Physical Education


Golf_finalGreenGolf has been played for centuries, and is played by 55 million people, in 206 countries worldwide.  A little known fact is that a study from Sweden showed that the average golfer lives 5 years longer than those that don’t play, regardless of age, gender, and earnings.
But while conditions in Scotland were tough for professionals at the Old Course in St Andrew’s leading to the British Open finishing a day late, they were positively clement compared to what awaited us in Mongolia. The Genghis Khan Country Club is elaborately named, and hosts one of 4 golf courses in Mongolia. However it was not golf as we know it, with temperatures dipping to -40, where celcius and farenheight meet and the greens were completely frozen just as we hoped.
Driving Range and clubhouseAfter a few rapid practice swings, with the Terelj Gorge and the Khenti mountains as a backdrop we set off  to play. Standard equipment would not work in these conditions, so we were grateful to Titleist for the bright yellow golf balls, and winter beanies, and to Footjoy for their winter gloves.  These have now been tested in the coldest conditions and helped us enormously.  Nevertheless preferred lies were in operation as the balls frequently lodged in the snow, and the ball travelled a shorter distance possibly due to the extreme sub-zero temperatures.  A new form of golf has emerged called speedgolf- a combination of golf and playing as quickly as possible, which is pretty much what we did to counter the conditions.
Paul_TitleistPaul Dunstan, an associate championship director with the European Tour golf played the best round of the day, including chipping in off a TV camera, taking the crown from David Scott who had come out on top at Wild Golf Namibia, where golf was played in temperatures of +40 degrees, in the world’s largest bunker, the Namib desert. Future events are tentatively planned for the Himalaya, and the Salt flats of Bolivia.



There is starting to be a bit of press interest in the trip to Outer Mongolia. Here is a little info, in case it is helpful.  Currently at the airport, it should be a cracker!
With average temperatures of -40 Celsius, and the lowest density of human habitation on earth, Mongolia in winter is widely considered one of the most beautiful, yet savage places on earth.  Perhaps it is unsurprising that few have attempted any serious endurance challenges there in winter, but January 2016 will see a band of hardy British adventurers attempt the inaugural Genghis Khan Ice Marathon, run not on land, but along the frozen Tuul gol river, an area heavily populated with wolves, with the route patrolled by teams of huskies to ensure their safety.
Genghis Khan Ice Marathon start
These challenges have been set by expedition leader David Scott of Sandbaggers ( , a veteran of over 20 trips to Mongolia, and Dr Andrew Murray.
Scott, 42, from Glasgow, who is also Mongolian Honorary Consul for Scotland:
“Effort alone will not be enough.  Competitors will need to prepare themselves thoroughly for the frigid conditions, have the necessary quality clothing, and need a fair slice of luck, particularly with the weather. We have several teams of huskies to resupply runners, and ensure interactions with the local wildlife are safe.  And although there is a chance of failure, this is an area of extreme beauty, of vast skies, unique culture, and a rich history. It is also an opportunity for a world first. The runners are no strangers to extreme endurance, and they come from all corners of the globe.
It’s a real privilege to be involved in furthering relations between Mongolia and Scotland.  This is the latest in a series of sporting and cultural events and I’m particularly honoured to be attending the 5th Ulan Bator Burns supper with such illustrious company, in advance of the event itself.’
Murray, 35 from Edinburgh, who works as a Sports and Exercise Doctor with University of Edinburgh and is a Merrell brand ambassador added
Training in Scotland
“It is human nature to test yourself, and try and test your own body’s limits.  I can’t say that my support crew has ever been a pack of huskies before, but I’ll be giving it everything I have to get to the finish and avoid frostbite and hypothermia. Conditions are expected to be -35 to minus 40, but it is likely to feel a little colder with the wind chill. But all those hours training up in the Scottish hills in winter whilst everyone else is enjoying their Christmas festivities will be worth it. Everyone will look to do well, but the principle objective is to finish, and have a full complement of fingers and toes to go home with- Dave Scott is the best in the business and will give us every chance.
Outer Mongolia is beyond spectacular. Where else could you run down an ice river in an area so steeped in history, with the prospect of a Burns supper, complete with a pipe band to look forward to when we arrive in Ulan Bator. In this endeavour, many of us are looking to promote the value of regular exercise for health. Even walking 30 minutes 5 times per week, makes you on average happier, and helps you live 7 years longer than couch potatoes.”
Shona Thomson, who has run marathons on all seven continents and the North Pole, is heading up the fundraising for RDA. Shona, who is sponsored by Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports, said,
Mongolian community on the Tuul river
“It’s incredible to be involved in this expedition and I’m looking forward to meeting old and new friends. I’ve got several objectives for the trip. Primarily, I want to raise a lot of funding for Riding for the Disabled (RDA) and the Scottish Association of Mental Health (SAMH). In addition to running the marathon, I’ll also be riding a Mongolian pony to help raise awareness of RDA. I’ve not ridden for years so I’m hoping that at a minimum the pony has been broken in!
I’m also looking forward to experiencing a new culture and visiting a country I might never have otherwise got to see. It’ll be wonderful to see the beautiful landscapes on the marathon course.
The expedition will support Scottish Charities Riding for the Disabled Association and the Scottish Association for Mental Health, whilst legacy work in Mongolia will see the building of gers (homes) for needy families, and the donation of medical equipment to rural communities
Our fundraising link and video can be seen here:
Fundraising link
Fundraising video
The event will be supported by expedition organisers Sandbaggers, while Paisley based Digitalpict Photography will provide event & expedition photography, and HUTC will capture documentary and news video footage.
Fundraising link
For further information, please contact
Dave Scott (expedition organiser, logistics/safety/Mongolian liaison) 07717755166
Andrew Murray (athlete)
Shona Thomson (RDA) 07967975872

