TURNING PEOPLE INTO COUCH POTATOES IS NOT A CURE FOR SPORTS CONCUSSION

Recognising and managing concussion properly is seriously important. After all, you only get one brain.  But if we do this, it is important we continue to advise people to take part in sport and physical activity- for the massive physical and mental health benefits that are available.

Here is a link below to a press release Catherine Calderwood Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, Willie Stewart who is a world leader in sports concussion and myself contributed to sharing these clear messages, based on an editorial in (the excellent British Journal of Sports Medicine).  If you agree, please feel free to share widely so we can work together to encourage safe sport for our children and adults.

http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Concussion-in-sport-1d9c.aspx

investmentsthatwork

WHAT I AM DOING NOW

This year has been another belter.  Jennie and I had our first baby Nina, who despite the occasional accident in the bath is a brilliant wee girl.  I have also done reasonably well in a few races, and Donnie Campbell and I completed the first run across the Namib desert.  This time last year, we had completed a run up the 10 highest mountains in Scotland in a day- another first.  From a work perspective I have worked as a leadership and management for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, a top team and a pleasure to work for.

Avoiding tarmac!

From now (August 2015) I have 3 priorities, the first of which is to spend a good amount of time with Jennie, Nina, family and friends.  Running wise, I’ll take part in Total Warrior- the mother of all obstacles courses, the Glencoe Marathon, and the Rannoch Marathon all in Scotland.  It is pretty likely I will race in Australia in December, before joining up with my friends from Sandbaggers to take on a huge adventure in Outer Mongolia in January 2016. We have hired 56 huskies for this trip, and will be joined by athletes from all over the world, details to follow.

From a work perspective, I will start a PhD, looking at physical activity for health and golf and health in particular. I am lucky to have outstanding supervisors, and I have just started getting my teeth into it.  I am also continuing to work for the European Tour Golf, the SportScotland Institute of Sport, and the Scottish Rugby Union, whilst if I can help with any illness of injury, then I work a Friday afternoon at FASIC, University of Edinburgh which hosts the Scottish Running, and Scottish Golf Clinics- and will be delighted to help if I can. We also have some top physiotherapists, sports massage, podiatrists and other folks that can help.

Scottish Running Clinic

I am delighted that my latest book “Running Your Best- Some Science and Medicine” has been so well received, with excellent reviews so far.  Thanks a tonne for all the kind emails and messages so far, and honest feedback very welcome via Lulu or Amazon also.  We have decided not to reprint my first book “Running Beyond Limits” and there are now only about 300 left with Amazon- so if you have not got a copy and want to then it may be worth snapping one up quickly!

Training in Edinburgh

I also have the pleasure of being involved with a few events, including the 2 hour marathon event tomorrow in Edinburgh http://www.edinburghemergencymedicine.com/summer-fair and the Glasgow Trail Running festival in late September.  As ever, thanks a tonne to those that support me including friends, family, my coach Donnie Campbell, web guru Arnaud Le Marie and all my sponsors.  A special mention also to Ross Lawrie not only for running the 95 mile West Highland Way dressed as spiderman but producing my 2nd book through his company Purple Reign.

Andrew

Merrell UK

THE 2 HOUR MARATHON COMES TO EDINBURGH

There is a  fantastic event Sunday 23rd in Edinburgh giving you the chance to run fast, watch others running at World Record pace, and hear about how the 2 hour barrier for the marathon can be broken. Tickets can be bought here, http://www.edinburghemergencymedicine.com/summer-fair

Running School in Kenya

Running School in Kenya

I am looking forward to a run and supporting the event, raising cash for the excellent Medic 1.

Please share this and the info below as widely as possible, it will be a top event, supporting an excellent cause and the chance to win great prizes including pairs of Merrell shoes!

Breaking two hours for a marathon will be a moment of history, pushing beyond what most thought the human body was capable of. People remember where they were when Mt Everest was climbed, or when the mile was first run in under four minutes by Sir Roger Bannister.  It will be the same for the first sub-two-hour marathon. On Sunday, 23rd August, at the Meadows in Edinburgh, a terrific charity event will offer people the chance to run at two-hour marathon pace for a few hundred yards (or to watch others try) and to hear from the expert who has researched what it would take for an athlete to smash through the two-hour barrier. The two-hour marathon event is part of the Medic 1 Summer Fair, which will offer a range of fun filled activities and will help raise money to support the Medic 1 Trust – saving lives, and providing better emergency healthcare in South East Scotland.

