Posts Taged mens-fitness

Duncan Whyte – Ambassador Final Blog

Duncan Whyte Ambassador – Final Blog

Well, as I sit here writing my final blog a week on from having crossed the finish line at BT Murrayfield for the Mens 10k in Edinburgh, I still have an enormous sense of wellbeing from having participated in the race. I have really enjoyed acting as an ambassador for the event, raising money for a charity dear to me heart and meeting some other like minded people who share a passion for running. I was hoping to run a sub 50min time which didn’t quite happen as I finished in 51’11 but I thoroughly relished doing the run which has provided a focus and motivation for all those hours of training and preparation in advance. I find taking part in such events helps keep my own personal fitness agenda on track and supports me to keep up a level of activity that boosts my physical and mental health and gives me a greater sense of welfare in my life in general. The race was well organised and all the staff and many volunteers who without which such events couldn’t take place were superb and the course which was challenging (the hills on Holyrood Road and the Cowgate were tough!) took in many of Edinburghs historic and cultural landmarks. If you have read my previous blogs you will recall that I was running for a charity called ‘The Yard’ which provides adventure play services for children with additional support needs in the East of Scotland and is a facility that my family access with my son Theo. On the route, on many occasions I heard people referencing or shouting support for The Yard as a result of my yellow running vest with the organisations logo front and centre and it was great to see that so many local people cherish this wonderful organisation as much as I do. They really do provide invaluable opportunities for families in Edinburgh, Fife and Dundee respectively.

I started my first blog in this series by quoting one of Edinburghs most infamous fictional sons, Mark Renton, the squalid anti hero of Irvine Welsh’s seminal novel ‘Trainspotting’ and his rant about choosing life. It only seems fitting to sign off from my writing to reference the T2 reboot which was released as a contempory update as to the lives of the original characters.

Choose life
Choose Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and hope that someone, somewhere cares
Choose looking up old flames, wishing you’d done it all differently
And choose watching history repeat itself Choose your future
Choose reality TV, slut shaming, revenge porn
Choose a zero hour contract, a two hour journey to work
And choose the same for your kids, only worse, and smother the pain with an unknown dose of an unknown drug made in somebody’s kitchen
And then… take a deep breath
You’re an addict, so be addicted
Just be addicted to something else
Choose the ones you love
Choose your future
Choose lifeThe world had changed around Renton and his pals just has it has for all of us who have grown up or at least gotten older over the past 20 years. The Mens 10k sets out to promote mens health issues and as a Teacher in a Secondary school in Scotland, this is something I do in my professional life. Men of my generation and older never talked about our health, our fears, our passions, our stresses, our emotions and certainly not our mental health. Sharing any of this would be a sign of weakness which may lead to paranoia about being thought of as less of a man as a result. This was the sort of stuff women talked about. The myths about openly discussing male health of course have been greatly dispelled by well publicised research, far reaching media campaigns and thankfully a very robust and clear female narrative. As men, we all have women in our lives; partners, daughters, sisters, grandmothers, friends, best friends, colleagues, managers and so on. I think I could confidently proclaim that each of these female influences in our lives want us to be real men too. Men who talk about how they are feeling. Men who ask for help. Men who are strong enough to reveal their vulnerabilities and let others in. Men who are caring, nurturing, gentle and most importantly strong. Real strength comes from helping others, being that rock but also from being brave enough to let that guard down, be honest with yourself and those who matter in our lives. This does not mean being male means you have to give up swearing or following your team. We can be both football fans and show the chinks in our armour to those we trust.When I work with and talk to the young people in my school, it is very clear they all have a much better understanding of modern day masculinity than my generation and those that came before it do. They just get it and it gives me great hope that the world where my son and daughter will grow up in will be a much healthier and more supportive place for it. Attitudes are changing and I for one only see this as a transformational development. Further work needs to be done of course and I see the responsibility for that not lying with divisive and self-protecting politicians nor flimsy and faddy instagram influencers nor indeed our stretched to breaking point education system. It falls on all of our shoulders to model to our children and younger generations what it means to be a man, what being manly looks and sounds like and to model appropriate male behaviours to both our sons and daughters and those of others. After all, where did we learn all our bad habits from when we were that age?

