When we were selected as Simplyhealth’s nominated charity for the 2017 Simplyhealth Great Run Series earlier this year little did we know what amazing people we would go on to meet. And, when Simplyhealth employee Jamie Jones told us that he wanted to run not one, not two, not even three, but all fourteen (yes you read it correctly!) of the Simplyhealth Great Run Series challenges on behalf of our charity we were left totally in awe of him. Here he tells you all about how his love for running began and what his experience has been like so far…
Written by Jamie Jones, Simplyhealth.
How it all began…
I started running at senior school where our cross country route was out and around Salisbury Plain – pretty hard core. Football and other sports requiring any sort of co-ordination failed to inspire me. I couldn’t throw a ball and was never quick enough at sprinting to feature in the normal school races, but get me over 800 metres and I was unstoppable!
I found I was finishing way ahead of everyone else, despite being the smallest in my year. I think it was possibly the first sporty thing I had ever felt I was any good at. I joined a local running club which proved to be my escape from the small village I lived in, in rural Wiltshire. Every weekend I was being ferried around to races and the longer they were the better I did.
Over the years I got better and better and ended up at a good county level winning various championships, culminating in finishing in 62nd place at the 2001 London Marathon and 3rd in the South of England 10k championships in 2003. Then my kids came along and running took a back seat.
It was in about 2014 that I started running properly again because the kids wanted to do the local parkrun. The hard training that I had done in my 20s and 30s suddenly wasn’t so easy to do or recover from but I persevered.
My first introduction to Revitalise was at an event at work where Mindy Sawhney, Revitalise’s Chairman was a guest speaker.
Mindy totally blew me away with her passion for this amazing charity and when she showed us an emotional video summarising some of the amazing work the charity does, I’m not ashamed to say that I shed a tear or two!
When the news came that Simplyhealth were making Revitalise its nominated charity for the Simplyhealth Great Run Series, it was music to my ears!
Choosing to run for Revitalise
I met both Mindy and Chris Simmonds, Revitalise’s CEO again at the Simplyhealth Great Run Series launch event in Edinburgh back in January and it was then that I decided I was going to run all of the events for Revitalise. I have already completed five of the Simplyhealth Great Run events across the length and breadth of the UK, including a hugely emotional Manchester 10k – a week after the atrocity there. It’s an event that will stay with me forever, as it epitomised the sheer determination of the people of Manchester.
All of the events are big, ranging from three thousand to sixty thousand runners and all with a wide range of shapes and sizes, ages and abilities. There are often celebrities taking part or international athletes such as Mo Farah! The vast majority of runners are there to raise money for their chosen charity and there are always lots of spectators cheering you along the way. Some events even have special themes – at Birmingham there was a band playing music at each mile to keep us running. The events often allow you to take in local landmarks too – in Bristol we got to run under the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge and in Edinburgh along the Royal Mile.
Being part of something amazing
Standing at the start line for each race so far has been exhilarating, especially if I have seen some famous athletes. In Manchester I spoke to Wilson Kipsang from Kenya who was the Marathon World Record holder. The sheer amount of athletes at some events has been overwhelming and I look out for anyone wearing the distinctive Revitalise vest to say hello to.
Time to train
I train about five days a week at the moment. Tuesdays are for speed work, so something like 10 x 400 metres with a minute recovery. Wednesdays have a slower pace as I take out my after work running group from our office in Andover for a 30-45 minute run. Saturdays is usually parkrun with my kids or a steady 30 mins and Sundays is a long run for over an hour! I usually reward myself with a cake as a treat afterwards!
In between time I like to do stretching and some core stability work. I have a niggling calf injury so I have been making use of my Simplyhealth cash plan to have some physiotherapy and keep me on track. I’m not one to stick to a strict diet as I find that if I run enough my weight tends to look after itself, although I am not the svelte sub nine stone whippet that I was 15 years ago!
My experience so far…
I would thoroughly recommend anyone thinking of doing so to take part, or even just to spectate at one of the Simplyhealth Great Run events. There is something truly uplifting and inspirational about being part of or seeing so many people moving en masse. The colour and sound is like a huge carnival. The home straight is often where you see people at their most determined to beat their time or to achieve a personal goal.
If you would like to support Jamie along his epic Simplyhealth Great Run Series journey, why not visit his JustGiving page? Thank you for your support!