Category Archives: Running

What Have I Learned from Running?

Back in December 2014, when I took part in the Liverpool Santa Dash 5k, I thought running would be a one-off experience. Looking back now in hindsight, this was the beginning of something new and fulfilling, that would become a major part of my life.

It was not until January 2016, that I took up running as a hobby. This was because I wanted to do something different for a New Year’s resolution, and to improve my fitness.

Initially I would go for a run once a week. However, I was quickly bitten by the running bug, and was soon covering longer distances, as I was consumed by my growing enthusiasm for running. This led to me to running the 2016 Scouse 5k for charity, where I raised £980 for Maghull Young Adults Social Club, for young adults with autism like myself. I have since gone further by running in longer events in Liverpool, Port Sunlight, Hoylake, and Southport, culminating in running the 2018 BTR Liverpool Half-Marathon for the first time, which was a great experience, despite completing the race with an injury. In simple terms, outdoor running has forced me to push myself out of my comfort zone and has also taught me more about myself, than I could possibly have imagined previously.

My life has changed considerably since taking up running. Apart from getting physically fitter and stronger, it has given me plenty of self-confidence, in addition to having something in common with other enthusiasts, and it gets me outdoors and into the fresh air.

Running outdoors has also allowed me to explore my surroundings. From the streets of Liverpool, to country lanes and coastal areas, I have been able to take in sights of pure natural beauty and picturesque landmarks, some of which have been memorable. One example is running along Otterspool Promenade with the wind blowing in from the River Mersey, whilst another is running from Ormskirk to Kirkby on a glorious October morning with blue skies, little cloud, surrounded by peaceful countryside. However, my personal favourite was on holiday in Paphos, where I would run from my hotel to the town and back, complete with spectacular views of the early-morning sun, rising over the Mediterranean Sea.

One of the most spectacular views I have come across when running. An early-morning run from the town on Paphos to my nearby hotel, when on holiday in 2019.

I have found running to be an ideal way of relieving stress after a hard-working day. Running allows me to clear my head of mental strains, anxieties, and other negative thoughts, as endorphins are released in the brain, making me feel good afterwards. This makes running beneficial to good mental health and well-being, and it can be meditative and helps to get the creative juices going too!

Apart from what I have mentioned already, there are other benefits associated with running. These include the following below:

  1. Anyone can take up running.
  2. Running is a cheap way to exercise.
  3. It helps with getting a good night’s sleep.
  4. When running in sunlight, it is a good source of Vitamin D.
  5. Running also boosts creativity and can improve your memory.
  6. It also helps in strengthening your joints and bones.
  7. Running also improves your cardio-vascular health.

Of course, there are other things that I have learned from my running experiences, including the following:

  1. Always listen to your body.
  2. Strains and injuries can be picked up if you are not careful (yes this has happened to me).
  3. Ensure you take a bottle of water for hydration (this is especially important when running in warm weather).
  4. In warm weather, wear light clothing i.e. shorts and T-shirt, along with a cap and put sunblock on.
  5. Run at a pace that you are comfortable with.
  6. When running outdoors, be mindful of your surroundings.
  7. If taking part in a race, put in as much practice and preparation as you can.

Looking back on my running journey, I can say that taking it up was one the best decisions I ever made. Running has given me structure, discipline, fitness, and it has proven to be extremely valuable in coping with the daily stresses, strains, and anxieties of modern life, and I also enjoy it very much. In addition, running has given me plenty of moments, for myself and my family to be proud about. There are also millions of others like myself, who have changed their lives through running, and have proudly felt the same passion and pride as I have done.

In conclusion, I hope you have enjoyed reading about and understanding how much I have learned from running, and why it has become a passion of mine. I can guarantee you, that I shall be keeping the running habit going.

Thanks for reading!

You’ll Never Walk by Andy Grant – A Book Review

When you read somebody’s personal journey, their highs, lows, triumphs and tragedies experienced, are vividly described and brought to life in your mind. Some make you laugh, cry, emotional and even inspired, as their journey is so engrossing that you cannot stop reading, which is like being on a rollercoaster.

I experienced this recently when reading a fabulous book called, You’ll Never Walk by Andy Grant. You’ll Never Walk tells his personal story from growing up in Bootle, joining the Royal Marines and overcoming adversity, to become a motivational speaker and runner.

As a Royal Marines commando, Andy served in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2009, Andy’s military career was cut short, when he was blown up by an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) whilst on patrol, suffering serious injuries. These included nerve damage, two broken legs, a broken elbow and sternum, along with a severed femoral artery. I must admit reading Andy’s account and the subsequent aftermath was difficult, as I could not have imagined what must have been going through his mind, during those fateful and horrific moments.

Along with enduring the mental trauma and months of recovery, Andy was also told the devasting news, that he would not be able to have children. Yet from such harrowing adversity, Andy showed great character, courage, heart, and determination befitting a true Scouser and Royal Marine, by rebuilding his life and making a brave decision to amputate his leg. Since then, Andy has not only become a successful motivational speaker, but he also went on to be the fastest single-leg amputee in the world over 10k, along with winning double gold at the 2014 Invictus Games.

From the Royal Marines to motivational speaking and record-breaking running, Andy Grant has experienced and achieved so much, whilst overcoming adversity.

Reading the book, I was totally engrossed with Andy’s story throughout. Not only was it nicely written, but it was funny and extremely dark, with a raw honesty, plenty of Scouse humour and vivid imagery. There were moments in the book where I did laugh in places, and others which had a solemn tone that brought a tear, especially with Andy’s love for his family, and of how his late mother passed away from leukaemia, when he was twelve. Indeed, the theme of family is a constant thread, that links and illuminates his story beautifully.

Overall, I loved every minute reading the book, which took me two days as I could not put it down. Andy’s story is certainly an uplifting one, that is an honest portrait of a remarkable individual, who has endured and experienced plenty. Just reading the book’s closing words encapsulates the image of a proud family man, and an inspirational hero, for everyone to look up to.

I had the pleasure of meeting Andy at an event in Liverpool last year, where I was able to briefly chat with him. I found him to be very humble, kind, funny, and approachable, in other words a true Scouser. By reading Andy’s story, I was able to relate it to my own background with overcoming challenges, which for me being autistic, is overcoming my disability, graduating from university and working in IT. In addition, I discovered we also share similar passions, for running and supporting Liverpool Football Club.

There will be many others who will also relate to Andy’s story, as he is an example of how you can change your life for the better. I seriously recommend You’ll Never Walk, as it is of the greatest books, that I have ever had the privilege of reading, and the story of Andy Grant is one that deserves to be discovered by millions. Therefore, if you want to be inspired and be shown that anything is possible. this book is for you.

Finally, I would like to thank Andy for sharing his story, and to Phil Reade for ghost-writing the book.

You can follow Andy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can also listen to him on The Leg It podcast on YouTube.

You will not be disappointed at all!

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.