Next up in our London Marathon series is Guest Blogger Paul Stainthorpe - also known as Father Fitness. He started his blog to document his journey back to fitness after becoming a first-time dad, and given that many of our runners race in our vest after deciding to do a run for the first time ever, we knew that his journey would be a familiar one! If you've been considering a race but not sure how you'll squeeze in training with family commitments, read on - Paul has some great tips to share!
I'm really, really excited about writing this guest post. It's such an honour to be asked to write this on behalf of Pancreatic Cancer UK.
Here's a little bit about myself.
My name is Paul Stainthorpe and I started my own fitness journey shortly after my Son was born in 2009. I wanted to become a fitter and healthier Dad, and setting a good example to my kids is very important to me. I don't have those little bits of paper that say I passed a fitness exam but what I do have are several years of real experience. These include fitting my training around a young family and keeping myself constantly motivated.
I've recently completed two charity Christmas challenges called 'The 12 Days of Christmas' for Percy Hedley and 'The 12 parkruns of Christmas' for Tiny Lives. Running for good allowed me to raise money and awareness for these charities and also meet new people. It was certainly an eye opener and I feel proud to have given something back. I was dubbed Father Fitness by a local newspaper because of my reason to turn to health and fitness. I only started running in 2012 and I also enjoy boxing and weight training.
I've always had an interest in sport but it wasn't until I hit 30 I really started to take my health seriously too.
I developed a dairy allergy in my late 20's, I believe this was down to a bad diet and not taking care of myself properly. It certainly made me think about my health and the after-affects of what I eat.
I'm a graphic designer by trade and I run my own creative agency called Hill Valley Creative. I've recently formed my own health and fitness brand called Loxley Sports. It's very early stages right now but my fingers are crossed and I'm hoping for big things. I'm slowly starting to combine my everyday work with my hobbies. "Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life." - Confucius.
So that's a little bit about me and my background to health and fitness. Something else not many people know about is that my Grandma passed away to cancer. She was always an opinionated and very strong-minded woman; I had loads of respect for my Grandma and still do. She always called a spade a spade. It was hard for me to see her health deteriorate like it did. She lost so much weight and struggled to recognise who I was. I was only about 14 at the time. I remember thinking "should I not visit my Grandma anymore?" and try to remember her how she was? I decided that she needed to see all of her Grandchildren and that included me. She fought until the very end and I guess in some way, what I've taken from that experience is to never give up. It doesn't matter how hard life can be, with a little bit of hard work and determination, anything is possible. I unfortunately don't have any Grandparents alive anymore but I think about them all on a daily basis. I hope they are proud of the life I have created and the fact I'm now using my running for good.
After last years challenge I certainly had a few things to think about. I attempted to run 12 parkruns in one day but unfortunately I collapsed after the 11th. Lee and I covered 34 out of the 37 miles. I never ever gave up but my legs did. I just physically couldn't continue. After a few hours in hospital, it gave me time to reflect on the things that mattered to me most. My family, my friends and every single person that took two minutes to message me. Lee and I laced up our running shoes once more and completed the challenge after Christmas. Psychologically, that's the challenge done and dusted now.
One of the most popular questions I get asked is how do I find the time to train with such a young family?
I'm fortunate enough to work for myself right now so I can enjoy the benefits of popping home and seeing my kids when I want to. I don't have fixed hours either so I can work on a night or early in the morning, this makes time for a few hours with my family on an afternoon. On training days I always wait until my kids are in bed and then I hit the gym. There are only parkrun days and the occasional organised events that are during the day but then my family likes to come out and support me anyway.
I don't want my fitness journey to get in the way of our family time, instead it becomes a reason for our family to do something together. An example of this was last year. We went to Seahouses for an extended weekend and while I was there, I took part in the Bamburgh 10k.
Everyone needs motivation and it can come in many forms.
I enjoy reading quotes, watching videos and listening to music. I do have some other motivation and you can read about it here.
Starting to train again after so many years out was tough but once the first two weeks were out of the way, I could really see the benefits. I don't exercise to look good, I exercise to feel good. When you exercise it releases 'feel good' hormones in the body and I use exercise to combat stress. As it's a new year, you may be embarking on your fitness journey like me.
My advice to you is to choose a realistic target and make sure it's sustainable.
Don't go on some crash weight loss 'drink a shake a day' journey. Instead, go on a lifestyle changing 'I'm in this for the long haul' journey. It will still give you results, they may be slightly longer to achieve but what it will do is make you want to continue. I've seen far too many people lose weight quickly, pat themselves on the back for a few months, return to their old lifestyle and the weight comes back on.
I love Christmas time which is just one of the reasons I chose this time of the year to attempt both of my charity challenges. It's also a difficult time of the year to train. All you want to do is sit around and eat chocolates but creating a charity challenge over Christmas kept me on my toes. During my 12 Days of Christmas challenge I ran at 12am on Christmas Day and I also ran 10 miles on New Years Day morning. Both of these days and leading up to them, I went alcohol free and watched what I ate. It was difficult but I just reminded myself why I was doing this.
That's the thing I found with both of these challenges: Tthey were hard but they were nothing compared to the struggles some people go through on a daily basis. I only had a few days of running and pushing my body to the max. These little fighters have weeks, months and years of pain and they still succeed.
I'd like to personally thank Laura and the rest of the digital team at Pancreatic Cancer UK for asking me to write this guest post. My charity running shoes may be hung up for now but one day I'll get them back down. If anyone reads this and would like to try a challenge of their own, I'd recommend raising awareness for Pancreatic Cancer UK as what they do is fantastic. Striving for survival.
Thanks for reading and I hope there's something in this article that can either relate to and/or take away from it.
If Paul's post has inspired you, then lace up those running shoes! Apply for a charity place in one of our races here, or find your own and let us know - we'll send you a vest and a support pack! Can't wait to have you join our brilliant #TeamPanCanUK!