Category Archives: Health & Fitness

My Year of Running

Running has taken over my life this year. From taking part in 10 races in 2018, including the Liverpool Half-Marathon, Southport 10k, Run for Rhys 5k and the Liverpool Santa Dash, I have lost over 2 stone in weight since January. In addition, my year in running has given me some proud memories, which I would like to share with you as 2018 draws to a close.

It was back in January when I set myself the goal of running the BTR Liverpool Half-Marathon. By running that race for the first time ever, I was out of my comfort zone, but at the same time relishing and energised by the challenge of pushing myself. Looking back, it was a proud and rewarding experience for me, even if I had to perform through the pain barrier, and I would gladly repeat the experience again. I say this because crossing that finishing line in under 3 hours was a great feeling, and I am convinced this was when I knew I had caught the running bug.

Another pleasure was the opportunity of experiencing such delightful scenery. This is because running has allowed me to take in some picturesque views of the River Mersey, the lush outdoors of Croxteth Park, and the Three Graces of Liverpool. As I have pounded the pavements and off-road tracks, seeing such fine sights through my own eyes has been a lovely treat.

Through the races and training, I have also learned about running in different weather conditions. This year, I have run in conditions where the weather has been either very hot or cold. When I ran the Southport 10k in July, the weather was very hot, meaning I had to adjust my running style to suit the conditions, by pacing myself and keeping hydrated.

In comparison, the Run for Rhys 5k was on a day of torrential rain and winds. This meant the course in Croxteth Park was full of mud, fallen leaves and big puddles, making it extremely difficult. On reflection, I was glad to have done the run, if only to experience the feeling of running when it is very wet and windy.

In addition to the races, I have done plenty of running in the countryside as part of my training, which has been extremely enjoyable. An example was back in October, when I ran 7 miles from Ormskirk all the way back to my house. This was on a cool Saturday morning, and my route took me past Edge Hill University, through the village of Bickerstaffe, and all the way back home. I also vividly remember being surrounded by blue skies, hanging clouds and being surrounded by peaceful countryside. Running along the pavements and open roads surrounded by silence, I can honestly say it was pure bliss!

There has been plenty that I have learned from my year of running. I have learned that anything is possible when you put your mind to something you want to achieve. Secondly I have also learned that training and preparation is important, and that you need to be courageous and willing to push yourself out of your comfort zone.

Finally I have also learned is that running is not just good for losing weight, but it is useful for relieving stress. This is because after a hectic day, I enjoy going for a quick run, as it helps me to mentally clear my head of stress and doubts, and allows me to calmly think more clearly with perspective, and it makes me feel good about myself. I also find running outdoors to be rather meditative.

And that’s all I have to say about my year of running. I hope you have enjoyed reading about my experiences and also what I have learned from them. Rest assured that I will be keeping up the habit, and will be looking forward to more running exploits in 2019.

In the meantime, I would like to wish all you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Thanks for reading!

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Weightmans Wednesday – ABS Solutions

Health and fitness is important to everyone. There are so many gyms and other fitness establishments that offer services to customers looking to exercise for various reasons, which is why the fitness industry is currently booming. Like any other business however, fitness establishments need to have their individual style or brand to attract customers.

At last month’s Weightmans Wednesday bi-monthly event, I was delighted to listen to Connor O’Brien the founder of Absolute Body Solutions (ABS), talk about the story of his business. It was a very good story too, from opening the first gym in Speke, to the latest gyms in Liverpool City Centre, and also recently in Manchester. In addition, Connor also talked about the rigorous attention to detail involved with ensuring the business performs and delivers the highest quality personal fitness training to customers. Listening to Connor speak, I recognised the crucial qualities of relentless hard-work, a strong emphasis of quality and consistency of performance when delivering services to customers, as well as Connor’s own passion for fitness.

For myself, I had a particular interest in this event, and of what I could learn from it. The result from listening to Connor’s story, was that I learned of the difficulties of being a good personal trainer and business person, because there are so many responsibilities involved with running both the front and back-end functions of the business. From the personal training of clients, to looking after the finance, marketing, as well monitoring the performance and continual development of the 19 personal trainers employed by ABS, I can only imagine and admire the tremendous work and dedication of everyone involved, that goes into making the business successful. This is why a key takeaway for any business owner is to surround themselves with the right people.

Connor also talked about how the fitness industry is changing. This involved the growth of online platforms such as YouTube to deliver personal training online to a wider audience. In the long term, I believe it will be interesting to see how gyms and personal trainers make use of online platforms. However technology will need to be tailored to suit the needs of gyms, personal trainers and their clients.

