FASTER, HIGHER, LONGER – LESSONS FROM AFRICA

An epic endurance challenge – traversing a series of iconic locations, running with the fastest runners on the planet. July 2013

An epic endurance challenge – traversing a series of iconic locations, running with the fastest runners on the planet. July 2013

Dr Andrew Murray 32 – is a recent convert to running. But in the last 5 years he has won endurance races in some of the most spectacular and hostile locations imaginable including the Sahara desert, the Jungle, the arctic in Winter and in Outer Mongolia. In 2011 he completed a 2,659 mile run from far North Scotland to the Sahara desert.

2012 was another sucessful year for Andrew, with wins in the North Pole Marathon, Gobi Challenge, the Antarctic Ice Marathon and a further world record running 7 Ultra-marathons, on 7 continents in 5 days, 13hrs 28 mins.

Doc Andrew Murray, S2S challenge

Doc Andrew Murray, S2S challenge

Coverage of these challenges includes television features in over 70 countries and a 1hr BBC documentary.

North Pole 2012, Finish Line

North Pole 2012, Finish Line

Now in his latest and most ambitious challenge Andrew returns to East Africa, the land of his childhood, and home to 92 of the world’s top 100 marathon runners. Andrew will run over an ultra-marathon a day, and over 1000 kilometres in total at altitude, through iconic Game Reserves, through the Rift Valley, and will include runs up the mighty snow-capped Mt Kenya and Kilimanjaro.

His 2013 schedule will also include ultra-marathons in his native Scotland, as well further afield, and the writing of his second book following the success of his first – “Running Beyond Limits: The Adventures of an Ultra Marathon Runner”

Andrew is also a Sports Medicine doctor, work has included with UK Athletics, the European Tour Golf, international football and rugby teams, the Scottish Government, and at the London Olympic and Paralympic Games. He is the Director of Marathon Medical Services. He will use his acclimatization period and contacts to explore what makes a faster marathon runner, how any runner can improve, and what we can learn from the Kenyans for his book, and for a film of his run in East Africa.

This African Odyssey is not only a story of extreme physical and mental endurance set against the backdrop of some of the most iconic and beautiful locations on the planet. It is also a unique look at the science behind running, at the limits of human performance but also at what the average runner can learn from the Kenyans, and other experts to make them enjoy their running, and get better results.

Schedule:

January, 2013
Scoping visit to Kenya. Whilst working with UK Athletics in Kenya, Andrew will speak with some of the best athletes and coaches, explore what makes Kenyan runners the fastest, and test himself at altitude, and in the extreme heat and humidity he can expect.

February – June, 2013
Pushing the body to the limits of human endurance requires complete commitment, desire and an ability to learn. Andrew will speak to the top experts in nutrition, conditioning, and psychology to put himself in the best position to succeed, and to learn how other athletes and runners can obtain their best results. His training will peak out running 185 miles per week, and use Sport Scotland Institute for Sport facilities, as well as training in the mountains of Scotland.

Running the Scottish Mountains

Scottish Mountains

July, 2013

1-5th Acclimatisation.
Without acclimatization, failure is inevitable. For example Andrew will attempt to scale Kilimanjaro in a day, which would risk severe mountain sickness and death without this. Almost every successful distance runner including Mo Farah and Haile Gabreselaise has spent time at the High Altitude Training Camp in Iten, Kenya, which is where Andrew will train.

6-25th, The Challenge.
The challenge begins in the Kenyan Highlands. Andrew will climb the 5000metre Mt Kenya in a day, past farmlands and then up through the rainforest into the bamboo jungle. This takes him up into the cloud forest, before the mountain opens up into alpine scenery, with giant lobelias, before the jagged peaks and glaciers emerge. Andrew will climb over the Lewis glacier and onto Point Lenana where Kilimanjaro can be seen on a clear day.

Point Lenana, Mount Kenya

Point Lenana, Mount Kenya

From there he will head towards the Aberdares, spending a night potentially viewing the big 5 at the Arc, a world famous wildlife hotel, and then into the Great Rift Valley, the cradle of humanity and towards Lake Bogoria, home not only to spectacular geysers but to the greatest concentration of Flamingos acknowledged as one of the greatest wildlife spectacles in Africa. Lake Baringo hosts numerous species of animals, birds, and is surrounded by dramatic escarpments. Next it’s through the Kerio reserve, home to many types of monkey, and into Iten- the undisputed capital of the distance running world, where many world and Olympic champions will be training.

Kakamega Forest reserve is a virgin tropical rainforest showcasing the variety of habitats East Africa has to offer, whilst Hell’s Gate National Park is an amazing and unique environment with a plethora of animals contained within the spectacular gorges and looming cliffs. A further highlight will be an ascent of Mt Longonot, the giant that dominates the surrounding landscape. Magma activity below the volcano, buffalo, leopard and zebra are features of the mountain.

