Training and the Power of Social Media

It’s tough, I’m not going to lie.

A few months back I joined a Facebook group for people who are running under the  Heads Together campaign and it’s great; people from all walks of life, from all corners of the UK, all with different running abilities have come together for a joint cause and the support that they provide is fantastic.

Sunday is my “long run” day as I never work on a Sunday so I have the whole day free. When others in the Facebook group start posting their long run successes on a Saturday, it gets my feet itching and gets me wanting to be out there and feeling the same triumphs. These guys are bashing out 15, 18, 22+ mile runs before I’ve even thought about what I’m going to have for breakfast! I want to be able to do that…

It’s tough though. I’ve mentioned that already. I’m not a runner and I never will be. I’m not built for running and I’m still waiting to find the enjoyment that so many people get from it! On my last long run, I stuck it out for 6 miles before calling it a day and I hated about 5 and a half of those miles. It’s a strange feeling – the body is surprisingly willing, but the mind just won’t let it carry on. This marathon is going to be a physical challenge, but far more than that, it’s going to be a mental one. How ironic!

After a run I find myself scrutinising my pace, my time, my inabilities. And yet by simply posting a little map of my route on the Heads Together Facebook group, the comments, the advice and the support in response to my pathetic 6 miles makes the whole cycle complete and every minute of running hatred feels worth while, and I can’t wait to do it again.

It’s fantastic to be part of such an incredible team and it’s one of the things that will keep me plodding along tomorrow!





It’s all getting a little bit real now!

Over the last week or so, several parcels have arrived.

Firstly this dropped through the door…


Next came a selection pack of energy gels and electrolyte tablets…


Then finally came my birthday present to myself – a new pair of Tikiboo leggings to add to my collection. I think I know what I’m wearing on race day!


Training is going well. I’ll admit I have skipped a few runs over the last couple of weeks, but after today’s long run, I am still meeting the schedule. I’d have liked to have gone slightly further than the 6 miles I did cover, but a poorly timed energy gel meant that my reserves ran lower than they should have. But still, an important lesson learned and something to work on next Sunday. Last week I experienced the wonder of sports massage for the first time and I am definitely feeling the benefits.

6 miles down, only 20 to go(!)


The next thing I need to work on is proper post-exercise nutrition and keeping the ‘runger’ under control.


The Training Begins!

After a few false starts (mainly due to injury and the surprise discovery of a heart condition!) I’ve been given the green light to start training…with just 16 weeks to go!

Tomorrow will see the end of week 2 and it’s  been a tough two weeks already. My recent diagnosis of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) has meant that I’ve been started on various medications that will have the effect of both slowing my heart rate and reducing my blood pressure. Fortunately though, the experts have said I’m ok to continue. Exercise has been interesting – it’s as though no matter how hard I try, I cannot get my heart rate past a certain point and this is reducing as my dose is increasing. Thankfully, my hip seems to be holding up well!

The weather combined with my working hours has meant that I’ve become more familiar with the treadmill than I’d like, but needs must. It’s been quite icy here in the early mornings and late evenings, and I’m not risking injury at this point!

On the plus side, running is becoming part of my weekly routine and it is getting easier, albeit slowly. Liam and I braved the elements last Sunday and managed a not-quite 6km run in a reasonable time, and I’m interested to see what tomorrow’s “long run” brings.


Reflection on a Resolution

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but at the end of 2015 I decided to write a list in the back of my 2016 diary of things that I wished to achieve during the year. Some things I accomplished, some things I didn’t and some completely unexpected things happened too. One thing that was on my list for 2016 was to commit to a long term (12 months was the duration I had in mind) voluntary position, and that’s how I got involved with Mind TWS.

Looking back over my 12 months with Mind TWS, it’s been an incredible year. I signed up thinking that I’d give a bit of my time and maybe learn a new skill or two in return. Oh, how I under estimated things!

In the last 12 months I’ve given 123 hours of my time. It sounds a lot, but it’s just over 1% of 2016 when you consider that there are 8760 hours in a year.

In return, I have received…

Several hours of training, not only to allow me to do my “job” well, but being taught skills that I can take away and apply elsewhere.

Several hours of informative talks from professionals in the mental health field.

Limitless guidance and support from Mind TWS.

Nationally (and internationally) recognised training courses – I’ve completed both a Mental Health First Aid course and the ASIST course (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training).

Several new and wonderful friendships.

A new found confidence that I never even knew I was lacking.

Crazy opportunities aplenty! I’ve done some last minute dragon boat racing to make up numbers for a full team, I’ve skydived, I’ve done supermarket charity collections and of course I’ve ended up with a London marathon place as a non runner!

