Be prepared f for any challenge; With scores of entries su ubmitted and the region once again gearing up for the Great North Run, Healt h Reporter HELEN RAE looks at the dos and don'ts of safe training, and how o one man is taking his running challenge to the limit.
It is a half marathon that will see 54,000 entrants, including a plethora of sports stars and celebrities, running 13.1 miles in aid of worthy causes.
However, one man, Mark Allison, of Shotley Bridge, County Durham, is taking his charitable running challenge a few steps further.
Whilst thousands are in training for the region's iconic run, the 38-year-old will be crossing the United States, from Los Angeles to New York, on foot, running 31 miles per day for 100 days, in aid of St Benedict's Hospice in Sunderland and The Children's Foundation.
So, what inspires a self-confessed, pie-eating, football-mad Geordie, to leave his family and embark on such an ambitious venture? He said: "The primary motivation for running 3,100 miles across the USA is to raise funds for two local charities.
"The first, St Benedict's Hospice, cared for my mam during her final days battling cancer in 1995. Ever since then, I have tried to repay the debt of gratitude I feel towards the hospice and the staff.
"The second charity is The Children's Foundation. I have a young family and I'm very proud to contribute to a charity that cares for the health and wellbeing of so many children.
"There's no question that I will find the challenge incredibly difficult both physically and mentally - especially being apart from my family for so long, but it's something I feel I need to do."
As a non-professional athlete, Mark needs to ensure that he is taking his training seriously.
He has already raised more than pounds 70,000 for charity, participating in events such as running from Land's End to John O Groats in 2007, but this new adventure will test him much further.
With this in mind, Mark trains regularly with his personal trainer, David Fairlamb, and complements this with frequent visits to his local Lifestyle Fitness gym at Belle Vue Leisure Centre in Consett, County Durham.
David said: "Mark has set himself the most phenomenal goal.
"The mental toughness and physical strain that he has to endure both in the preparation and during the run is monstrous.
This is where Mark excels, he has incredible mental strength to the point that in the last two years he has not once thought he didn't feel like training.
"Once his goal was set he has pushed and pushed towards it every day.
"Each day for 100 days Mark will be running the equivalent of two Great North Runs plus another five miles.
"An awesome task and that's before you take the weather and terrain into consideration.
"It takes someone special to be that focused, for that long and Mark is special.
So over the next few months, anyone finding the Great North Run training tough, spare a thought for what he is doing."
HERE ARE DAVID'S TOP TIPS FOR CHARITABLE RUNNERS: TARGETS Set your target, therefore, you alway have a focus. These could include, fo some, just to finish the race, for others, beat a previous time or to set a person best. ys for to nal PL AN Plan your training and gradually buil up the miles each week.
ld Within a month of the run yo should have completed the distanc Preparing by training up to distances seven to 10 miles may mean you suff ou ce.
of fer on the day because your body isn't use to the full distance. ed Be positive and start now, leaving too late isn't an option. it FOOTWEAR Ensure you have the correct footwea Do not just pick up the first pair trainers you see. For guidance, I recom mend Northern Runner or Start Fi ness. ar. of miter TRAINING SESSIONS: Look to train three to four times p week. That doesn't mean just runnin try to vary your workouts and speed.
ng, Add intervals which are bursts speed and slower rest periods into you training. of ur Train on different terrains and ad hills/steps into your workout. This als stops the monotony of your training. dd so In the gym use all the card machines and vary the distances an pace, whilst also trying out differen classes to mix things up. dio nd nt DAVID FAIRLAMB'S BEACH BOOTCAMPS AND WAKE UP W O R KO U T S : For an all-round body workout including interval, strength and cardiovascular training - ideal for both beginners and advanced runners, attend my Beach Bootcamp and Wake Up Workout on Tynemouth Beach.
NUTRITION To gain the most from your training it's important your diet is consistently good.
Cut out all the processed rubbish and look to eat more fresh, healthy food.
Stick with good quality meats and fish along with vegetables, fruit and salad. After a hard session, a combination of protein and low GI carbohydrate should be eaten within 45 minutes, this should help you avoid a slump in energy later in the day.
F LU I D S Drink plenty of water and if you can, add fresh lemon. On average try to drink two to three litres per day.
As David has discussed in the training tips, its good to mix your running training with classes or gym workouts. Belle Vue Leisure Centre's Steven Peveller suggests a few exercises for core strength.
He said: "Using the equipment within the Lifestyle Fitness facility, another vital part of a runner's programme is based around core strength training.
"A strong core will support your running, racing, training and any other sport or physical activity.
"This area of the body can be worked on in the gym using a number of machines and exercises, a good example of which is the Power Plate which helps to stimulate growth in the mid-section of the body. Other workout methods include the dead lift and squat exercises in the weights area.
"A really effective core exercise is the plank - all you need is yourself and a mat.
"Lie face down, forearms and toes on the floor, then, keeping your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending, lift your legs and chest up off the floor.
"Hold the position for fifteen-sixty seconds whilst maintaining control. This will work your whole body and can be quite a challenge at first. So start slowly and gradually build your time as you go."
So, for anyone preparing for the Great North Run, it is important to remember to complement your running with alternative workouts to ensure variety and staying power, eat carefully, drink plenty of fluid and set yourself realistic goals to help you achieve your running mission.
To find out more about Mark's amazing US running challenge, monitor his progress and to donate to Children's Foundation and St Benedict's Hospice, visit www.rungeordierun.com Mark will also be writing about his adventures, giving readers an insight into the mental and physical challenges he has faced, in a new book, Run For Home, to be published by Tonto Books in September.
For more information about David Fairlamb Fitness Consultants, see www.davidfairlambfitness.co.uk or call 0771 364 0899.
Anyone wishing to find out more about the Lifestyle Fitness gym and gain additional health advice, should visit Belle Vue Leisure Centre on Ashdale Road in Consett, or call 01207 218151 to find out about free taster sessions.
A Lifestyle Fitness Suite is also available at the neighbouring Louisa Centre in Stanley. For details call 01207 218877.
Run for health REGULAR running can help reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and stroke, boost your mood and keep weight under c o n t ro l. The benefits of running can be endless. For starters, it's an easy way of improving your physical health.
Running regularly will improve your cardiovascular function, making your heart and lungs healthier. It can also help you lose weight, especially if combined with a healthy diet.
There is evidence it may also help increase bone density in some people, which can help guard against osteoporosis.
Perhaps the unexpected sideeffects are mental benefits. It can help boost confidence and self-belief as you prove to yourself you can set a target and achieve a goal.
Running can also be a great stress reliever and has even been shown to combat depres -sion.
BIG CHALLENGE Mark Allison, bootcamp and steps training at King Edward's Bay, Tynemouth WORKOUT Steven Peveller of Bel shows one of the Lifestyle Fitness strengthen and tone core muscles le Vue Leisure Centre gym members how to s