Physical Education


The finish line for a marathon is always one that requires considerable work to get there. I knew that reaching the finish at Loch Rannoch, having had the opportunity to run around the Loch in it’s full autumn glory would be extremely worthwhile, but I could not even think about the finish standing on the start line.
Loch Rannoch- thanks Jimbo Ramsay for the snap
My nose was sufficiently blocked that I simply could not breathe out of it. My pulse rate was a good 30 beats a minute faster than normal. Due to a minor packing issue I had not got any of my running kit with me, and had had to dive into the supermarket to pick up some food, and the other things I would need. I had slept very poorly due to an over-excited baby daughter and an early start.
The feeling of not wanting to put one foot in front of the other is familiar to me.  I often get it when it is raining outside, or I have not had a decent sleep. I usually combat it by putting some music on if these factors are at play, but in this case, chatting to a few friends that had done the course before and declared it a belter enthused me sufficiently to set off.
Scotland is a country like no other in terms of the way that light shifts depending on the season and time of day. The trees looked like a technicolour dreamcoat, partly draped in a variety of autumn shades.  Making a series of disgusting noises due to blocked sinuses, I set off up the road, leaving the eventual winner Lee to set the early pace. Running at a comfortable rate, and having no expectations allowed me to enjoy the colours, and the tremendous support of all the marshalls, and spectators.  I am pretty sure I snorted out a greater volume of bogeys than  volume of fluid I took in- drinking and eating pretty much needed me to stop.
The Loch Rannoch marathon has been absent from the calendar for 20 years. It is fantastic that it is back. Both this, and the Loch Katrine marathon offer fabulous courses, and excellent organisation. It is difficult not to enjoy a scenic run in such a setting.  The finish was a treat for me, the first that my daughter Nina had attended. As I rounded the final corner, there she was in her buggy, asleep on the job!  On a gently undulating course, I was pleased to finish in 2hrs 50, good enough for 2nd place overall although well behind Lee.   The added bonus was that in the absence of my usual trainers I had my shoes (Merrell All Out Terra Trail) for the Genghis Khan Ice Marathon in the car so wore them instead.  Perhaps more aggressive than my usual road shoes (All Out Rush) they were comfy and got the job done well.
Loch Rannoch finish with Nina
In terms of what is next, the big one is heading out to Mongolia in January. Ahead of this I will be doing a load of running and may pick up a race or two.



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.



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 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.
Merrell UK



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,

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 . Or you can purchase them on the day on the gate at the marquee or in the Footworks shop.
Merrell UK

  1. There is more info about the vital work of Medic 1 at
  3. Further information about Two Hours:The Quest To Run The Impossible Marathon

For further information
Ed Caesar
Andrew Murray
Dave Caesar



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.
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.




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  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



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
That is what the Archies Mountain Challenge Team(  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)



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
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 or
(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

Andrew & Donnie, running up Mount Kilimanjaro
Running Mt Kilmanjaro