ONE MONTH TO GO: Yoga and a Tale of Two Tunnels

It’s now less than five weeks until Marathon Day, and you’ll be pleased to hear that I’ve decided to start taking things seriously.

In fact part of the reason for this overdue update is my much more regular running schedule. Having never been a morning person, I’m now managing to force myself out of bed earlier than ever before to clock some mileage before starting the day.

I’ve even complemented this regime by attending my first yoga class.

Walking into the changing rooms for the first time and immediately being confronted with another man’s penis, I very nearly turned around and walked back out.

But hey, it’s yoga man.

Yo-go with it.

I’d been hearing a lot about how practising yoga can be really helpful for runners, and after dipping an outstretched toe into it last week, I’ll be trying to make time for this on a regular basis now as well. At least everyone is clothed for the actual classes.

I also undertook an accidental twelve-mile run along the Thames last weekend.

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Greenwich Foot Tunnel
Having crossed from the Isle of Dogs via the Greenwich Foot Tunnel (opened in 1902), I thought I could cross back through another tunnel upriver.

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Closed entrance of the Thames Tunnel
As it turns out, the Thames Tunnel (completed in 1843) has been used exclusively by trains since 1869… Not quite sure what I was thinking there. I rerouted to cross Tower Bridge, which added a few extra miles, but was probably safer than the train tracks.

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Most of you by now will know that I’m running the marathon for Epilepsy Research UK. Epilepsy was in the news last week when Harrison Ford spoke publicly about his daughter Georgia’s experience of the condition. Apparently she was misdiagnosed for years before somebody worked it out:

“I said to myself this is Los Angeles, we have some of the best doctors in the world, they must know what’s wrong with her. But nothing was diagnosed as epilepsy.”

Georgia has since responded really well to treatment, but there are thousands of others who don’t have access to this, or who haven’t even been properly diagnosed. I’m running to raise money for all these people, and anything you can give to help will be so, so appreciated.

You can visit my fundraising page below. Thanks so much for all your support. Not long to go now…

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lukedavisbrighton16

Six weeks to go: No more excuses…

Things are getting serious now.

Looks like I’m actually gonna have to run this thing.

It’s going to require way more discipline over the next six weeks than I’ve had of late… but at least the sun came out this week!

I’ve just returned from this week’s Park Run at Mile End Park (literally, I haven’t even showered yet), and was a lot happier with my performance on this occasion. Turning up on time was a good start. So far these 5ks have been a really nice way to balance the longer stamina runs.

There were LOADS of people there. Thanks this week to the orange-shirted-and-shorted beardy man, who I just missed out on catching in the final straight. That sprint knocked a good few seconds off my time. And next week, I’m coming for you…

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Donations to my fundraising page for Epilepsy Research UK have still been coming in, so a huge thank you to all my recent sponsors. ‘Purple Day’, an epilepsy awareness day started in 2008 by a young Canadian girl with the condition is coming up this year on 24th March. It’s now a global event which does a lot to boost fundraising and public awareness. I’ll probably be pestering you lovely people for support even more on that date so be prepared!

My JustGiving page is listed below as always. Donations all go towards increasing our understanding of treating this condition, which affects so many people’s lives on a daily basis.

Much love x

https://www.justgiving.com/lukedavisbrighton16

Bart Simpson’s head and a visit to prison

My inadvertent running art is improving.

Returning from a nice neat five-miler today, I was pretty happy to see that I’d managed to accidentally draw Bart Simpson’s head with my route. A big improvement on recent squiggles.

Small victories, eh?

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I’d been planning on hitting the Wormwood Scrubs Park Run for a change of scene, but decided that sleep was the more pressing issue, so set off on a solitary jog around mid-morning. Dodging the crowd seemed to pay off, and I got a good look at a couple of declining West London landmarks on my way round.

