WEEK ONE.

Welcome to my Blog!

Now that I am less than three weeks away from starting my ten marathon challenge for Beat, I figured this was the best way to keep everyone up to date on my progress. Without doubt, the last couple of weeks have been interesting!

Within the space of six days, I broke up with my girlfriend, landed a job with British Athletics, won a 20 mile trail race, and then found out the terrible news that a running friend had tragically taken his own life (see bottom of the page). Only the day before Mark passed away, I had a Facebook notification from him liking one my posts, so it came as a great shock to me when I heard the news of his passing. And to round things off, I then revealed my biggest secret to everyone I know!

Having told my closest friends earlier in the day, I spent a few hours debating whether or not to post my eating disorder story on Facebook. For someone who became very private and kept secrets, I felt incredibly exposed. 

However, the response was overwhelming. I was inundated with messages of support, phone calls, emails and donations from friends, colleagues and people I have not seen or spoken to for a number of years. I would just like to say thank you to everyone who has been in touch, I really appreciate it and I have tried to make sure I reply to everyone, but sorry if I have missed anyone.

On Monday when I was lying awake at 4.15am, so decided to go out for a run, and ended up running a marathon before work, on my own around Woodbridge, for no real reason at all. I just put my music on and it was surprisingly therapeutic, even if a little bit crazy. I have seen first hand how confusing and devastating suicide can be. It is something that has had a big impact on my life, with both my Uncle and Auntie taking their own lives after suffering with depression, so it was tough. I am lucky to have had the same group of close friends for over 20 years (see embarrassing photos below), so we have seen each other go through pretty much everything at some point. 

On to running! With less than three weeks to go until my first race on NYE, following Monday's marathon I have tried to build a base this week without worrying about speed or paces, so it has been nice and easy, just trying to spend more time on my feet. On Thursday I was used as a guinea pig for a biomechanical assessment as part of the final year of my BSc Sports & Exercise Science degree at UCS Ipswich. This involved being covered in reflective markers and running on a treadmill, with eight cameras surrounding me in order to calculate a range of kinematic data. Think hamster on a wheel.. 

On Saturday I had a good long run with Matt and Ian, two of my regular training partners, with a nice easy 20 miler along the Suffolk country roads and plenty of chatting to round off the first week of training. I have decided against running back to back marathons, so the New Year's Day race has been scrapped and I am hoping to confirm it's replacement shortly.

In next week's blog I will hopefully have some exciting news with regards to sponsorship of my challenge from a leading sports nutrition company after talks this week. The East Anglian Daily Times newspaper have also been in contact about running a story, so that will hopefully increase the publicity around my past experience and upcoming marathons.

Ultimately the main goal from this fundraising effort is to help raise money for Beat and awareness of eating disorders, especially in men, so that fewer and fewer people have to go through the experience I did. 

I am running ten marathons to raise money for Beat, the UK's leading eating disorder charity. You can follow me on Twitter here, on Instagram here, or on Facebook here. You can also sponsor me via my Justgiving page here.

Mark Furnace (1972 - 2015)

(From L-R) Warren Birch, Me and Mark Furnace after winning the team prize at last year's Woodbridge 10k

Whilst I could never claim to be a personal friend of Mark's, we used to run together in training sessions and group runs during my time at Ipswich Jaffa Running Club, so I knew him well enough to chat to at local races, or to say hello if we bumped into each other in the supermarket.

He was the most infectiously enthusiastic person you were ever likely to meet, and he would be the first to say good luck before, or well done after a run, and definitely the first to make a joke! My sincere condolences go out to Hannah, Mark's children, and both families at this difficult time.