Tag Archives: London Marathon

07Oct/17
Royal Parks 1/2 Marathon

Why I run

Royal Parks 1/2 Marathon

Team shirts for Royal Parks 1/2 Marathon

Why I run

Recently I was chatting to a good friend who asked me why I run. I had to pause and think because naturally I don’t class myself as a runner. Instead, I am someone who goes running.

Whether I am a runner or not is not particularly important, however the purpose is. I used to go out regularly just to keep fit. 30-40 minutes would suffice, I would feel pretty good afterwards, but it was often a bind beforehand. Then the Royal Parks 1/2 Marathon 2016 was on the agenda so I had to get a bit more serious. Somehow it became more enjoyable. There was a goal and a reason. The reason was to raise awareness of the problem of chronic pain and to raise money for UP, understand pain.

Purpose and mine as an example

Having a purpose or a meaning is known to be a key ingredient for a healthy and happy life. You may or may not know what it is, so it’s a great idea to write it out. We all have a calling, or as Seth Godin says, a ‘caring’. We can have a number of these in relation to family, work and other activities in life.

My purpose, which you could also call my ‘why’ in Simon Sinek’s language, is to inspire as many people as I can, to live well and overcome pain. This is by directly working and coaching with people who suffer chronic pain to date, and delivering The Pain Coach Workshops to clinicians and therapists who choose to become inspirers, educators, enablers and encouragers.

Here is Richard Leider on purpose ~ TEDX talk

UP & CRPS UK London Marathon

Next came the opportunity to run the London Marathon 2017. I was selected to represent CRPS UK, joining together with UP, and realised the excitement of taking part in an incredible day. The experience of preparing for a marathon was something I can now look back upon with pride. Somehow you manage to fit in the regular and long runs. Undoubtedly this required the support of the people close by. The 20 mile plus efforts would consume a Saturday with the recovery on return usually consisting of walking like John Wayne accompanied by much grunting and groaning until the next day.

What has running done for me?

There have been a number of effects of long distance running beyond the obvious fitness. At a time when I was driving understand pain onwards, the regular and intense exercising helped me to focus. In part this was from organising my time, prioritising and concentrating on completing tasks. There was no choice, because I had to fit in the long runs, but now this has become a habit. We have finite time and so wise use is important to me.

The ability to focus comes into its own when you are some miles into the run and your thinking turns to stopping, the pain, and plenty of other reasons why continuing is a bad idea. To keep going and ‘just run’ as my good (running) friend advised me was gold. You can and do just keep going, suddenly inspired by something you choose to turn your attention to, fortifying the attitude I describe below, which we can take into other arenas of life.

The most significant opportunity was building upon the ‘you can’ approach to life. Building up the miles with an attitude of ‘I can do this’, keeping my attention on a picture of success that I clarified from the start and following principles that take me in that direction resulted in completing the marathon. Looking back now, this was a mindset that pervaded the UP ethos and how grown immeasurably since. The more you work that approach, the more the approach works.

you can

Undoubtedly, focusing on one’s strengths means that you get results together with the development of clarity and resilience to face challenges that crop up. This is no different with a pain challenge to overcome, which is why I encourage people to adopt the strengths approach. It works if you have a purpose, principles to follow and a picture of success to work towards based on living a healthy and happy life.

So this is why I run. Not to keep fit — that is a great side effect and not at all separate from the way we feel and think; we are whole unique individuals — but to nurture and build an approach to life that is about possibility and fulfilling potential.

approach to life: problems or possibilities?

Tomorrow I run the Royal Parks 1/2 Marathon in London. This was a great day last year and I am very excited to be doing it again. I am running to raise awareness of CRPS UK and understand pain and the work we are doing to address the No 1 global health burden ~ see below. Please support my work. Chronic pain affects each and everyone of us either because we suffer, know someone who suffers or pay towards the problem via taxes, insurance premiums and long NHS waits. This can change. This is our work at understand pain, this is my purpose.

18Feb/17

Why am I running the London Marathon?

Why am I running the London Marathon?

We are 10 weeks away from the London Marathon and I am getting excited about the day. The training is going well, and I am using others experience and knowledge as a yardstick, reaching 16 miles so far. A bit more nudging in March and I’ll be set to join the thousands of other runners, coursing round the great city of London.