Ed Caesar, author of Two Hours:The Quest To Run The Impossible Marathon said: “Two hours is running’s Everest- a feat once seen as impossible for the human body. Now we can glimpse that mountain top.  On the 23rd, I’ll talk about how this could be potentially achieved, and about my years of researching the world’s greatest runners. It’s also going to be great fun watching people try to run at two-hour marathon pace on the treadmills at Footworks.”

Dr Andrew Murray, a Sport and Exercise doctor at Edinburgh University and Scottish International distance runner, said: “This will be an outstanding day.  I’ll look forward to trying to run at World Record marathon pace if only for a few minutes at most, and hearing from Ed. Both Ed and myself have spent time with top British athletes, but also in Kenya, which is home to the single most concentrated production line of world class talent on earth.  His insights into the culture, and how you can run faster yourself, will be fascinating.  And every penny raised will go towards helping support emergency medical care in Scotland. The team locally already do a tremendous job. If you have a cardiac arrest in Edinburgh, you are more likely to survive than if you had one practically anywhere else in the world”

St Patrick’s High School Pupils

St Patrick’s High School Pupils

Dr Dave Caesar, Consultant in Emergency Medicine, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh added “The Medic 1 Trust has been supporting the provision of specialist pre-hospital care to the people of South East Scotland since 1988, and funds equipment and training to the team based in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh Emergency Department.  This summer fair will raise vital funds for this charity, and should be a great family afternoon out in the meadows, with lots of activities for all ages and abilities, cake stalls, ice cream, and a chance to hear from award-winning writer Ed Caesar about his book “Two Hours, The Quest to Run the Impossible Marathon.  He will also be signing copies.  The event is kindly supported by Footworks Edinburgh, Penguin Random House UK, Di Rollo’s Ice Cream & Merrell UK.  It is also a way of promoting regular physical activity- we know regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health, a message we strongly believe in as doctors and health professionals.” To buy tickets, please follow the link here . http://www.edinburghemergencymedicine.com/summer-fair Or you can purchase them on the day on the gate at the marquee or in the Footworks shop.

Merrell UK
ENDS

  1. There is more info about the vital work of Medic 1 at
  2. Www.edinburghemergencymedicine.com/medic1-about/<http://Www.edinburghemergencymedicine.com/medic1-about/>
  3. Further information about Two Hours:The Quest To Run The Impossible Marathon
  4. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Two-Hours-Quest-Impossible-Marathon/dp/0670921890

For further information

Ed Caesar ewcaesar@gmail.com

Andrew Murray docandrewmurray@googlemail.com

Dave Caesar Dave.Caesar@nhslothian.scot.nhs.uk

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY- LEARNING AND TEACHING MATERIALS

Every single day, I get emails asking about resources to learn about physical activity for health, or resources that could be used to teach about this.  I think it is fantastic the momentum that is building, recognising that this can help ourselves, but it is also something we can share with friends, family and patients.

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Below is a list of really helpful resources, aimed largely at health professionals that can be used freely. Thanks a tonne to Profs Chris Oliver (@cyclingsurgeon) , Nanette Mutrie (@nanettemutrie) and Edinburgh University for pulling them together into one place.

riskreductionPA

HOW DO YOU EAT AN ELEPHANT?

Walking down stairs is a long drawn out affair. Each step brings a slight wince.  My mind goes back 48 hours to a dark, drenched mountainside in the highlands of Scotland. Cold, wet, caked in mud, but forcing a path forward to contribute to the teams efforts.

There are 130 mountains in Scotland over 1000metres, or 1km high. No-one had deliberately run these in a continuous journey.  That was the idea that struck Paul Fettes, as he surveyed a map of Scotland. Would it be possible?  How can we do it?