Kenya

Kenya

The hustle and bustle of Nairobi, with the giant elephant tusk gates leads to Olorgesaile Prehistoric site, a World Heritage site in the cradle of civilization. From this point Africa’s highest mountain, Kilimanjaro draws us towards her. Forest gives way to breathtaking montane scenery, with Andrew having run from its base to the top in a day.

During the challenge Andrew will, at altitude, complete over 1000km, and climb over 120 000 feet, more than 4x the height of Mt Everest. He will burn 7000 calories a day – enough for a 700kg crocodile, and enough for 3 men – he will run on glaciers, through desert, over mountains, and through spectacular game reserves.

Andrew

NEW WORK AHEAD

From February 2012 to February 2013 I worked full time pretty much for the Scottish Government as their Physical Activity Champion – I also did some work for London 2012 and others, but my focus was definitely Physical Activity. With Ministers, and our Chief medical Officer leading the charge, we got a lot done. Physical Activity for health is now a much higher priority in Scotland, at National, Local, and Community level.

The reasons for this are obvious – getting people more active saves lives, prevents disease, improves quality of life and saves the taxpayer about £800 million in Scotland. So it’s great to see this high up on the agenda, and great to pass on the role of Physical Activity Champion to Dr David White – no better man.

Here is a fun infographic that can be used freely:
30 Minutes of Exercise – The Key to a Happier Health

I’ll carry on looking to promote physical activity for health in any way I can, but this year my full time work is concluding SEM training, working in sport, with Scottish Rugby, Scottish Institute of Sport, The European Tour Golf, and UK Athletics.

The next 6 weeks will be concentrated on the 6 Nations campaign with Scottish Rugby, working with National Team Doctor, and British Lions doc James Robson. It will also involve work with Edinburgh Rugby, and it will be great to learn from the likes of James, and contribute to the mix.

The Scottish Institute of Sport is another place I’ll be lucky to work, with Dr Brian Walker, and Niall Elliot, working with the performance athletes in Scotland.

Additionally, I’m doing 9 tournaments for the European Tour and Challenge Tour Golf, which will come together to give me a great breadth of experience moving forward

It promises to be an intense, but fantastic year.

MAXIMISE YOUR CALORIE BURN

Maximise Your Calorie BurnSource: GoDo

30 MINUTES OF EXERCISE – THE KEY TO A HAPPIER HEALTH

The Benefits of ExerciseSource: Tribesports.com

RUN THE WORLD, SYDNEY, LEG 7

Run The World challenge - Sydney

Run The World challenge – Sydney

So to Sydney, for the final leg. I’d had what felt like a huge 5 hour sleep on the plane for Dubai, almost doubling my hours for the previous 4 nights. The longer flight had also given my legs a bit of time to recover and arriving at the airport I knew that I’d pretty much done it, save Car accident or Kangaroo attack!

My mate Adam Hall had sorted a route in from the airport, and then around the sights of Sydney, so all I basically needed to do was run. It was a bright blue day hitting about 26 Celsius, a pleasant day for running.

15km took us into the city, and although my feet stung with each step, I only had 35km to go. The sea sparkled, as we dived through the botanical gardens to see the iconic Sydney opera house for the first time, with the famous harbour bridge connecting the North and the South shores behind. I was totally caught up in Sydney, not even thinking about the discomfort of my feet, or amazing places I’d recently been to.

We explored both North and South of the city, in parks, coastlines, beach, and the city. We were joined by Graeme Parry and Steve Burnie, both friends that live in Sydney. We did a few interviews, and had a couple pit stops for water etc.

We were almost finished, with a kilometre to go I looked around to see South Sydney behind me as we neared the opera house and the finish. Also behind was Antarctica and its savage beauty and extreme sub zero temperatures. My mind raced through legs in South America, Atlanta USA; past big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in London; the pyramids of Egypt at dawn and as I thought of the bright lights of Dubai, I smiled. There it was, the finish line, and the opera house. It’s an image had kept me going when I was tired, injured, and nervous. It’s sails glinted as we arrived.

So we’d done it. Too many people to mention had helped me run 7 ultra marathons, on the 7 continents, in 5 days 13 hours and 28 minutes. Apparently this is almost a day and a half faster than the existing record. The kindness and expertise of friends and family had dragged me to the finish line, exhausted, sleep deprived, and needing the beer and custard that greeted me at the line.

Run The World challenge - Finish

Run The World challenge – Finish

In retrospect, I’d underestimated how difficult it would be, thinking that running 2660 miles to the Sahara desert would have been much harder. It wasn’t! The sleep deprivation, and flights made this a huge mental challenge. I was spurred on by the over 1700 5×50.co.uk challengers, and the 450 tribesports guys walking, cycling or running with me this week.

I’d like to thank everyone for their messages of support that I received. I appreciated each and every one. I’d also like to thank my main partners UVU, 5×50, tribesports, the Balmoral, and footworks.

So more challenges await. I’ll be back at work on Monday, working for the Scottish Government to get people more physically active more often. This is THE fundamental health challenge of our age, and I’m delighted that such priority is being given to this issue by the ministers and the senior health guys.