First up was the BBC Television Centre, bastion of the Beeb since its opening in 1960. Having closed its doors in 2013, demolition work began earlier this month at this iconic site, which will be replaced by housing and leisure units within a couple of years. All you could see through the glass doors of reception was a cardboard cut-out of Chris Evans’ new Top Gear team, apparently left behind.

Wormwood Scrubs Prison was built a little further north in 1891. Over the years it has been host to an infamous IRA protest, as well as inmates including Charles Bronson, Keith Richards, and Pete Doherty. Along with the UK’s other Victorian prisons, Wormwood has been earmarked by the Justice Minister Michael Gove for potential closure.

These probably aren’t the kind of sights I’d be seeking out on a normal Saturday jaunt, so I’m glad that running has given me the chance to explore further afield. If anyone can suggest any other London locations for urban exploration then feel free to drop them in the comments!

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Epilepsy news this week mainly involved the publication of a report, endorsed here by the head of Epilepsy Society, pushing for improvement in diagnosis and treatment. There is a significant disparity up and down the country in the effectiveness of local services, at a time when neurological services in general are seemingly increasingly neglected.

Research into improving the treatment of this condition is ever more important, and is the reason why I’m running the Brighton Marathon this April (and it’s now almost March!?).

If you’ve been reading this blog but haven’t yet donated, please check out my page, and if you could give even a small amount towards the cause it would be immensely appreciated.

Thanks once again to all.

https://www.justgiving.com/lukedavisbrighton16

Am I a ‘runner’ yet? / Katie Hopkins undergoes surgery

It’s been a few days since writing or running has happened. Oops.

And I can’t use the weather as an excuse for both…

With less than two months to go, I’m at the stage where I’m just about running half the distance I’ll need to eventually, and I’m likewise almost halfway to my fundraising target. I’ve also noticed that running is becoming increasingly a part of my consciousness, even when I’m not actually doing it.

Can I call myself a runner yet?

I’ve been blabbing enough on social media by now for the M-word to come up at pretty much every dinner and party with friends. Even when I’m on my own, I’m worrying disproportionately about niggling injuries and how they affect next week’s run timetable.

I almost look like a proper runner as well, with my phone-holding arm strap thing, and a new stretchy long-sleeved under-top (ok, I don’t know all the jargon yet), prescribed for me by a girlfriend concerned about my elbow temperature.

I’ve also downloaded and listened to the two-part BBC Food Programme on running diets. The experts reckon that early humans were constantly on the run in search of food, much like wild pack animals today. Even the elderly and very young members of the group would keep up, which makes me feel slightly better about certain Park Runners that finished ahead of me last week…

Basically, I’m a long way off the Kenyans described in the programme, who pretty much run a marathon every morning and still have time to chill before lunch.

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In Epilepsy news, scare-mongering Daily Mail columnist and celebrity epileptic Katie Hopkins went into surgery yesterday to try and cure herself of the condition. I briefly saw Hopkins at an event two weeks ago and she seemed completely friendly and normal. She’s said some absolutely disgraceful things in her time, but it kind of makes you wonder how much of it is put on to make a name for herself. Anyway, it will be interesting from a researcher’s point of view to see what comes of the op.

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Big thanks are of course due once again to all you amazing people who have donated to my page recently. I’ve not been pushing it much outside of social media so if anyone has any ideas on how I can keep momentum please let me know. My figuring is that a lot of people giving just a little will go a long way.

That’s all for now – thanks folks! x

https://www.justgiving.com/lukedavisbrighton16

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Back on the horse: Park Run take 2

Aaaaand we’re back!

I managed to make my second ever Park Run at the second attempt this morning. (Just.)

For the uninitiated, Park Run is a global phenomenon whereby thousands of runners of all ages and abilities get together to do a timed 5km round their local green space at 9am every Saturday.

In true Saturday morning style, I turned up at Mile End Park about two minutes after the race had started (despite legging it there from my building) but was allowed to join in anyway. Clearly, it wasn’t going to be the week to set a personal best, so instead I set my sights on catching whoever in front of me was wearing the most garish fluorescent running gear.