Here is the Archies Map you can use

Paul works as a doctor in Dundee, and together with his colleagues dreamed up the Archies Mountain Challenge. These 130 mountains, now dubbed “The Archies” constitute a challenge for anyone really looking to test themselves and enjoy the hills of Scotland.  How about we set the bar high thought Paul, and do them all as a continuous journey, running or walking each mountain, and cycling and kayaking between them. To make it more fun, he involved as many of his family, friends and work colleagues as possible.  After all, it would involve as much ascent as climbing Mount Everest 10 times.

It was a great honour to be asked to get involved  in the Archies Mountain Challenge  www.archiesmountainchallenge.org  and the 2 weekends I spent with the challenge were as incredible as they were different. The first mountain was Ben Wyvis, north west of Inverness, and whilst the runners hared up the hill, carrying the baton (a fluffy rabbit) with them, I walked up with a group walk alongside my wife Jennie, while we carried our baby Nina with us. Despite variable conditions Nina loves the great outdoors, yelling and giggling her way up the mountain before we turned round as the heavens opened.

Before I had the chance to rejoin the challenge for the final push, another 100 mountains had been climbed, some in sun, some wading through knee deep snow but always with the rabbit in tow. Of the hills we climbed on the last weekend, the most memorable for me were Schiehallion- named as “the Fairy Mountain of the Caledonias”, which saw another group event of families and friends ascending into the (predictable) cloud and a further outing involved climbing around Ben Challum from Glen Lyon and taking in some summits there including “Mountain of the great waterfall and big white horse”. With weary legs I chased Joe Symonds skyward as we both laughed at the disparity in climbing ability. Joe has been ranked as highly as 4th in the world for mountain running, and as ever I was eating his dust as dark fell. We had been scheduled to fit these mountains in in a bid to help the team complete the challenge the next day, and with anxiety we surveyed the map. We had gone too far, and missed one of the mountains. We would need to retrace our steps, and find Ben Challum. We could see the length of our arms and no further.  A cairn!  The summit filled us both with the relief of not letting the team down, and we descended through the boulderfield and mountain paths to some warming soup.Ben Wyvis. The first Mountain

The following day saw the team cycle down to the appropriately named Rest and be Thankful.  A new record had been set, with over 40 people contributing to setting a new target.  The challenge had the aim of setting a new and achievable challenge for hill lovers in the UK. The Munros (the 282 mountains in Scotland that are over 3000 feet (914 metres) are spectacular, but can take a while, and taking on The Archies is something people can do.

Creighton Adams once asked “how do you eat an elephant?” The answer is either one bit at a time if trying yourself, or to involve people and get the job done together. Climbing each of the 130 mountains over 1000 metres could be done in bite size chunks at weekends by individuals/ groups while the Archies Mountain Challenge succeeded in a single push relay.  Although I had a fairly minor part in it, I was proud to join Paul, Ben and the team in raising awareness for the Archies Foundation (please donate if you can at the link below), and setting a new challenge that we hope 100 years from now people are still taking on.

Link to donate https://www.justgiving.com/archierabbit/

Eating_an_elephant

RUNNING ALL THE 1000 METRE MOUNTAINS IN SCOTLAND IN A ROW

Ben Wyvis. The first MountainSounds amazing, does it not?  Running all 130 of the 1000 metre mountains in Scotland, and cycling or kayaking between them.  Follow it here http://www.archiesmountainchallenge.org.uk/follow-us.html

That is what the Archies Mountain Challenge Team(www.archiesmountainchallenge.org.uk)  are currently doing, and with legs weary but spirits high, the end is in sight.  Myself, my wife Jennie and baby Nina joined the team on the first mountain, Ben Wyvis 30th of May as the cyclists screeched into the car park, handing the baton to the runners who tore up the mountain leaving us fun walkers deeply impressed and in their wake.

Since then over 100 metric mile mountains have been summited, initially in conditions that bore no resemblance to summer, with deep snow into the glens and winds howling between the crags of An Teallach and other challenges.

The idea has been the brain child of Paul Fettes, and Ben Ulyatt, medical doctors based in Dundee who hope many will try and climb “The Archies” in future, and have cycled, ran and supported much of the route themselves. The idea has been to raise money for the Archies Foundation, supporting and the Tayside Children’s hospital, supporting children in the North East of Scotland.