Overall it was a very good event, with plenty for me to take away and ponder for myself. This is because I came away thinking about my own self-improvement in my work and personal life, learning new methods and consistently applying them to develop as a person and as a professional.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Connor for sharing his story, and also to everyone at Weightmans for coming together, to organise and deliver an interesting evening.

BTR Liverpool Run for Rhys 5k – My Recollections

Last month over the Bank Holiday weekend, I took part in the BTR Liverpool Run for Rhys 5k event. Held in the lush surroundings of Croxteth Park, the purpose of this was to support the Rhys Jones Community Centre in Croxteth, setup to celebrate and honour Rhys’s memory after his tragic murder eleven years ago, which shocked Liverpool and the whole nation.

This was the first time I had taken part in the run, and I enjoyed it despite the heavy rainfall. Arriving at the start outside Croxteth Hall, there was a good crowd of runners taking part, along with representatives from Merseyside Police, Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, Radio City, and Everton in the Community, all giving their support. The weather certainly didn’t affect the positivity and feel good atmosphere, although there were a good number huddling inside the hall foyer to keep dry before the start. Who could blame them?

For me personally, the run was memorable for several reasons. From standing in the pouring rain in a sea of blue at the start, passing a loud mooing cow (no seriously!), stepping in a big puddle twice, to crossing the finishing line, my memories of the day were plentiful. In addition, I also remember the course being tougher then I anticipated, due to the rain, wind, mud, puddles and leaf stained track making this 5k run, the toughest I have ever done. This is because I had to concentrate and stay mentally sharp throughout, which as a runner was a useful and valuable experience.

Previously I had never completed a run in such conditions, so this was a new challenge I faced head-on. I was never dazed by this, and I managed to overcome the difficulties posed by the weather and complete the run in 34 minutes, which I was delighted to challenge and conquer. Despite being completely soaked to the skin, I really enjoyed the run, with the warm support and camaraderie among the runners and local crowds certainly gaving a warm buzz, to a wet Sunday morning in Croxteth. I would certainly do it all again whatever the weather brings.

I would like to thank BTR Liverpool, Rhys Jones Community Centre, Croxteth Park and to everyone else involved, including to Rhys’s family for organising and supporting the event. It was a very special day for the city of Liverpool, in not only supporting the centre, but also to honour and celebrate Rhys’s life.

BTR Liverpool Half Marathon 2018 – My Recollections

Have you ever felt the urge to do something you have never done before?

Something that challenges and pushes you out of your comfort zone?

Last month, I did exactly the above, when I ran the BTR Liverpool Half-Marathon for the first time. Whilst I have previously taken part in the Santa Dash and Scouse 5k for charity, my reasons for doing the Liverpool Half-Marathon were different. As well as to lose a few pounds, I had also set myself a personal challenge of running a half-marathon, so this forced me to step out of my comfort zone.

In order to take the half-marathon seriously, I trained hard over a period of 12 weeks. This was to ensure I was physically and mentally prepared, although I must confess there were occasions when I wondered what I had let myself in for. However I was excited and looking forward to tackling the half-marathon, and as race day approached, the hardest part was keeping focused, whilst trying to remain calm on the surface.  Indeed the night before, I barely managed to grab any sleep, as I was pumped up, full of adrenaline and raring to go!

On the morning of the half-marathon, I arrived at the Pier Head feeling relaxed, calm, and yet keeping my mind solely on the challenge that lay ahead. Taking up position at the start, I was surrounded by blue skies, beautiful sunshine, and a carnival-like atmosphere, with plenty of colourful sights, sounds of music and joyous excitement. There were thousands of runners taking part, with lots running for charity, including several dressed in superhero outfits and funny costumes. I even recall noticing a runner dressed up as Captain America, and another as a bumblebee, which certainly added to the fun-filled mood.

Soon the run started, and everything that I had prepared and trained for, came together instantly. It struck me that I was now entering the unknown, like Christopher Columbus sailing and discovering America.

The route itself was demanding, yet also picturesque. From Mann Island, the route passed along Upper Parliament Street, Park Lane, Sefton Park, through Otterspool Park and back along Otterspool Promenade, to the finishing line at the Three Graces. Running along the route, taking in the sights was a delight for me, and along with the cheers and encouragement of fellow runners and passers-by, certainly kept my spirits up.

I realised the half-marathon was always going to be a physically draining effort. However I learned it also required a great amount of mental strength, to persevere to the finish. I discovered this when I felt a sharp pain in my right leg, about halfway through the race, which prevented me from running at my best, meaning I had to power walk the remaining distance. Rather than damaging my confidence, this setback only served to spur me on to keep going, despite the pain. This was rewarded when I eventually completed the half-marathon in a time of 2 hours and 51 minutes, of which I was delighted and ecstatic.