This gamification reached its satisfying conclusion when I was able to sprint past two human highlighters in the final straight.

Including the there-and-back, with a detour via the post office, the run totalled about nine miles, and resulted in a gloriously messy Strava route (although I’m not quite at the Claire Wyckoff level of artistic immaturity just yet – I recommend checking out her site if you haven’t already).

On a more serious note, I want to say another massive thank you to everyone who has donated to my page over the past week. I’ve gone from a quarter of my target filled to a third in no time, and I really can’t do justice here to how grateful I am to all. Special thanks to the mysterious ‘Patrice Le-bouf-douche-tete Zizezjg‘ for their generous contribution – if anyone knows the true identity of this benevolent soul then please let me know!

If you’re enjoying this blog, and my attempt to compliment it with actual running, it would be amazing if you could take a moment to share this and my Justgiving page with anyone else that might take an interest.

Until next time!

https://www.justgiving.com/lukedavisbrighton16

 

Off to a sniffly start

Training hasn’t exactly gone to plan this week.

 

Feeling somewhat worse for wear after a weekend in Bristol, on Tuesday afternoon I made it round a squiggly-looking six-miler out to Canning Town and back via Stratford (as my new Strava account can attest to).

 

It was pretty windy up on the Greenway, and by the next day the man-flu was really kicking in. I’d intended my next update to be a triumphal post-Park Run Saturday Morning Special. Instead all I have for you is a load of snotty tissues and regret. Ironic, given that the topic of my last post was ‘health’…

 

Hoping to lay relatively low so I can hit the ground running next week.

 

On the upside, I am totally amazed by the donations that have already come in to my JustGiving page. Seeing the total starting to rise has made me more determined than ever to get out there next week and back on the horse. Thank you so much to everyone who’s already donated.

 

In epilepsy-related news, a few days ago it was announced that the first person in the UK to trial a treatment whereby a robot created a “sat-nav” of their brain, seems to have been “cured” of epilepsy. It’s still early days to tell if their condition is gone for good, but this story goes to show the amazing leaps forward that can be made by pioneering research and technology (which YOUR donations will be going towards).

 

Just a short one for today. Hopefully more running to talk about next week.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Luke x

The Challenge

Health.

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Something you take for granted when you have it, then cling to desperately when the medical tables turn.

 

I guess I’ve been pretty lucky in the twenty-three years I’ve been on this earth to count my numbers of hospital visits and days off school/work on my fingers. Although common sense told me otherwise, my health never seemed like something I needed to actively maintain.

 

My thinking about this began to change last year. Somebody close to me (a healthy person) had a fit, and after these continued, was diagnosed with epilepsy. Typically, I realised how little I knew about this condition, and was shocked by the stats that a simple Google search immediately turned up.

 

Epilepsy affects around 1% of the global population (though one in fifty of us will have it at some point in our lives), with 80% of those affected living in developing countries. Despite ongoing research, in most cases the cause is not known, and a third of those with epilepsy don’t respond to the medication currently available.

 

Last year, I spontaneously decided to enter the Hackney Half Marathon in May. After speaking to a number of charities, I donated the £500 I raised in sponsorship to Epilepsy Research UK, the only charity in this country exclusively dedicated to researching epilepsy. It seemed like a good time and way to start taking health seriously, both others’ and my own.

 

This year, I’m running the Brighton Marathon in April for the same cause. The event is only twelve weeks away, and I can’t deny that I’m feeling extremely daunted by my self-set target of doubling both the distance and the fundraising figure I achieved last year.

 

Money is tight for most of us (I live in London and am only really semi-employed at the moment), but I hope that by writing this blog about my experiences over the next three months, I’ll convince a few of you to share what I’m doing, and invite your acquaintances to donate. I’m not after huge amounts from every person, but if lots give a little then collectively we can make a difference to the individuals and institutions pushing every day to combat this intrusive condition.

 

Thank you for reading. More to follow soon…

 

https://www.justgiving.com/lukedavisbrighton16