Renton cited many modern day pitfalls of society; the inherent risks of inescapable social media digestion and regurgitation, financial strains and uncertainty as a result of economic mismanagement by the banking sector and the government bringing austerity to the doorsteps of many in a variety of guises, numbing the pain of the trappings of current life through junk food, substance misuse, self-harm and other escapist avenues. It’s certainly quite scary and undoubtedly more complex for young people growing up today and trying to make sense of the world, their place within it and trying to navigate a positive pathway through it. As I have matured in years, I have come to realise that in life, it’s never really about the destination, it’s the journey that matters. It’s about shared experiences, overcoming barriers, crossing paths and steering a course through life that brings you joy and happiness that is important. Not what you have to show for it at the end. If you can do that one day Theo, you will then be a man my son.

Running is more often than not about the journey also rather than crossing that finishing line. It’s about the progress, noticeable changes to fitness, differences to your body, times coming down, distances going up, the people you meet, feeling good about yourself, striding with a sense of purpose and finding a positive focus for your life. I hope you have enjoyed reading the blogs and if you are thinking about giving running a go for the first time then go for it. There are loads of support tools such as ’Couch to 5k’ to get you started and I guarantee you will have neighbours, workmates and others in your community who can offer advice and guidance. I am certain you won’t regret it and it could be another step in the right direction towards a happier and fulfilling life.

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Duncan Whyte – Blog 3

Duncan Whyte Ambassador Blog 3

With less than a week to go until race day for the Mens 10K in Edinburgh, I am starting to get excited for the event. The weather forecast for the week looks positive and here’s hoping it remains that way for Sunday 3 rd November at the start line on the Royal Mile where I hope to stand shoulder to shoulder with many of you reading this blog.

October seems to have gone past in a flash and has been peppered with amongst other things my birthday, a family holiday, far too much wine and much excited discussion about Halloween costumes from my 5 and 6 year olds respectively. A busy time for sure but nonetheless I have managed to keep pounding the pavement and continue at a pace with my training in preparation for the big day. Much of my running has now moved indoors as the nights draw in and the clocks have now gone back meaning darkness has invariably fallen before I get home from work never mind get changed and out for a run. This is a challenge for my own commitment and motivation as the prospect of boarding the treadmill at my local gym hardly makes my heart sing the way in which a brisk jog around the local park and all the sensory pleasures that are an intrinsic part of that does. Running face to face with a breezeblock wall or staring vacantly at 24hr news channels doesn’t really inspire the legs to keep turning but two recent visits to The Yard (see my previous blog post) in both Edinburgh and Dundee with my family have kept my fires burning and reinvigorated my determination to support this amazing charitable venture, to honour my responsibilities to those who have donated to this organisation through my just giving page (https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/duncan-whyte1), and to do my supporters and myself proud. Despite time away from home and the shortening days, my training has been going well and I am feeling positive about the physical and mental test that lies ahead. I don’t think I am quite in the shape to trouble my PB of 47:43 for a 10k but am hoping to make a sub 50 min time on Sunday.