My list for 2017 simply says:

Continue volunteering with Mind TWS


Mind TWS Projects – Mindline Somerset


I’ve chosen Mindline Somerset as my next Mind TWS project to look at. With the shorter days, darker evenings and Christmas fast approaching, a lot of people struggle at this time of year. A simple share of this post may inadvertently help someone you know.

What is Mindline Somerset?

Mindline Somerset is confidential listening service for people in Somerset. It is an “out of hours” service which means that there is someone at the end of the phone when other day time services are unavailable. In addition to providing emotional support, the can provide information about other services both locally and nationally.

Who might use Mindline Somerset?

Anyone. It’s as simple as that.

Mindline Somerset treats all callers with dignity and respect without judgment, regardless of their background.

A caller may be someone who is feeling isolated and just wants to be able to talk to someone about their day.

A caller may be someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis and has reached the point of suicide.

Or literally anything between.

Mindline Somerset is used by people experiencing mental health difficulties themselves, but also family members, friends and carers of people experiencing difficulties too.

In February 2017, Mindline will be launching a new specialist service – watch this space for more information about the brand new Mindline Trans+ service!

What information do Mindline Somerset receive about callers?

Simply, none.

Mindline Somerset is an anonymous, confidential service and these two fundamental principles are strictly upheld.

Some callers may be happy to share some personal information, sometimes sharing a first name can help make a connection between caller and listener. Other callers may give some history to their story and some may be happy to give more personal information, for example a general location can be helpful in order to signpost a caller to other local services that may be useful to them. Ultimately, however, the amount of disclosure is entirely up to the caller.

Who answers the phones?

Mindline Somerset is manned by volunteers. They aren’t counsellors, they aren’t psychiatrists, the volunteers will forgive me for saying so, but they are just ordinary people like you or I. What makes them special however, is that they’re there to listen to people in their time of need.

 Prior to “going live” and taking calls, they receive carefully designed training to give them the skills they need to be able to deal with any situation that may arise.

As I already mentioned, the volunteers are ordinary people. They have all had some dealings with mental health in the past, sometimes through their day job or education, but largely through personal experience, be it their own or someone close to them. I will soon be speaking directly to the volunteers and getting their take on things, but that’s a whole other post!

When can I call?

Mindline Somerset operates between the hours of 8pm and 11pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. If you call outside of these times, or if all lines are busy, you will be directed to the Samaritans who operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (tel. 116 123) or to the Mind Infoline (tel. 0300 123 3393 Mon-Fri 9am-6pm)

Mindline Somerset will be open all over the Christmas and New Year period – just as they are with any other public holiday!

What if I don’t live in Somerset?

Mind TWS also runs the sister service, Mindline South Devon and Torbay


Mindline is a national concept run by local branches of Mind. You can find your local branch here to see if Mindline is a service that they offer locally to you

I’m interested in becoming a Mindline Somerset volunteer – where can I find out more?

Right here!

I’m a professional interested in utilising Mindline Somerset – how can I find out more?

Email or telephone the Mind TWS office on 01823 334906


Fundraising and Frustrations


This dropped into my email inbox at the beginning of the week so it’s official – I’m running London 2017 on a charity place – and that comes with a £2000 price tag!

Fundraising efforts have begun. Almost 150 letters and emails have been sent to various people, companies and organisations to try and rustle up things that can be used for raffle prizes and other such fundraisers. Events have been planned. A facebook page has been created for all thing marathon ( Fundraising relationships with some pretty large players are also in negotiation. It’s been like having a second full time job but hopefully efforts will pay off.

And then there’s the frustration. The marathon is 27 weeks away. That’s just 189 days. The clock is very much ticking, it’s all feeling very real and still I’m on a running ban. This weeks physiotherapy appointment was positive and progress has been made, but I’m by no means fixed. I’ve been instructed to continue alternative cardiovascular training and keep going with the stretches and massage. My next physio appointment is in 3 weeks and until then…


Marathon Training – an update

The whole running thing (kind of vital when it comes to marathon running) isn’t going so well!

After the injury that I sustained on week 1, day 1, mile 1, it’s been discovered that my hip flexor muscles, particularly on the right hand side, aren’t good. The repetitive motion combined with the repeated impact of road running quickly results in an array of pain and discomfort.

I’ve been to see a fantastic physiotherapist after an urgent referral (all thanks to our wonderful NHS!) and I’ve been put on a temporary running ban so that the physiotherapy can work its magic. In the meantime, my marathon training should consist of continuing with spinning for cardiovascular endurance, using a cross trainer to work similar muscles required for running but without the impact and swimming, particularly breaststroke, to work my hip flexors without impact…plus several stretches multiple times a day and myofascial/trigger point release.

So, a temporary running ban, a temporary spanner in the works, but come hell or high water, I will run this marathon!