Sun and Snow- Welcome to Scotland

Nina enjoyed her first venture high into the hills of Scotland, but at 9 months is too busy drinking milk and filling her nappies to join in the fun this weekend. But this weekend I am looking forward to joining in the fun, and running a load of mountains with my good friend Joe Symonds to help the bid to finish the challenge by midnight Sunday and help our friends at BBC’s The Adventure Show film the epic. It is not clear whether that will be possible, but follow the live tracker here to find out how Paul, Ben, and our merry band get on.  If you are able, please share this challenge via facebook, twitter or with your networks which will help massively in keeping us going, and raise vital funds for the Archies Foundation.

Wish I had been there!

Look forward to posting pictures of the sunshine (maybe)

Andrew

www.archiesmountainchallenge.org

www.facebook

tracker http://www.archiesmountainchallenge.org.uk/follow-us.html

Donate https://www.justgiving.com/archierabbit/

 

RUNNING FASTER AND LONGER- SOME TIPS

I often get asked how to run faster, and how to maintain that pace. If there is one thing I have learned from running and sport in general, it is to involve the right people. So the short answer if I am looking to improve my speed and endurance is I will ask my coach, Donnie Campbell. As well as representing Scotland, and achieving many outstanding results himself, Donnie is a fully qualified coach working with athletes, from complete beginners to international class athletes.

Donnie kindly agreed to share his secrets, which I am sure will help you run faster, for longer

Enjoy!

At the end of the Namib Desert

How to Run Faster for Longer

Whether you are running a 10km, a 1/2 marathon, a marathon or an ultra marathon runners want to know how they can run faster for longer. There is no simple answer, there is not one miracle type of training, supplement or food. It comes down to hard work and doing a number of things well. I will briefly outline some training principles that if you apply to your own training then it will help you run faster for longer. As I said above to improve you will require to apply more than one of these.

  1. Learn to Run

Running is a skill! Everyone can kick a football but some people can kick a football better than others. Well, running is the same. Everyone can run but some people are more efficient at running than others. Working on your running biomechanics to make you a more efficient runner will help you run faster for longer. For some basic info on how to run more efficiently check out these videos

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVxY8Wh8I90 or https://www.youtube.com/watch?

v=zSIDRHUWlVo

(note you don’t need to be barefoot or in vibram fivefingers to run more efficiently)

  1. Build on Your Base Milage and Be Specific

The key to getting your legs used to running your desired distance is simply by putting in the miles.  Building the mileage up week by week. As a guide you should not increase your weekly / monthly mileage by more than 10% per week. Be sure to keep your runs specific to the event you’re taking part in. If it’s a flat run, train on the flat but if it’s a hilly run, train in the hills. Also try and avoid running on pavements as much as possible to reduce the risk of injuries.

Pavement damages joints, tendons, ligaments, and muscles. The more you can run on grass, or dirt, the better off you are.

Avoiding tarmac!

  1. Speed Workout

Many people make the mistake of running too fast on their steady, long and recovery runs and then running too slow on their speed sessions because their legs are fatigued. Your steady and longer runs should be run at a pace where you can hold a conversation and where your heart is working at no more than average of 75% of your maxHeart Rate (HR). Depending on what your race is will depend on what speed session you will do but no matter what distance, your speed sessions are a vital ingredient for running faster for longer.

Hill Sprints / Short Intervals (100m, 400m, 800m,)

These will increase your VO2 max and running speed as well as build power in your legs. Sample hills sessions could look like; sprinting up a hill at 90-100% of max HR for 1-2 minutes followed by a recovery walk or jog back down the hill.

Tempo / Fartlek Sessions

These are again best run over similar terrain to what you will be racing on. For this you’ll be looking run close to your race pace for a 10k but run for 45mins to an hour, helping push your lactate threshold. Tempo running is part of the staple training plan of many elite Kenyan distance runners.

  1. Core, Strength & Conditioning

It important to incorporate this into your training to reduce the risk of injury and also to help maintain your running form when you are fatigued therefore maintaining efficiency so finding yourself running faster for longer. I recommend active yoga, pilates sessions for core, also don’t forget back is included in core. Body and free weight exercises are good for developing legs and upper body strength and muscular endurance.