So why am I doing this? The answer is simple. To raise awareness and money to address the biggest global health burden, chronic pain. It costs us the most economically but of course the amount of suffering worldwide is immeasurable. This must change and we can change it by shifting our thinking to be in line with what we know about pain. With an understanding of pain, individuals realise their potential to overcome their pain and live meaningful lives. This is achievable, and in this day and age we have the means to reach across the globe to give people the knowledge and skills. This is the story of UP | understand pain, which was co-founded by myself and Georgie as a pain awareness campaign. Now we have big plans to take the project to another level to achieve our aim of changing the way society thinks about pain.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) can be a terribly disabling condition, characterised by intense pain. Many people have not heard of CRPS and within healthcare diagnosis is often delayed. This is a problem because like most conditions, early identification allows for treatment to begin. The treatment must be based upon the person’s understanding of the signs and symptoms, for there is an understandable fear that drives on-going protection. Therefore, as with any injury or pain problem, the early messages must be right and make sense.A person’s belief drives their behaviours and subsequent thinking, so a good working knowledge of pain is vital ~ understand pain to change pain.

CRPS UK gained a place in this year’s London Marathon, and having spoken twice at their conferences and being in regular contact, I ‘volunteered’ to be the runner. I was very excited to be chosen and gratefully accepted, which is now why I am out in the Lycra every other day (I will not be posting a picture of that!). CRPS UK is a charity dedicated to advancing the understanding of the condition and supporting people with CRPS. The people involved are doing incredible work to raise the profile and have achieved so much through their dedication. Please visit their website here.

You may be someone suffering chronic pain or know someone who is regularly in pain. Most of us do know someone and can see the effects upon their life. This is not just pain from backs and joints but pain related to cancer, heart disease, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, migraines, rheumatological diseases, pelvic pain and many other conditions that hurt. The work being done by CRPS UK and UP aims to change this and provide resources and training that gives individuals and society a way forward, to overcome pain and live well.

Please show your support here and donate generously

Thankyou!!

24Jan/17

Supporting CRPS UK Charity

Supporting CRPS UK Charity

In April I am running the London Marathon supporting CRPS UK Charity and UP. The aim is to raise awareness of the work being done to change the problem of pain and to raise money to support this work. I will be writing blogs about CRPS, pain, CRPS UK and UP, as well as posting links to important research over the next few months in the build up to the run.

You can support me by clicking here

What is CRPS? Complex Regional Pain Syndrome ~ For a simple guide, click here

From CRPS UK:

CRPS UK is a registered charity focused on helping people with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) to live the best lives they can. The charity was set up by four people who have CRPS to provide a support system to others with the condition. We aim to do this by providing a supportive environment in which people can find out about CRPS and get in touch with a community of people who know what they are going through via our very active closed Facebook group. This serves to allow people to speak with confidence and privacy about any concerns they may have, thus supplying a huge support network. We have already held successful conferences and regional meet ups. For many this is the first time they have met anyone else with the condition. These social opportunities help to break down the isolation often experienced with a chronic health condition.

Specialist treatment can be the key to lessening the impact of CRPS and helping people with CRPS to live rich and fulfilling lives. We are working with specialist treatment centres to provide a grant scheme for patients with CRPS who are experiencing financial difficulty, to help them to afford travel expenses to and from hospital. This will ensure that they can access the treatment they need. Currently this is only for travel costs for those receiving treatment at the RNHRD/RUH in Bath, but we aim to roll this out in the future to other units specialising in CRPS.

Going forward we also aim to improve diagnosis and treatment of CRPS. We will be promoting awareness and education about CRPS in healthcare professions, which should lead to more patients receiving timely diagnosis and intervention. This will be through the production of healthcare leaflets and presentations via direct contact.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a rare neurological disorder, which causes chronic pain that cannot be controlled and can affect all areas of the body but most commonly occurs in the limbs. It is a debilitating and disabling inflammatory condition that can be caused by minor injury (sprain), broken/fractured bones, surgery or can appear spontaneously without known cause.

CRPS is believed to be the result of dysfunction in the central or peripheral nervous systems where the signals between the affected limb or body part and the brain are misinterpreted resulting in the following:

  • “burning” pain.
  • hypersensitivity of the skin.
  • changes in skin temperature: warmer or cooler compared to the opposite extremity.
  • changes in skin colour: often blotchy, purple, pale, or red.
  • changes in skin texture: shiny and thin, and sometimes excessively sweaty.
  • changes in nail and hair growth patterns.
  • swelling and stiffness in affected joints.
  • motor disability, with decreased ability to move the affected body part

CRPS can strike anyone at any age and affects both men and women, but statistics show it is more common in women.

Very little is known or understood about CRPS and there is no cure.

