On my morning runs these last few weeks I’ve been thinking about how I’ve come to the point where I will be heading to John O’Groats this weekend to set out to run the length of the country.
My concerns about poor health and the ageing population have grown both throughout my career and also with the more I have learned about the ways the health and care system work – or not. Working with the voluntary sector has shown me further causes for concern with the impact of public funding for social service support being drastically decreased over the past eight years.
For four years I have been musing as to how I might share my concerns about the future of health and care with the public and how we might encourage people to avoid developing long term health problems and to improve their quality of life throughout life. Discussion with others produced many ideas. However, it was a chance conversation two years ago today, 5th September 2017, whilst supporting an inspirational young lady doing her own big challenge, that led me here.
My JOGLE – the acronym for the route from the top of the UK at John O’Groats to the bottom at Land’s End is symbolic given that every one of the 60 million plus in the country are affected to some degree by poor health in themselves or others.
I consulted with a very experienced trio of friends, without whom I wouldn’t consider starting such a big task. They didn’t seek to dissuade me but offered their usual good advice to help me through these past two years and the next few weeks.
Thus I have been ‘training’ for this challenge for eighteen months although, unlike running a 10K or a marathon, there is no training program, no rule book. I’m not some elite athlete who has been running for years. I’m just an ordinary person, running for seven years and I have no experience of anything like this distance or even for the many consecutive days it is likely to take: but then, it wouldn’t be a challenge if I knew I could do it.
Training has been made up as I’ve gone along, almost intuitively, listening to feedback from my body and adjusting accordingly.
The thing that surprises me most is that at no point have I questioned what I’m doing.
My running journey has itself been an amazing adventure. I have met so many wonderful people both runners and others and I feel enormously privileged and grateful to those that have helped get me to this point, will be out crewing for me on the JOGLE, or are planning to see me somewhere on route. There are many others working behind the scenes in some way or waiting in the wings to help take the initiative to the next stage once this part of the journey is over.
Thank you to everyone – you all know who you are.
The end goal is a bonus - it's the journey that changes us