  1. Nutrition

You can’t out train a bad diet. This expression is particularly relevant in a society where a growing number of people think an hour or so of running should be rewarded with a takeaway!. Learning from the Elite Kenyan runners, you should be looking to fuel your training and body. Kenyan runners base their diets on complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and vegetables, fresh fruit, lean protein and natural fats. As guide to filling up your trolley at the supermarket is to think about what would typically grow in your garden and also sticking to the fresh food aisles and cooking your meals from scratch and avoiding ready meals and processed food. If you are all ready doing all of this in your training then you just have to improve on each principal and work harder if you want to be able to run Faster for Longer

About Donnie Campbell

Donnie Campbell, is one of Scotland’s top running coaches and is the founder and owner of Get Active Running (www.getactiverunning.ccom). He has worked with numerous athletes varying from complete beginners to national and international level athletes who have all seen improvement in performance under his coaching. Donnie knows what it takes to be successful as he has turned from a 17 stone jogger to one of Britain’s top ultra runners representing Scotland and  wining races all over the world. Get Active Running offers a range of services from one to one coaching, online coaching and training camps, for more info check out his website www.getactiverunning.com

Andrew & Donnie, running up Mount Kilimanjaro

Running Mt Kilmanjaro

FANTASTIC PROGRESS ON CONCUSSION

In a real first, sports and medics in Scotland have come together to produce really clear guidelines on identifying and managing concussion.

Concussion when not identified can lead to short and long term problems and can sometimes be fatal.

It is a tribute to Peter Robinson, Willie Stewart and all the other organisations involved that their are now guidelines right across Scotland on this important topic. They are launched today at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow event at Hampden.

Details are below- please share widely

EMBARGOED UNTIL 0600 TUESDAY 19 MAY 2015

 

Attn: Sports / News / Health / Picture Desks

 

IF IN DOUBT, SIT THEM OUT

SCOTTISH MEDICS & SPORTS UNITE TO MANAGE CONCUSSION

New guidance on how to manage concussion sustained during grassroots sport was launched at the Scottish sports and exercise medicine symposium at Hampden today.

The Government’s Chief Medical Officer, Catherine Calderwood, and Concussion Campaigner Peter Robinson were joined by senior medics from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, Scottish Football Association, Scottish Rugby Union, and the sportscotland institute of sport, who have all worked collaboratively to produce the new set of guidelines.

For the first time the guidance is not sport-specific, but is intended for the general public and grassroots participants across all sports, particularly where medics may not be in attendance.

Clear advice is given to ensure that concussion can be recognised quickly and managed effectively from the initial injury to a phased return to play using World Rugby’s latest guidelines.

The overriding message is that ALL concussions are serious and if in doubt, sit them out!

Speaking at the launch, Scottish Government’s Chief Medical Officer Catherine Calderwood said:

“As a mother and a doctor, I know that regular exercise is one of the best things we can do for our health – both physical and mental health.

“Unfortunately injuries happen and when concussion occurs we cannot afford to take chances – you only get one brain.

“When recognised and managed properly, the vast majority of concussed patients will recover completely, but if not recognised, or not treated properly then concussion can even be fatal.

“Peter Robinson, who tragically lost his son Ben after sustaining a concussion in a school match, has helped bring sport and medicine together to produce clear guidelines for understanding and managing concussion in Scotland, and we urge parents, coaches, schools, sports organisations and health professionals to use the Scottish Sports Concussion Guidelines”.

Concussion Campaigner Peter Robinson, from Northern Ireland, whose son Ben died in 2011 as a result of sustaining a double concussion during a school rugby match when he was only 14 years old, was delighted to support the launch.

Peter said:

“Awareness of the dangers of concussion in sport is improving since we lost Ben but there’s still a long way to go, both in grassroots and professional sport.  For too long concussion has not been taken seriously, and that has to change.

“With these guidelines we want to help those involved in sport, any sport, to recognise the signs of concussion and know how to deal with it there and then.  If you have any doubts then don’t take the risk, sit them out and get them checked out.