For further information, you can contact CRPS UK here

17Apr/13

London Marathon 2013 | Dealing with the aches and pains

Most runners will have put in the hard yards by now and are set to go. Undoubtedly there have been quite a few aches and pains along the road so far. Sadly this will prevent some people from participating, say in the case of a stress fracture – click here.

It is entirely normal to experience pain as a result of exercising. We expect it after new or unaccustomed activity and recover quickly, often independently and sometimes with assistance (e.g./ physiotherapy, massage). The marathon will be no different as limbs and bodies will be sore on Sunday afternoon and evening, most likely building into Monday and Tuesday before starting to settle. This kind of sensitivity is an adaptive response to the demands placed upon the tissues and physiological systems. In essence it is the body asking for a rest, motivated by the unpleasant sensations.

If there have been more significant niggles during the training period, these may flare-up and require professional attention. For example an issue with a tendon. A diagnosis followed by a comprehensive treatment and rehabilitation programme will be needed to address such a problem or an injusy sustained on the day of the race.

For further information about post-marathon treatment and recovery please contact us on 07932 689081

Clinics in Chelsea – Harley Street – Temple – New Malden

Common running injuries include: shin splints, anterior knee pain, ITB syndrome, iliotibial band syndrome, hip pain, hamstring pain, calf strain, ankle sprain. We see the more persisting and recurring running injuries at our London clinics, delivering comprehensive treatment and rehabilitation programmes that are based on the latest neuroscience.

17Mar/13

All stressed out – stress fractures in marathon runners | Guest blog

 

Dr Cath Spencer-Smith writes…

Marathon season is upon us, and thousands of runners throughout the land are in the final stages of training for their big day. For some, this is also the time when they find themselves experiencing new aches and pains. Whilst we may all expect to feel discomfort and stiffness from time to time, some marathoners may literally find themselves running into trouble, when they fail to heed the warning signs of a serious injury.

Stress fractures and responses are common, and may be overlooked because of the misconception that they only occur in skinny females. Any runner is susceptible to a stress fracture, particularly if they are relatively new to the sport, have gone through a rapid increase in mileage, or have poor biomechanics or muscular conditioning. If a person with a high level of CV fitness (e.g. from road cycling or football), then decides to switch to running, they can be at increased risk as they are able to push themselves hard. A stress fracture is a literally that- a kind of fracture in the bone, which arises when the bone literally weakens when it is overstressed. It is created either through impact forces (which focally overload an area of bone –e.g.in a metatarsal), or through the forces created when muscles pull against bone (e.g. the fibula). This overload brings about an abnormal bony remodelling. A stress ‘response’ then ensues, and eventually the bone actually breaks. During this break down process, a runner will often experience increasing symptoms of pain – maybe at first at the end of a long training run, and then earlier and earlier into each successive run. Some stress responses can occur in the worst possible places, e.g. the neck of the femur. If these progress to a full facture, it can herald disaster for the hip, sadly sometimes ending in a total hip replacement in a person who may only be in their 30’s…

In additional problem we have to consider around Marathon time, is the impact of a stress fracture or stress response on the ability of a runner to be able to participate in the event, when race day comes round. This is probably the hardest part to deal with, for both the runner and the person looking after them. Sometimes, the injury is mild, and there is sufficient time to get runner recovered and robust enough to be able to race. This is sadly not often the case, and for many runners, the discussion of their diagnosis involves a conversation about pulling out of the race. The risks of participating with a high grade stress response should not be underestimated, and on the day of the London Marathon, several runners will literally try to push on through pain, and during the run, will succumb to a fracture.

When we think about the time and effort invested in training for a marathon, it’s no surprise that many runners are desperate to try to participate, particularly if they are running for a charity, or are running as part of a group. Wherever possible, we try to help runners get to the beginning of a race, provided it can be done safely. Each year I meet a runner who is determined to run, no matter what the risks, or potential fall out for him or her in the future. Some runners are cognisant of their symptoms, and yet choose to either disregard them or somehow justify that all is well. Worse still, others around them, including clinicians, can become embroiled in the process of this potentially disastrous decision making. How could, a sensible or experience coach or clinician allow this to happen?. Sometimes, the runner and his support group fall prey of two other ‘conditions’, know is ‘Groupthink’ and ‘Captainitis’.

