffee House

The Gas Technology Partnership Ltd.

 

 

 

 

What did previous runners say???

Well it is now only 4 days, 22 hours, 11 minutes, ? seconds and counting – oh god its drawing closer and I am scarily calm.  Is it the calm before the storm?  Well we’ll soon see.

I thought you guys would find it interesting yo see what previous MDS runners to say about the race . . .

Name: Gordon Barrie12510725_10153207786621861_1501170662_o

When did you complete the Marathon des Sables? 2005

What was your background in running?     I started running in 1st year at school (Madras College in St Andrews) and joined Fife AC. I now run for Dundee Hawkhill Harriers (since 1991). I have competed over various
distances on the track, cross country and road.
What made you sign up?   I was in danger of drifting away from the sport
and wanted a fresh challenge. Plus, I had seen the MdS on the TV and in
Runner’s World and thought it looked amazing (and it was!).
What was/ is your best memory of being out in the Sahara?    Running
through the desert on the long stage in the middle of the night was
fantastic. There was nobody else around, it was nice and cool and the
stars in the night sky were amazing!
What was/ is your worst memory of the race?     Waking up on the morning of
the long stage (about 50 miles!) and being sick with nerves. I honestly
though I was going to quit at the first checkpoint that day. Then I
looked at the guy lying next to me in the tent, who looked worse than I
felt! He kept going and I was immediately motivated again. I never
looked back after that. In a race like the MdS, everybody has highs and
lows, you just have to keep focussed on the goal. Plus, everybody
encourages one another. There’s a real bond between the runners.
How long did you have or take to train for the race?     I was running
anyway but specific training for the MdS was probably 5 or 6 months,
with the bulk of it in the last 12 weeks. Back to back 20+ milers at the
weekends!
What is the one thing you would have changed about your training?   I
would have done some upper body strengthening and carried a pack more
often in training.
What is the one piece of knowledge or recommendation you wished you had
had going out there?   Make sure you like all the food that you’re
carrying. I discovered that I should have taken more savoury stuff. I
found the sweet food unpalatable in the heat!

Name: Keith Anderson

 When did you completethe Marathon des Sables? 2009

What was yourbackground in running?   No background prior to entering the event
in 2007. Was formerly a rugby player.

What made you signup?   Had seen Ben Fogles documentary a few years before which
was the first awareness of the event. I was looking for a challenge and wanted
to prove that the ordinary person can achieve anything.

What was/ is your best memory of being out in the Sahara?
Difficult. In short the camaraderie and “journey” everyone shared. Personally,
on the long day I suffered sickness bug and almost retired at the first
checkpoint. I got medical assistance for extreme dehydration 7 x 1/2 litre bags
of saline and glucose via a drip, after which I got up and walked the next 66
miles non stop. That episode was “my mds”.

What was/ is yourworst memory of the race?    Sickness bug which swept the
campsite on day 2.

How long did you have or take to train for the race?   2 years building from 10
km up to ultra distance races as long as 64 miles.

 What is the one thing you would have changed about your training?
You don’t need to train for 2 years. 6 months should be long enough. However my
experience was in 2 stages. The journey to the start line which comprised of 2
years of fundraising and training which was an amazing time, and then there was
the race itself. The more training you do the more you get to know your body’s
limitations.

What is the one piece of knowledge or recommendation you wished you had had
 going out there?
I researched every element of the race to an extreme level and so I had all the
info I needed and there was no real surprises which gave me confidence in my
abilities. The best piece of advice that I had was to never withdraw yourself
from the race, get a medical assessment and let them withdraw you. You’ll be
surprised how much you can achieve even when you think you are done.
Also, never share anything with fellow participants, that’s not being selfish
it’s self preservation as bugs transmit very very easily so no sharing
water/food/cutlery/etc.

 

Name:  Lucja Leonard1902795_10152441613959924_4052712739759365014_n

When did you complete the MDS?    I did my first one in 2014, now up for my 2nd.

What was your background in running?   I took up running to lose weight about 8 years ago, hated running or any sport growing up, I was a size 18, weighing 98kg when I started with a walk/jog routine and next thing you know…..I’m running MdS (ha ha not quite, it did take quite some time but it was pretty quick considering my history) First marathon in 2011, first ultra 2013.

What made you sign-up?   I’d watched a documentary about it on TV and was gob smacked by the sheer challenge.

and then return again . . . and again?    My first MdS was a real eye opener, a real kick in the guts every day I was out there to say you are not as fit as you thought you were and I found it brutally difficult and although I finished I was personally disappointed with my result so even though on the finish line I vowed I would not be back….whilst I was watching my husband compete in it again last year (2015) and he did super amazing (32nd overall!) I just got so excited I had signed up before he had even finished the last stage!  I am really keen to go back and run it better and stronger.  I am fitter, lighter, stronger and wiser than last time so that has to help right?

What was/is the best memory of being out in the Sahara desert?    The total isolation, I love that feeling of being away from everything that is routine to my normal daily life in a stunningly beautiful place whilst pushing my body and mind to the limit.  It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.

What was/ is your worst memory of being in the Sahara?    The heat & the sand!