“We are not saying that you shouldn’t take part in sport, far from it, there are many benefits to taking part in sport.  However there are ways to make it safer and what could be more important than that?”

A team of eminent sports medics worked together to produce the guidelines, which they hope will enable those involved in sport at every level to understand how to respond to suspected concussion and reduce the risks, particularly for children and young adults.

Dr Willie Stewart, consultant neuropathologist, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, is the driving force behind bringing everyone together on this project:

“It is a significant achievement to establish a single, shared set of guidelines for sports concussion management across all Scottish grassroots and amateur sports.

“Through these guidelines, we have achieved a global first, right here in Scotland. However and more importantly for the management of concussion, we now have one definitive set of guidelines for everyone, no matter the sport or activity”.

Scottish International athlete Dr Andrew Murray from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, and University of Edinburgh, added:

“We know that taking part in sport and physical activity has massive health benefits – helping participants be happier and healthier but it is not without risk. If not recognised and managed properly, concussion can lead to health problems and can even be fatal.

“These guidelines are crystal clear. We need to take concussion seriously and remove anyone with a suspected concussion from the field of play: if in doubt, sit them out.

“This is important for relatives, coaches, schools and health professionals amongst others to have guidance on. Recognising concussion and removing that player from the field of play for medical attention is the safe and the right thing to do”.

Echoing that advice, Dr John MacLean from the Scottish Football Association said:

“The Scottish Football Association supports an ongoing programme of Sports First Aid training in football and these guidelines complement this knowledge.

“Concussion is a serious brain injury and the guidelines make the recognition of concussion and return to play clear for all involved in grassroots sport. If in doubt – sit them out”.

Scottish Rugby Chief Medical Officer, Dr James Robson, said:

 

“Sports-related concussion has required a cultural change.

 

“No longer should concussion be seen as a badge of honour but, rather, as a potentially serious medical problem.

 

“The guidelines provide the most up-to-date, best practice for all sports. The mantra has to be ‘you only get one head, use it, don’t lose it.”

 

Also attending the launch was Dr Niall Elliott from the sportscotland institute of sport, who said:

 

“At the sportscotland institute of sport we work with athletes at the performance end of the sports pathway. When those athletes compete on the world stage, there will be a qualified medic in place to identify and manage a suspected concussion, using established protocols.

 

“However, the majority of concussions do not take place at that level but involve people competing in grassroots sport, particularly children and young adults.  What this guide is designed to do, is to simplify the guidelines already in place so that they can be easily understood and implemented by members of the public.  The ultimate aim is to make sports participation safer, irrespective of what sport that is or where it is played”.

 

Professor Frank Dunn CBE, President, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow added:

 

“Concussion as a consequence of a sports injury provides a clear warning sign of impending serious complications. The evidence for this is incontrovertible and therefore the implementation of these well thought through and clearly set out guidelines is a major step forward in protecting participants from permanent brain damage.

 

“The pressure to get participants back on to the field of play must be resisted and acceptance of these guidelines by all will go a long way towards providing the best possible care for victims of concussion and potentially more serious brain injuries”.

 

Ends

 

Contacts:

 

Karen McCall, Senior Media Officer, sportscotland

T: 0141 534 6588 M: 07787 151015

Email: karen.mccall@sportscotland.org.uk

 

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow:

Elaine Mulcahy 07757 021595 / 0141 2273204 / media@rcpsg.ac.uk

 

 

Notes to Editors:

 

  • The Scottish Sports Concussion guidelines can be found on the sportscotland website at: sportscotand.org.uk/concussion
  • The guidelines were launched at the Scottish sports and exercise medicine symposium organised by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. The symposium is a major international event attended by more than 180 professionals in medicine and sport and features presentations from world leading experts including Sir Alex Ferguson and Dr Luis Serratosa (Real Madrid team doctor).  A full programme can be downloaded here. Contact Elaine Mulcahy (contact details above) for further information about the event.

 

HOME NATIONS 100KM CHAMPIONSHIPS 2015

Only 90km to go!

There are many reasons we run. It might be to keep fit, it might be to get the happy hormones going, and in addition I often use running to go somewhere new and for the buzz of competition.

