Six Simple Lessons from 3 months running 10kms

Any idiot can run

Six simple lessons…

  1. Find Purpose. Write down and share your goals
  2. Never underestimate the power of extreme weather!
  3. Never eat a packet of chocolate covered hobnobs the night before a run
  4. Listen to your body – Man Flu is a real thing!
  5. Wear the right shoes, always tie up your laces (and your shorts)
  6. Stretch, dig deep, and push yourself and the hard work pays off


  1. Find Purpose. Write down and share goals

At the start of my journey I shared research suggesting writing down and sharing goals helps you achieve significantly more. In my experience a large part of this is the ‘oh crap, now I actually have to go through with this thing”, but what I have also found is that once you have shared your goals you will be surprised with the number of people that find a number of ways to go out of their way to support you. That’s both humbling and motivating.

My main motivation is driven from my experiences in the Gambia. Some inspiring experiences of the hard work and enterprising efforts to triumph over adversity, and others of feeling helpless to improve the otherwise dire circumstances of poverty and death.

Afruitica Development kabakama garden

I have personal motivation to use running as my ‘vehicle’ for change, with a desire to get fit, healthy, and focused.  How can I battle for health and nutrition of others, and not make the upmost of that which I have been fortunately blessed with. Health is slowly becoming a passion.


  1. Never underestimate the power of extreme weather!

So far I have run in the most beautiful rain storms, hail storms, snow blizzards, and gail force winds. Despite perhaps the grueling wind as I found in Southend (I have learnt the benefit of trying to plan a little better and run ‘with’ the wind where possible), However, I wouldn’t take back my other experiences with extreme weather.

Motivating yourself to leave the comfort of your home to run in the rain can be a miserable prospect, but equip with the right mindset it can also be exhilarating! I still remember vividly leaving work after a day in the office to be hit by nasty cold winds and a dramatic hail storm. My first thought was this is miserable and I stopped to give up. Then I reflected on my day in the office, and picked up my heels (and my head) and sailed forward into this wall of white ice and hail and as the adrenaline pumped through my body I had an ecstatic feeling of “Wow, this is really living. This is Life” and I smashed out a seasons best time, whilst feeling alive!


Oh and I have been challenged to a 35km town-to-town race in The Gambia in May, in 35-45 degree heat. I think I still might have something to add to this one later in the year!


  1. Never eat a packet of chocolate covered hobnobs before a run

My Southend run appears to have taught me quite a few lessons. None more so than the increased importance of diet when running. The packet of chocolate covered hobnobs the night before my early morning sunrise run was a big mistake, and there could have been worse consequences than the 3km stomach cramp, if it was not for the local councils investment in a public toilet port-aloo on the sea front. God Bless you the people of Southend!

More seriously, I have found far less appetite for unhealthy foods. No appeal for take away burgers of southern fried chicken. Instead I have taken to drinking chocolate milk (within 30 minutes of a run) to help my bodies absorption of protein, further helping recovery. I also have my own Super-smoothies, which will play a much larger role over the next 9 months.

A single 10km run can take up to 1000 calories, so I am also cautious to replenish this in ways that will not be detrimental to all the hard work put into the run, or make my next run any more difficult than it could be (I now find myself eating great quantities of fruit, timing my consumption of high energy foods, and snacking on nuts and dried fruit – can you believe it!)


  1. Listen to your body – Man Flu is serious!

I recently advised a colleague to listen to their body above any plan, and shortly after this advice, just as I was feeling the pressure to get back out onto the road after 6 days absence from running), to tick off another 10km,I was struck with Man Flu. Dom Dom Doooom!

If I am honest, I almost went out for a run anyway, because it was a part of my ‘plan’, but I am glad I didn’t. I have held off and I hope to recover more quickly. There have been plenty of other times where I have found the benefit of either running when my body craves it, or holding off when things are feeling tight. Getting the balance right is an art, and one I am still an apprentice to.


  1. Wear the right shoes, always tie up your laces (and your shorts)

My first school boy error on run #1 new years day with my buddy Terry, was not having the right trainers (in fact they were not running shoes at all), which left me hobbling for a week. Not tying my laces properly during the Alloa Half marathon meant that they were annoyingly distracting and less traction meant less effectiveness for all the effort I was putting in, as well as increasing the risk of blisters!

Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail – lessons that should never be forgotten

Not tying my shorts properly before my snow storm run among the Glencoe mountains, meant that my numb hands could not tie them properly throughout and I had to keep doing a funny jig to keep them up. Sometimes you have more important things to concentrate on, such as the stunning scenery, trying to spot the legend of the lynx, or just keeping alive in the snow, rather than keeping your pants up!

Besides these small details, running is a minimalistic sport, and you do not NEED all the expensive clobber. Saying that, I still might be persuaded to invest in a new pair of trainers, if I can take on the hassle of ‘wearing them in’ mid challenge.


  1. Stretch, dig deep, and push yourself and the hard work pays off

Finally, I have covered it in my blogs and no more so than “Re-Learning to Dig Deep” . No Pain, no gain. No guts, no glory.

From the start of the year I have set myself 4 goals, and I am going to have to keep stretching myself in order to achieve them.

  1. Complete 100 x 10km Runs (27 done, on track!)
  2. Complete a 5km run in under 20 mins (Best: 20:02, close!)
  3. Complete an official 10km run in under 40mins (Best: 40:29, close!)
  4. Complete an official Marathon in under 3 hours (Nowhere near!)

Good news is that I am on track for the first 3, although there is still a long way to go to achieve 100 x 10kms. However, the longest distance I have run this year is 25km, so a 42km marathon is still a little far off. Running a marathon in under 3 hours means running 4:11 per km consistently for 42 kms… yes that’s 4 minutes, eleven x 42!!

I didn’t run that for the 21km Alloa Half (averaged 4:26 a km), and I rarely run that for a 10km so I have a lot more to do on that one!


Here’s My 3 Month Stats:

Total Distance:  320+ km / 200 Miles

Total 10km’s:  26 x 10km

Total Runs:  23

Half Marathons:  3

Fastest 5km: 20:02

Fastest 10km:  40:29

Longest Run: 25km

Locations: Glasgow, Edinburgh, Alloa, Glencoe, Balmaha, Milngavie, Dunstable, London, Manchester, Southend, Belfast.


And finally, my overall target… to raise £2,000 for community development through health and nutrition in rural Gambia. I will need to pick up the fundraising, but through your kind support have raised £650 so far on


Please keep the donations coming, it means a great deal.

A huge thank you to you all!


Paul 🙂


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