I finished off my last blog by sharing that I was preparing to take part in my second half marathon. Having polished off a curry and a couple of cold beverages on a rare child free evening with my wife the night before, I can confirm that I completed the Great Scottish Run 2019 in Glasgow in a time of 1:53:57 which took nearly 4mins off my previous attempt at this distance. To say I was surprised would be an understatement. Whilst I have kept my running going over the course of the year it has certainly fluctuated as life has carved its own course of meandering paths and ups and downs throughout 2019. The rich food and alcohol turned out not to be the only way to ill prepare for the day. Normally I would look out all my essentials for race day the night before to ensure that I have all I need to run, stay comfortable and get home safely. In my childless glee I had neglected to do this and found myself rummaging around at a very unsociable hour on a Sunday morning trying to procure what I needed from home without waking the missus. The essentials were covered; shorts, t shirt, running socks, trainers, headphones, phone, gum etc. However two luxuries were nowhere to be found. Anti-chafe gel and plasters. Anyone who has run an extended distance will know exactly what these are for and the perils of running without them. Whilst I am undoubtedly rapidly approaching middle age (if I am not there already), my BMI remains to cling on to the ‘normal’ range if only just. However, rubbing thighs for 21.2km is not going to be fun for anyone and I would recommend anyone taking on this longer distance to liberally apply an appropriate gel pre-race to wherever you feel you need it. After all, you are worth it. The plasters of course are for protecting the most sensitive parts of anyone’s chest. This is something I have found to my cost especially when running in hot, humid conditions when the raw tenderness of sandpapered nipples has been felt for the following week. A simple band aid over your ‘mips’ (urban dictionary says this is a real term) can ease a whole lot of post-race recovery. I decided not to panic and planned a stop off at a large supermarket mid journey. What I envisaged to be a quick dash around the aisles turned out to be a bit more traumatic. Plasters, plasters, plasters, plasters, should be about here…. None left…double check…nope definitely none left….except…a child’s pack of plasters…peppa pig plasters. Fine I thought, my mips wont judge me and will thank me the next day. Next for the anti chafe gel. I tried every aisle, twice. Not a drop in sight. I can’t do this without this wonder serum. I must find a substitute. Time was now a factor. Think..think…I found myself back in the healthcare aisle. Then it happened. I turned and clocked what seemed like an oasis in the desert. KY Jelly. I wasn’t going to use it for its intended purpose(s) but surely it would do the trick, reduce the friction of my burning thighs. Before I knew it the most unlikely of bedfellows were in my basket. I headed for the self-checkout as I generally always do, scanned in a rush and looked out my credit card before the checkout spoke to me. Truth be told, it didn’t just speak to me, it felt like it spoke to the whole store. ‘Sorry, this item is not recognised, a colleague is on their way’. Before my heart could properly sink, my eyes fixated on the items in the packing area. As I lifted them, they met the gaze of a store assistant called Glenda. I know this because for what must have been just a few seconds, the world seemed to stand still and I had what felt like an age to decipher the letters on the store assistants name badge. The look on both our faces as we stood side by side at the checkout on a Sunday morning around 8.13am at my very light but curious shopping told two tales of disbelief as to what was happening. Things then seemed to snap back into real time and a swift key entry followed by some furious pressing of buttons had me on my way without a word being uttered between us. Glenda either meets a lot of people buying kids plasters and a sensual lubricant at all hours of the day or was just too polite to enquire further. Or perhaps the company have a policy of what goes on in store stays in store. Either way, I could swear the security guy at the door smiled at me as I made a hasty retreat to the exit. Not a good sign in any context. I made it to Glasgow, sorted myself out, really enjoyed the run, soaked up the atmosphere and felt a real sense of accomplishment in finishing the race at all and of course beating my previous time. I am very much looking forward to a similar experience in Edinburgh at the end of the week.It was unseasonably warm on that race day in Glasgow for late September and as I crossed the finish line and slowed my pace to standing still, I took a few minutes to catch my breath and congratulate some fellow finishers. Being such a warm day, my top was soaked and I decided to remove it as I walked through Glasgow Green. The air in my lungs and on my skin felt great. As my sense of post-race euphoria started to subside, I started to notice I was getting more attention than I was used to. Extended gazes from passers-by and some muffled smirking. What was going on? Then a child walked past me and duly pointed and laughed at me. I couldn’t work it out and put it down to some misplaced west coast sense of humour. It was when a man roughly my age and holding the hand of his daughter who would have been in the same year as mine had they gone to the same school walked past and hummed a tune at me with a wicked smile on his face that the penny then dropped. ‘Duh- duh, Duh-duh, duhduhduhduhduh-duh’. That tune is engrained in my brain like a twisted earworm from many an early morning being woken by my wee girl and crawling up on the sofa with her and switching on the TV for a few minutes before I need to make breakfast or role play in some terrible princess game. Peppa bloody pig. I looked down at my chest and loud and proud, having done the exact job they were procured for, still in perfect positioning were the child’s plasters I had bought earlier in the day. Of course in the days and weeks that have passed I have thought of lots of witty comebacks I could have retorted my tormentor with. None of which of course came to me at the time. All I could do was laugh at myself and then do what daddy pig would have done in such circumstances. Own the moment, walk like a boss and strut off into the sunset. I won’t forget that day in a hurry for lots of reasons.

