Since April I have been raising money for Alzheimer’s Research UK. They fund vital research into the nature, causes and treatments for dementia. This is a cause very close to my heart as my mum is living with Alzheimer’s.
The Running Down Dementia Challenge is organised every year by Alzheimer’s Research UK. It’s a great challenge that anyone can do. Last year I signed up and managed to complete 250km over the five months (April-August) which was quite an achievement for me as I hadn’t ran for years before. This year I decided that I would push myself by doubling my target distance.
It certainly hasn’t been easy and I’ve learned a lot along the way. With only two weeks to go until then end of the challenge I thought I would share some of the key lessons that I have picked up from this year’s challenge.
Seeking help early
Midway through my challenge I got very sore and stiff Achilles and found it hard even walking down stairs. It was much worse than the normal aches I could get after a long run and was worried that it could be the start of a much bigger problem. My GP recommended that I go to a physio – I’m very glad that I heeded their advice.
Breaking it down into smaller chunks
The key piece of advice that the physio gave me was to run shorter distances but more often. They also suggested I try to slow down and maybe even go back to run-walk-run. Previously I had been trying to cover the distance over a maximum of 3 runs per week. This wasn’t a good strategy. So I changed my approach and ran 4 or 5 times per week but over shorter distances.
Time seems to be an increasingly rare commodity. Juggling family life, commuting and work plus running 4 to 5 times a week has been challenging. But I had to find new ways to fit in mid-week runs. Running to and from work has been a big help in getting my mileage up – and it’s had the added bonus of giving me more energy and helping me focus throughout the day.
Along the way I have had a few set-backs but have managed to stick to my plan. This would’ve been much harder without the support of family and friends. My weekly Sunday run with a group of friends has been a real motivator to keep going. But more than that I’ve been motivated by the importance of raising funds to help tackle this terrible disease. Every time someone has donated it has spurred me on to run a little more.
Over the last year quite a lot has changed but running has been a constant part of my weekly routine. It has made me healthier, happier and much more resilient. With this year’s challenge nearly over I plan to keep going and am already looking forward to the challenge next year. In the meantime I’m delighted to have raised over £300 and ran over 460km.
There is still time to donate. Any amounts are greatly appreciated. You can see my full progress and donate here: https://runningdowndementia2019.everydayhero.com/uk/ian-1