How long did you have to or take to train for the race the first time round and then thereafter or have you been keeping fit doing other races in between?   I was marathon/ultra fit, or at least I thought I was (it’s all relevant) already so my training kicked off in the December of 2013 so a good 4 months of solid training with a mixture of training and a few races in between to keep me focussed.  Christmas is always a hard time though so that was a blip in the schedule.  In hindsight I can see now that I overtrained, I was so focussed on my weekly mileage rather than the quality of my training, and spent too many hours running ‘junk’ mileage and too much running with my bag instead of focussing on quality sessions and including strength work into it.  After MdS I remember it took at least a month for my body to recover, I recall feeling like I wanted to run about a week after and about 1/2mile in I just stopped and was totally exhausted, the mind wanted but the body couldn’t.  It really takes a lot out of you.

10153771_10152441614489924_1331766896319222961_nThis time around my training has been all about quality sessions, getting in my key sessions each week – strength, flexibility, speed, hills, tempo, long back to back runs and most importantly – rest!  I have only just had a run with my bag and only plan on about 4 runs with my bag fully weighted, and I will start heat chamber sessions and Bikram yoga 2 weeks out from the race.

What is the one thing you would have changed about your training?   Sometimes less is more.

What is the one piece of knowledge or recommendation you wished you had had before going out there the first time (if you can remember)?    It is probably really obvious and it does sound stupid but I wish I had realised how damn hot and sandy it was going to be, nothing prepares you for the furnace that is the Sahara and no one can explain it to you.

Did you change things massively year on year?    More in my training approach, a few tweaks to nutrition, especially for during the race, the first year I took lots of nuts and bars to eat whilst ‘running’ and found them impossible to stomach, so this time I am going for gels and liquid energy (like Hammer Perpeteum and Torq energy sachets to add to my water) and save the chewable stuff for back in camp.

Here are Lucja’s own blogs: MDS Preparation 2014 and Post-event – please do check them out.

 

Thank you for reading folks, I really do appreciate everyones support and words of motivation.  Big thank you to Gordon, Keith and Lucja for answering these questions for my blog but also for answering my incessant questions and fielding my worries.

 

I am raising money for a small local mental health charity – Dundee Association for Mental Health – DAMH – they are a wonderful Dundee based charity who do fantastic work to help local people.  As someone who understands the need for this kind of invaluable suppo12687943_10205375836827795_8892240053623715467_nrt, both personally and professionally, I aim to do my very best out there in Morroco.

I will be taking on my biggest challenge to date,
if you would like to donate to the charity and sponsor myself you can do so here – Sponsor Page – Thank you

Follow me from your comfortable seat 😉 – Here is a link you can go to to follow me on a ‘live’ basis but if you wish you can also send good luck messages to keep my spirits raised during the event!    I am runner number . . .  1013 (#scary)

Sponsor Profile: Lift the Bar: Education & Support for Personal Trainers

The latest sponsor for my that I would like to introduce you all to is Lift the Bar, they are an education and mentoring group  who will simply rock your world as a personal trainer.  They really do bring community to a position that can create the feeling of isolation.  Particularly if you are used to working for someone else.

The generosity of this group kind of blew me away, to be honest, everyone’s kindness and support has.  Story for another day however.

Chris who runs LTB with a fantastic group of guys, really does listen, they all ‘GET IT’, been there, done it, got the t-shirt and if they haven’t they’ll find someone who has.  But that statement does the group no justice at all, they use that information and draw on the knowledge of specialists to really take you to that next level.

This not only exists in terms of specific business considerations but also supporting you. Mental health is one of those things that often personal trainers will talk freely about in terms of supporting clients to improve through physical activity BUT there is that fear that if we put it out there that we too may struggle we are seen as weak.  Here is where my challenge of doing the Marathon des Sables resonated, we believe deeply in supporting each other to be better and do better for others, mentally and physically.

If in doubt, got questions or just want a bit of a gander, give them a shout Lift the Bar– well worth the time and effort.  Enough of my chat, read on to really get a better description . . . .

 

Lift The Bar – A Personal Training Community

 

Most people become trainers because they had a positive personal experience with health and fitness and they wanted to share that with others, whilst hopefully making a decent living.

You get through your “qualification” and skip off into the sunset helping more lives than Mother Teresa, or maybe not.

More than with most industries, the fitness domain can often leave you confused as to what is actually right, or even good practice. It’s something the experts even like to argue loudly about over social media.

High fat is best.

High carb is best.

Squats are the best exercise.

Squats will ruin your knees.

And so it continues.

Then there’s the isolation. You’re a one (wo)man band. Working long hours often on your own or under the disdainful gaze of “the competition”, you know, the other trainers in your gym.

And what’s the result of this high stress, all consuming and often-convoluted vocation?

19 out of every 20 PT’s will be out of the industry within five years.

Let that sink in for a second. In a world with exponential rates of obesity trainers are struggling to make a living when they are needed now more than ever.

So what did we do?

 

We created Lift The Bar: Education and Support for Personal Trainers (LTB)

 

Predominantly based in the UK LTB is a community of over 350 personal trainers, facility owners and education providers with a range of expertise and experience.