Sharing what was a mildly mortifying experience on what was otherwise probably the best running experience I have had with you seems important for two reasons. Firstly, to ensure you have the best day possible, be prepared. Hopefully you have done some training already, gradually extending the length of your runs over an appropriate time period ensuring that you are in physical shape to take on what is a challenging distance. Be prepared to set yourself a realistic target of what you hope to achieve on race day and be prepared to exceed that as running with others nearly always results in quicker times. Be prepared at least the night before with all the essential and luxury items you need for the 3 rd November and plan out how you will get to and from the start and finish lines respectively in advance. This will lead to a more relaxed pre and post-race experience and add to what I am sure will be a great day for all those participating. Secondly, be prepared for an unshakable sense of solidarity with your fellow competitors who will be taking on the same endeavours as you. Be prepared for an overwhelming feeling of achievement and wellbeing on completion of the course that will last hours and days as the gravitas of your accomplishment sinks in. Be prepared for people on the streets and at BT Murrayfield shouting your name, spurring you on and getting right behind you as you seek to attain your personal goals. Be prepared to inspire others through your commitment and dedication in overcoming personal barriers. You won’t meet or hear from all the people who you affect through your involvement in the event, but you will have motivated someone somewhere to set their own individual goals and show the same gritty attitude towards achieving these as you set out to do on Sunday. Be prepared to promote the work of countless charitable organisations carrying out invaluable work in a myriad of settings supporting many lives. Be prepared to make the people who love and care for you proud. Finally, be prepared to be a focal point for raising awareness of men’s health issues. We all have men in our lives. We are all a man in the lives of others. We all matter and we all need to be better at looking after ourselves and at looking after each other. After all, that would be the manly thing to do now wouldn’t it?

I am hoping to see some of you other dads, grandads, sons, uncles and brothers at the start line on the Royal Mile for the Men’s 10k in Edinburgh 2019. In my final blog, I will let you know how I got on, share my post-race thoughts and feelings and share some key messages on modern masculinity. Til then.

If you are reading this blog and feel like you would make even the smallest of contributions to The Yard then you can do so by visiting my JustGiving page at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/duncan-whyte1 This would help to support The Yard continue to support the development of and create wonderful experiences for children with additional support needs.

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Fraser Baxter – Blog 2

Fraser Baxter Ambassador Blog 2

Since my last blog 4 weeks ago I have been busy running the Great North run (the most mental event ever!!!), The Scottish Half Marathon (A new PB!!!!) and training really hard for the Lochness Marathon in October. I say training really hard but to tell the truth is more of a distraction as the reality is that October is the month that I dread the most in the year, it is our daughter Jenna’s birthday and anniversary of her death. This as you would expect produces all sorts of different emotions – the joy of having a baby daughter and at the other end of the spectrum complete and utter sadness/ anger / grief that her life was cut so short.

During October I become more aware of the “mask of grief” that I wear and probably will for the rest of my life. What is the “mask of grief”? Well it’s this invisible shield that you develop that sort of protects from all sorts of vulnerably? It masks your true feelings to allow you to get on with your “new normal”. As with most masks they do become uncomfortable if you wear then for a long periods of time. I try to run about four times a week this allows me to take of my mask and recharge the batteries.

Your mask can help you in many situations for example when you get asked how many kids you have? It’s such a simple question but to me it’s such a difficult questions to answer. Depends on your audience right? Can you truthfully answer that to a complete stranger? Yes I have 3 kids but one died? That just make the situation totally uncomfortable and could lead to a lot of other difficult questions and maybe not fair to person asking the question. If say two the situation is normal and we can all move. This is where the “mask of grief” protects and everything looks ok for the outside but inside there is immense levels of guilt for not telling the truth. I should be saying three daughters because when I don’t I’m denying Jenna her rightful place in our family. I suppose that situation is much like running the more you train the better you get and after 3 years of being asked that question I have a well-rehearsed answer depending on who is asking!