As I crossed the finished line, the reality of what I had achieved sunk in, and I felt extremely proud, even I was feeling numb and in pain, whilst walking like John Wayne!

Looking back, I feel great pride in succeeding and meeting my goal of completing the half-marathon. Of course, there are aspects of the training, preparation and running I would have done differently in hindsight, but what I achieved in completing the half-marathon though my hard-work and determined efforts, shows that anyone can achieve anything.

To conclude, if what I have achieved inspires other disabled people like myself, then I am proud to have helped in blazing the trail.

Thanks for reading!

Radio City Scouse 5k – My Recollections

Last month, I mentioned why I was taking part in the Radio City Scouse 5k on my birthday. I am pleased to say, that I completed the run in less than 40 minutes, and raised £980.10 for Maghull Young Adults Social Club (MYASC).

Two years previously, I had done the Liverpool Santa Dash for charity. However this was even more special to me, because MYASC is a cause very close to my heart. As I reflect on my achievement, I feel a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment.

My experience of the Scouse 5k was great fun, with so many colourful wscouse5k_pic1igs, Scouse moustaches, blue skies and sunshine. This contributed to a carnival atmosphere, which excited me. Whilst the course was more difficult than I imagined (especially running up Brownlow Hill), and my red coloured wig kept sliding, I never wavered in my determination once. This was rewarded when I saw my mum and dad, at the finish.

As I approached the finish, I saw my dad speaking to the announcer, who then shouted “Happy Birthday” to me over the loudspeaker, as I crossed the finish line. My mum told me later on, that she was emotional and extremely proud too.

I would like to thank all of my family, friends, colleagues and everyone who not only sponsored me, but also for their good wishes and encouragement. This was not only special, but it is also one of the proudest achievements in my life, and I hope this gives encouragement to many others. This is because what I have done proves that disability is no barrier, to what an individual can achieve.

To conclude, I would like to say once again…

Thank you for all of your support!scouse5k_pic2

Why I am running in the Radio City Scouse 5k

Hello readers!

On Sunday 18th September (incidentally my birthday), I shall be taking part in the Radio City Scouse 5k run, being held in Liverpool City Centre. I am doing this through my own initiative, to raise money for Maghull Young Adults Social Club (MYASC). MYASC is a monthly social evening for adults (18+) with learning difficulties, allowing them to meet new friends, and relax in a safe and friendly environment, whilst at the same time developing social skills, and personal confidence.

MYASC is a local cause very close to my heart. This is because I am autistic, and having attended the club for over thirteen years, I have made several friends who are special to me today, and have developed as a person. Therefore I owe a great deal to MYASC, as along with my family and others, they have helped me get where I am today, in developing my social skills and confidence.

Having taken up running in January, I came up with the idea of taking part in the Scouse 5k, to raise money for MYASC. I wanted to do this to help other adults with learning difficulties, and to support the local community, by giving something back.

Since I have taken this forward, my family, friends and work colleagues have given me so much support and encouragement, which I am both appreciative and grateful for.

I will be sharing my thoughts on my Scouse 5k experience very soon!

Thank you for all your support!

Santa Dashing for Charity

As people, I believe in giving something back to others. On Sunday 7th December, I recently took part in the 10th anniversary BTR Liverpool Santa Dash, to raise money for the chosen charities of Liverpool Direct Limited (LDL). These charities were The Walton Centre and Ronald McDonald House.

I wanted to do this, because I had never took part in anything like it before, and I thought it would be a rather fun way to give back to the community, with the added bonus of trying to get fit at the same time!

From the start at the Pier Head, to the finish line at Liverpool Town Hall, I powered along the 5K route. This was through my determination, strength, and the enthusiasm, humour and cheering of the crowd and my fellow Santas, despite the cold and blustery weather, which never deterred me. A lovely memory that sticks in my mind was of my mum and dad, waving proudly to me outside Moorfields Station, as I ran past, waving back to them. My mum told me later, they arrived two minutes previously, so my timing was spot on!

Liverpool Santa Dash 2014 was a tremendous success, with around 8,500 Santas taking part, raising money for many wonderful causes. We even managed to take the World Santa Dash title back from Las Vegas.

Personally, I am proud to say that I completed the Santa Dash in 39 minutes, and raised £242 for LDL’s chosen charities. I would like to thank my LDL colleagues, and my family for all their wonderful support, encouragement and kindness in sponsoring me throughout.

It was a fantastic experience.