So what unifies us?

The desire to improve the fitness industry, and in doing so, helping to positively impact the lives of thousands of people.

 So how does it work?

 Let’s first look at the education.

  • An online webinar library allowing you to learn from industry leaders on a range of topics. This is constantly being updated.
  • Seminars in a range of subjects held around the UK in which our members get to learn from experts from both the UK and abroad.
  • Internship Days. Get first hand experience how our successful trainers work down at LTB HQ in Bath or Edinburgh.
  • Regular Technique Days – A chance to ask questions, make mistakes and apply the information you are learning, all in the comfort of a non judgemental environment. It’s ok not to know stuff!
  • Business Days – Helping our members to provide some structure when it comes to growing their business.
  • Bi-weekly Skype calls with some of our mentors (complete members only).

 

I have to be honest, as good as the education is, I honestly don’t think it’s the best part of LTB. Why? The community and the support it provides.

 Lets check out the support.

 

  • Community- To those who are not part of LTB this can often seem a little strange but the sense of community is HUGE. It is what makes LTB, LTB! From a little pick me up if you have had a bad day, to other coaches providing you with their time all in the name of helping. It’s the best group of hard working and moral people I can say I have been a part of. Our members hold regular met ups with each other all over the country (for both work and play) and once you are welcomed into LTB, you are one of our own, no ego’s, no ulterior motives, just a fantastic community of coaches trying to be better (and doing it with a smile on their faces and possibly one too many drinks at the social event J).
  • Members Facebook Group– Imagine being able to pick the brains of over 350 fellow trainers. Well that’s what happens everyday in our closed FB group. Anything from where to get new flooring for your gym to asking for advice on a client with stubborn body fat. The Facebook group really has become the hub of our LTB community.
  • Accountability Service – Sometimes there is just so much to do it can cause paralysis by analysis. We take some of the stress away by getting our members to prioritise their weekly tasks then hold them accountable to them.

 

So there you go, a little glimpse into our LTB community.

 

If you would like to know more please visit our website at Lift the Bar or visit us on Facebook at Lift The Bar: Education and Support for Personal Trainers.

Gregg.

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Sponsor Profile:Gas Technology Partnership Ltd

Gas Technology Partnership Ltd

As with many of my corporate sponsors Sarah has chosen to write about the why of getting involved in sponsoring myself for the Marathon des Sables.  Few of them have taken the opportunity to showcase their business.  BUT, I think the way they have written their profiles says alot about them as business owners and how they want you, potential clients, to see what they value.  I am delighted that these businesses have gotten involved, that they value mental health and, it always astounds me, but their belief in my abilities.  Anyway, enough rambling on my part, here is Sarah’s words:-

You’d be forgiven for thinking ‘why is a Specialist Gas Consultant sponsoring Louise for the MDS Event?’

Actually, there’s more common ground here than meets the eye. Read on…

 

Louise and I first met during the 2014 Spartan Sprint just south of Edinburgh. Well when I say we met, what I mean is we didn’t have a clue who each other was but I decided to embark on a silent competition between us during the 5k obstacle race. Ridiculous I know, I had no chance against Louise.

I went away always wondering who my nemesis was.

The 2nd time we met was at an OCR training day that Louise was coaching in Ayrshire last year. I remember smiling to myself when I saw her stomping around and I thought ‘at last I get to meet the wee powerhouse herself’. (Sarah is on the left, conquering the high wall at the muddyraces OCR training day at Scottish Assault Courses Ayrshire).

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I knew right away we’d get along like we’d known each other for years. Louise is passionate about her sports and her goals. That comes across right away. It’s an attractive trait and you can see that people really warm to her.

We’ve been in touch ever since with the conversation always about racing and our personal physical goals, including the inevitable ups and downs that this always entails, but Louise always sees the positive and she’s a total inspiration for me.

I was so excited to hear that Louise had been selected to take part in the Marathon des Sables – ‘The toughest footrace on Earth’. 5 ½ marathons in 5 or 6 days – across the Sahara Desert!

Without a 2nd thought I wanted to support her in this epic dream.

This is where the commonality is between Louise’s goal and my company – Gas Technology Partnership Ltd. My dream was to always run my own company. After years of being constantly let down by employers I decided ‘ENOUGH!’ I can do better for myself.

I knew what my goal was; I could see the end game. I just needed to make it happen. 2 and half years later and I’m now running a very successful business, in fact it’s surpassed even my own expectations.

It takes hard work, determination, tenacity, positivity – especially when things get tough – which they do. And you have to keep that end game clear in your head – never lose sight of what your goal is.

But I gotta say, you do need a strong support network behind you. For me it was my friends and family who simply just believed in me.

Louise has all those traits in abundance and I know she’ll achieve her goal and it’ll be the experience of a lifetime. I also know what it means to just need some support along the way. It feels like perfect Karma to be able to give something back to help Louise live her dream.

 

Good luck my friend!

So again, thank you to all who take the time to read these blogs, please pop over to Sarah’s website/ facebook page and give her a ‘like’ and share the love as they say.

Website:  www.gtp-gas.co.uk

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/gastechnologypartnership/?fref=ts