Hello, my name is Neil and, on the 18th July 2021, at 9am, I will set off from John O’Groats to run 897 miles to Land’s End. To achieve this, I will be completing 34 back-to-back marathons. Why am I doing this? Because I can. I am 63 years old and three years ago I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and decided to set myself a challenge.

I started my training back in November 2020 for JOGLE and thankfully the weather is forecast for better running conditions as I continue with my training. In order to give myself the best chance of completing the challenge I had set myself, I enlisted the help of James, a running coach who specialises in endurance running.  James sends me a weekly training plan, which outlines what running miles he wants me to achieves as well as the easy pace. If you can run and hold a conversation without struggling to breath, then you are running at an easy pace. His tailored training plans have given me the structure that I need.

My Typical Training Week

Monday - 15KM - Easy Pace

Tuesday - 15KM - Introduce Hill Reps (8 x 800M)

Wednesday - 15KM - Easy Pace

Thursday - 15KM - Introduce Speed Work (2.5KM warm up - 400M sprint, 60 second recovery, repeating for 10KM – 25KM warm down) 

Friday - 40KM - Easy Pace (Power walk the steep hills)

Saturday - 40KM - Easy Pace

Sunday - 40KM - Easy Pace

Average 180KM a week (111 miles)

My training plan is not only designed to have me running faster.  It’s also about endurance, running mile after mile, putting one foot in front of the other, hour after hour.  At the moment, I’m working on the back-to-back long runs, so I am starting each run on already tired legs!

It’s not just the running that James focuses on; he’s also there for the mental side of JOGLE.  When you’re shattered both physically and mentally and in a bad place, it’s reassuring to have the strategies to know how to deal with them.  There’s also nutrition, hydration, basic first aid, route planning and much more to think about .... It sometimes feels like running is the easy bit!  

It sometimes feels like running is the easy bit

 The weather’s been very cold, particularly in February, when running in sub-zero temperatures, heavy snow, rain and ice was proving to be the norm.  It’s these conditions that really test you ­– it’s as much a mental challenge as it is a physical challenge. The weekly mileage is increasing, every run is different, sometimes I can’t wait to get out there and other times I dread going out.

 On one occasion I set off from home early morning after it had been raining hard throughout the night.  Before I had even clocked up a mile, starring me in the face was a flooded road.  My only option was to run through it.  I then had 20 miles ahead of me with wet feet. Luckily, I was wearing Rohan Pathway Socks and after a couple miles my feet were almost dry again, even with the sub-zero temperatures. The weather then worsened! Freezing rain started hitting me and my running buddy straight in the face, it was very painful. I was freezing cold; it was the worst weather I had ever run in. Having broken my hand three years ago as a result of a bike accident, my hands don’t like the cold; I very quickly lost all feeling in them. Thankfully I was wearing Rohan’s Storm Waterproof Gloves.  Although my hands were cold, they were dry and not frozen which meant I was able to retain all feeling in my hands right till the end of the run. Given the state of my hands, this was impressive.

Apart from the obvious training there’s still all the planning that goes into making JOGLE happen, which still has to be planned and implemented. The route is pretty much there. I have a campervan, which will be home for 35 days, so that means 35 campsites that need booking. It’s imperative that I eat the right food so daily menus are planned and implemented; my equipment includes everything from a first aid kit, maps to 7 pairs of running shoes.

The running tops I wear will have to adapt and deal with whatever the weather throws at me. I know from experience that I can trust Rohan and their Altitude T shirt; Global T shirt, Pathway Socks and Helix Jacket which are a top priority when I start packing my gear ready for JOGLE. 

We will be catching up with Neil later on in the year as he starts off on his herculean challenge. Read part one of Neil’s Journey

Or why not follow Neil’s story on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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