‘Groupthink’, a term coined by a psychologist, Irving Janis, describes the process by which we can collectively, as a group, make a really, really bad decision. In essence, if we feel loyalty to our group (which might e.g. consist of the runner, their coach, a training partner, and sometimes a therapist), we want to achieve or maintain harmony. Let’s image that the runner finds him or herself in a situation, which brings about doubt – (e.g. ‘is this pain I’m experiencing a ‘tweak’ or a’ big problemo?’), or requires that an awkward decision be made (e.g. ‘is wise for me to keep training, and should I considering pulling out of the marathon?’). Imagine then, that the runner mentions his leg pain to his training partner, who is quick to dismiss it as ‘the kind of pain it’s OK to run through- just ice it’. The coach, who has seen his young prodigy blossom from couch potato to racing machine, is keen to reassure – ‘you’ll get round on the day’, and the massage therapist is quick to declare ‘look how it eases off with treatment – we’ll get you to the start line’. Outside views are purposely avoided by the group, and its members, keen to avoid upset or express concern, develop an inflated (and misguided) certainty that the right decision has been made. And then a leg breaks…

Sometimes the runner’s coach or clinician has their own malady to deal with, known as ‘captainitis’. Some of the individuals were interact with in our lives, may be very capable, and we may hold them in great esteem, or even put them up on a pedestal. We may sometimes believe that the wealth of their knowledge or experience dwarfs our own, which can bring about a strange hierarchy of opinions. When bowing to our ‘senior’ or ‘wiser’ Captain, we may literally choose suppress our own doubts and keep shtum, however personable or humble our ‘Captain’ may be. We feel we don’t want to speak out because our Captain is so capable. Surely Captain knows best? But what if the Captain has got it wrong?

In fact the more capable the Captain, the greater the risk of this. This may seem strange until we consider that the Captain in his capable, confident bubble may be unlikely to solicit the opinions and advice of others. He or she may make the decision for the group alone, not in an arrogant manner, but in a manner based upon the belief that the Captain is deemed to have the best skills to be able to make that decision.

So what advice should we give to a runner in pain, who is not sure of the cause or what to do? Firstly, it is important to own up to that there is a problem and not try to deny it. Seek help, and seek the help of experienced clinicians who are used to dealing with runners. Declare that you have a problem to your friends and family, and charge one of them with the responsibility of ensuring you do this, rather than entering into a collusion group-think situation. And how to avoid the sinking Birds Eye ship? …The answer here is to get your word in edgeways first. This means declaring that you are concerned that you might have a stress fracture, and that you believe you need to undergo some investigations. Do this rather than pausing for a response from the Captain at the point when you’ve finished discussing your symptoms. This will often be enough to trigger the Captain to reflect, and consider that you may indeed have a significant clinical problem… Never be too afraid to speak up, and remember that even if you have to sit this particular Marathon out, you only have 365 days to wait till the next one…

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A big thanks to Cath for writing this piece. For further information please see the Sport Doc website here

22Mar/12

Training for the marathon – developing pain & injury

At this time of year, as the London Marathon nears, runners reaching new levels of training can start to develop aches and pains. Usually the pains are in the legs or feet and often begin as an annoyance but develop into a problem that means training has to stop.

The tissues are constantly breaking down and rebuilding. This is a carefully orchestrated process that is impacted upon by exercise. This is how we develop muscle bulk. However, we do need a period of adaptation that can be disrupted if there is inadequate rest. The balance tips towards tissue breakdown and inflammation triggers the development of sensitivity that if ignored can progress and become amplified. A good training programme should account for both rest periods and gradual progression of intensity.

A second issue is that of control of movement. On a day to day basis we can walk around, undertake normal activities, play sports and even run for certain distances with minor motor control issues. Motor control refers to the way in which our body is controlled by the brain with a feedback-feedforward system. The tissues send information to the brain so that there is a sense of position and awareness, allowing for the next movement to be made and corrected if necessary. The problem lies in the increasing distances, often never reached before, that can highlight these usually minor issues. Compensation and extra strain upon muscles and tendons that are trying to do the job of another can lead to tissue breakdown as explained previously. The sensitivity builds and training becomes difficult.

A full assessment of the affected area, body sense and the way in which movement is controlled will reveal factors that need addressing with treatment and specific exercises. This fits alongside a likely modification in the training programme that allows for the sensitivity to reduce before progressing once more. In some cases a scan or other investigations are recommend to determine the tissue nature of the problem.

If you are starting to develop consistent twinges that are worsening, pain that is affecting training or you are concerned, you should seek advice.

For appointments at one of the clinics please call 07518 445493

  • 9 Harley Street
  • The Chelsea Consulting Rooms
  • Temple
  • New Malden Diagnostic Centre