The Anglo-Celtic Plate/ Home Nations 100km Championships 2015 was the chance to pull on a Scotland vest, work as part of a team, and test yourself against the clock, and the other Home Nations athletes. In 2014, the race had taken part in Kent, England where Scotland came 2nd in the team competition, and I ran 7-22, for 2nd in the Scottish Champs and 5th in the UK individually. Last year I felt as if I still had a quicker time in me, having had a hamstring issue, and it being a hot day.

But 2015 has been good to me, with Jennie and I having been joined by baby Nina, an expedition to Namibia, illness, and a hectic work schedule meaning – in short that I was absolutely miles short of the training I needed to do to be truly competitive this year.

This being the case, and having not raced in 2015 I had no idea how quickly to set off, in the picturesque village of Redwick, Wales. I set off with the group on 7 hour pace, some of the guys that I had run with last year, but with my lack of training and windy conditions after 12 km I backed right off, recognising this would be a 1 way ticket to destruction. So I ran the 100km pretty much solo, being wonderfully supported at each aid station by Scottish Athletics Val MacAuley, Craig Stewart, Lorna McMillan, and Noanie Heffron.

Ross Houston

 

Heading towards the finish, I knew that Scotland team mate Ross Houston had won the event in 6-43, the fastest time in the world this year- truly remarkable given he ran solo and with the windy conditions. Despite being almost an hour behind Ross, I was pleased to get the job done in 7-41, enough for 2nd in the Scottish Championships (having overtaken Grant Jeans at around halfway), and 6th in the Home Nations Champs.  Although my time was down on last year, due to various factors it was the absolute best I could do on the day, feeling I was having to dig deeper than a JCB for the last 20-30km. Grant MacDonald, a good friend who remarkably had fully recovered from a brain haemorrhage last year (not at the race) took 3rd in the Scottish Champs, and brought us home for 2nd in the team competition. England brought 5 very strong athletes, and there was no catching them.

The even better news for Scotland was in the ladies competition where Rosie Bell (2nd Overall in less than 9 hours), Charlotte Black, and Keziah Higgins clinched the title.

Triumphant Scotland Women's Team

A huge thanks first of all to Jennie and Nina for allowing me to do some training, despite the fact I am at work and abroad quite a bit. I’m looking forward to taking my girls on holiday next week. Also to my coach Donnie Campbell, Scottish Athletics endurance manager Adrian Stott for their sage advice and motivation, and to our fantastic support crew led by Val in Wales. A massive thanks also to Merrell UK, and my other sponsors for their unwavering support, and excellent equipment.

I am not sure where I will race next, but it will not be for at least 5 weeks. I feel like the tin man this morning.  Challenge wise, we have also found an absolutely outrageous possibility for early 2016, where access by vehicles is very difficult, but local packs of huskies are able to provide a support infrastructure.  More to follow.

Andrew

Merrell UK

UK PARLIAMENT RECOGNISES MAJOR ACTION NEEDED ON PHYSICAL INACTIVITY

I remember when en route running to the Sahara desert feeling a little ashamed. I had been a doctor for about 6 years, but ironically (given that I had just a 4300km run to the Moroccan desert) had not grasped just how good exercise is for health.  I had not been communicating this to my patients prior to this time

PA_capsule

Simply put regular exercise gets the happy hormones going and makes you happier. It also helps prevent and treat about 40 major diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart attacks and dementia (although athlete’s foot is more likely).

Worldwide (with a few honourable exceptions including Western Australia and Brazil, policy makers have been burying their head in the sand and hoping that the problem of physical inactivity would go away. This is consigning our children to a darker economic future than is necessary (type 2 diabetes costs the UK NHS £1million per hour) and stopping people be as happy and healthy as is possible.

So the report produced by the UK Parliament Health Committee is welcome, and highlights that major action is needed. I do think in Scotland more has been done, but we need to increase the pace and scale of what is happening.

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/health-committee/news/activity-diet-health-substantive/

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmselect/cmhealth/845/845.pdf

Here are a few really useful concrete recommendations from the Scottish Academy of Royal Colleges on what the NHS could do, which I contributed to in my role with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow.

http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/pdf/SA%20Position%20Statement.pdf

investmentsthatwork