October will no doubt be a month of ups and downs, much like the 26.2 mile back to Inverness. Once the Marathon is done and dusted am looking forward to a change in my training with the introduction of some sorter distance and speed work in preparation for the Mens10km. I am also looking forward to completely the Men’s 10K as part of a group of bereaved dad’s. As mentioned in previous blog, I go to a support group especially for Beavered Dads and we are planning to get some training runs in soon. I think running together will show unity and just emphasis the point that you don’t need to go along in this journey of grief alone!

Inspired? Watch, read and enjoy more content from our fantastic crop of 2019 Edinburgh Ambassadors at mens10k.com/edinburgh-ambassadors. If you’ve not yet taken the leap, secure your spot on a Men’s 10K start line this year at mens10k.com/mydetails.

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Fraser Baxter – Blog 1

Fraser Baxter Ambassador Blog Post 1

Well I guess the first thing you should know about me is that I am a bereaved dad. My life was turned upside down when my second daughter died on 20 th October when she was just 1 day old. Jenna Baxter was her name and she has changed my life in so many different ways!

The excitement of our second imminent arrival quickly turned to shock when she was born and quickly taken to be resuscitated. 25 minutes is how long it took the medical team to revive my beautiful baby girl, they kept going so long because she took a tiny gasp. The waiting to find out if she was okay was unbearable. The consultant came to tell us that our baby was very poorly and they were not sure if she would survive.

When I saw her for the first time up in SCBU, I was flooded with so many emotions but seeing all the equipment and machines she was hooked up to I felt and overwhelming sense of fear. She had to be moved to the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh as they had more specialist equipment there. I travelled in a police escorted ambulance with her and wife travelled in a separate ambulance. We were told that she may not survive the journey but she did! After a team of consultants spent time assessing her they then spoke with us to tell us that there was nothing else they could do for her. These are words that no parent should have to hear. We were in shock but they told us to spend as much time as possible with her. Our parents came to see her and our little girl, Jessica came to see her baby sister. Jessica was 3 at the time but she was able to make some memories with her little sister. She kissed her and sang her ‘Twinkle Twinkle’. Those are memories I will never forget.

On the evening of the 20 th October we had to make the difficult decision to turn off Jenna’s life support. 42 hours after she came into this world she left again. Just a brief visit! Jenna died in her mummy and daddy’s arms knowing only love.

And just like that my life changed, all our plans for our new life as a family of 4 were cruelly taken from us the night we had to turn off Jenna’s life support. There are no words to describe the grief in the days and weeks that followed Jenna’s death.

Having never being a runner before I have no idea why I started to running but I remember just wanting to escape a house full of sadness. I soon realised that when I ran I could process my thoughts and feelings.  I used the time out running to try and deal with my grief and process my thoughts. It was like the more I ran the better I became at surprising my grief and coping with my new normal.

It has been nearly a 3 years since we had to say goodbye to Jenna and although life goes on and you have to put your life back together piece by piece but the sadness will never go away completely.  There are days when the smallest thing can trigger a memory or a thought about what could have been. 

After 2 years I could no longer out run my grief and decided that I need to talk to someone. So with the help of Sands Lothian, I get regular counselling and attend a support group for Bereaved Dads. We started the support group for the Dads about 18 months ago and this year we will around 10 bereaved dad running the men’s 10km which is amazing! Please look out for us in our Sands Lothian Running Vests.

It may be a bit farfetched to say running saved my life but is has been my anti-depressant during the dark times. Whilst I am still trying to come to terms with what’s happened I still manage to run 4 times a week most weeks and run a few races a year.

Having signed up for many events since my 1 st race in April 2017 the men’s 10km is one of my favourites. What’s better than running around the city centre of Edinburgh and that sprint finish inside Murrayfeild. Being an Ambassador will help raise awareness of beavered dads who are often forgot about and suffer in silence. If there are any beavered dads reading this please know that is ok not to be ok.Inspired? Watch, read and enjoy more content from our fantastic crop of 2019 Edinburgh Ambassadors at mens10k.com/edinburgh-ambassadors. If you’ve not yet taken the leap, secure your spot on a Men’s 10K start line this year at mens10k.com/mydetails.

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Richard Fenton – Blog 1

Richard Fenton – Ambassador Blog 1

I ran my very first competitive 10k in September of 2017 and got myself a time of 49:33 after training for seven months from a standing start and being two stone overweight. The second I crossed the finishing line, I knew I had caught the running bug. That’s why I signed up for a few more races including the 2018 Men’s 10K Glasgow where I managed a time of 50:15. Since then I have completed 10 more events of varying distances and types, but as far as 10k races go, my favourite event is the Men’s 10K which is why I am back again this year with a target to beat my best time!

As I write I have really begun to step up my training with a mix of road running and on those cold icy days getting into the gym and onto the treadmill. If you have signed up for your first run and you are happy to take some advice around training, I have a couple of suggestions which worked very well for me. Firstly one foot in front of the other, then repeat; may seem obvious but pace isn’t really important at this type of event, it all about getting to the start line and moving forward to the finish and enjoying the journey. This rule applies to training too which is very important; the fact is the more you train the more fun you will have on the day. Secondly eat the right stuff, fuel is vital when training and even more so on race day. You don’t have to get a team of nutritionists involved, for me its peanut butter on toast with sliced up banana to make a toasted sandwich and a bowl of porridge, two hours before, for you it may be something entirely different, although I would recommend staying away from a fry up.

As it stands I am up to pace with my distance so getting in some regular 10k runs. I recently managed to cover 10k out on the road in just under 53 minutes, so quite pleased given that I am 49 in May this year. One thing that I always love about race day is the fact that you get boost to your pace time, which means whatever your best time is training you are more than likely going to smash that on the day, the reason is simple, you get carried along with the pace of your fellow runners and the atmosphere – the Men’s 10k has one of the best.

I will be back again soon with another blog and hopefully a video, in the mean time you may see me out on the roads of East Kilbride or on the trails in Calderglen, either way good luck with all your own training efforts! 
Inspired? Watch, read and enjoy more content from our fantastic crop of 2019 Ambassadors at mens10k.com/ambassadors. If you’ve not yet taken the leap, secure your spot on a Men’s 10K start line this year at mens10k.com/mydetails.

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Men’s 10K Glasgow back for another year in 2017!

Men’s 10K Glasgow back for another year in 2017!

Thousands of men will gather on the banks of the Clyde this June to take part in the 12th annual Glasgow Men’s 10K.

Taking place on Sunday 18th June, Father’s Day, the annual event attracts in the region of 4,000 runners – 40% of which have never taken part in a 10K before.

For over a decade, the event has been a focal point for raising awareness around men’s health issues, touching the lives of over 40,000 men.

One competitor taking part this year is Chris Quinn, a 51 year old NHS worker from Hillington, who has ran in the last five races. Chris currently volunteers for the Beatson Cancer Charity and will run to raise funds for a friend’s seven year old daughter, who has a rare genetic condition called Bohring-Opitz.

Explaining his passion for the race, Chris said: “The Glasgow Men’s 10K is such a huge part of the running year for many guys in Glasgow and beyond. I have done the race five times and I can’t praise it highly enough.

“It was the first 10K I ever did and I still use it as a benchmark for my personal best times. The first time, I ran one hour and two minutes, the following year was one hour and one second. In my third though, I smashed the time, coming in at just over 58 minutes.

“I see myself being the kind of runner that benefits from this event – slightly overweight, occasional runner and not part of a club. Now it is back, I am going to start training and aim for 55 minutes to try and beat my personal best time.”

As is traditional, the event will take place on Father’s Day, with the fantastic city centre route starting at Riverside Museum and finishing in George Square.

Neil Kilgour Event Director said: “After such a successful event this year, Men’s 10K Glasgow is back for 2017 and we’re hoping that more men will take part than ever before. Running a 10K is a great challenge for anyone whether they are just starting out or already take part in regular sport. The benefits of exercise are universally accepted, but in the UK, we quite simply don’t do enough of it.

“Every runner taking part in the Men’s 10K can expect a taste of that brilliant, supportive atmosphere. So we say to Scotland’s men stop saying “I could” “maybe” and “I might”: take control of your life and create some positive change”.

Entries for the Men’s 10K Glasgow event are now open at www.mens10k.com. Entries are also open for the Edinburgh event which takes place on Sunday 6th November this year.

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