Whilst I’ll take on other challenges soon, getting Scotland active is the big show in town. Getting Scots more active is a bit like RunTheWorld as it is a binary issue. Either we are going to do it or we are not. We do not, and should not lack ambition with this. Everyone can play a role in this, if you haven’t seen the video 23 1/2 hours, check it out, and share.

Before getting back to work there are a load of interviews, and more flights to get me home. It was 38 Celsius in Sydney today, and I had a surf and went for a walk as well as a beer watching the cricket. I could have got used to being in Australia.

Andrew

LESSONS FROM WEAKNESS – Why I run

Andrew Murray, running from Scotland to Sahara

Andrew Murray, running from Scotland to Sahara

Desire is frequently stronger than fear. For me, the desire for a challenge and to test myself tend to exceed a fear of failure. Love is definitely stronger than fear. Many life and death stories bear this out.

Setting a challenge that is sufficiently difficult and committing to it 100% is a sure way to learn more about your failings and yourself. I’ve been taught not to be proud and to accept help. Others seeing you visibly struggling know who you really are, rather than a controlled persona. If people accept you when you fail, when you are weak, then there is reassurance in that.

If experience is the best teacher, then we learn most when we are vulnerable and exposed. The light always looks more attractive from the shadows. I like most am reluctant to discuss my weaknesses and vulnerabilities but have gleaned much from times like these. Whether or not I’ve eventually achieved what I set out to do, the darker times reveal the most.

I learnt a bit of French, and read a few books when running from John O’Groats to the Sahara and learnt how to look at myself more honestly in the mirror, to embrace the lessons that difficulties bring. How can we be most resilient when this is needed? I enjoyed the good days but the bad ones were lessons. They helped me be more sympathetic when other people are struggling, and gave me perspective – my problems were only really sore legs when it came down to it.

I can’t guarantee success with RunTheWorld. We’re aiming to give prominence to the message of Physical Activity for Health, and raise some money for SAMH. I’ll aim to complete 7 Ultras on 7 continents in 7 days, after the Ice Marathon in Antarctica. There is a decent chance of achieving these things but there is close to 100% chance of me wanting to give up at times. I guess this is standard when normal people try and do things that are relatively hard.

Following any challenge, perspective becomes skewed – and the rose – tinted spectacles go on. We usually remember the good times. I guess the memories of good times and the prospect of more to come is why I run but difficult experiences can bring their own gifts. There is comfort in knowing what you are not, and how you can learn.

Thanks for your support,

Andrew

 

RUN 7 ULTRA MARATHONS ON 7 CONTINENTS IN 7 DAYS – Video

Dr Andrew Murray takes on the Challenge to run 7 ultra marathons on 7 continents in 7 days! As the physical health champion of the Scottish government, Andrew has already taken on Scotland to Sahara Challenge and was the winner of the North Pole Marathon. Now, he is set to start his Ultra challenge whilst trying to promote that everyone can find 30 minutes in their day to get active!

Get more active and sign-up to the 5×50 challenge, and visit and join tribesports.com

 

JOIN ANDREW RUNNING AROUND THE WORLD IN 7 DAYS – November 2012

Andrew Murray, a GP, and the Scottish Government’s Physical Activity Champion is gearing up for his most gruelling challenge yet when he runs seven ultra marathons on seven continents over seven consecutive days, immediately after completing the Ice Marathon in Antarctica.

Andrew, 32 from Aberdeen, now living in Edinburgh, has been running for seven years and has completed gruelling challenges before including famously running 2,660 miles from Scotland to the Sahara. Winning this years North Pole Marathon and racing in some of the world’s most hostile and spectacular locations including the high Himalaya, the Indonesian jungle, and in Genghis Khan’s hoofprints in outer Mongolia.

RunTheWorld Challenge

This time around, Andrew has set everyone the challenge of joining in. While his destinations will be Antarctica, Patagonia, Atlanta-USA, London, the Pyramids of Egypt, Dubai and finishing his incredible journey at the Sydney Opera House, Australia, everyone can sign-up FREE to 5×50.co.uk to walk, run, or cycle 5 kms each day for the week he is away. Each competitor who enters can win themselves prizes such as signed Chris Hoy t-shirts and Scotland Rugby goodies as well as luxury get aways at the iconic Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh.

Andrew will travel economy class 41,000 kms around the world, will burn 6500 calories a day – enough for a 600kg crocodile – go through seven pairs of socks and run on glaciers, through deserts and mountains, and past iconic landmarks like the pyramids, all in just seven days.

In addition to getting people active, Andrew is raising money for SAMH – Get Active raising awareness of the benefits of Physical Activity for mental health and hopes to raise over £10,000.

Andrew Murray said: “It’s a genuine challenge, athletically and logistically. It is a fantastic way to challenge myself and see some of the world in fast forward! But the most important thing is to raise awareness of the benefits of exercise – being active regularly is the single best thing for your health. It cuts the risk of dying early by 30% and is good for the brain. If we get 6,000 people to walk or run 5km a day for a week, that’s enough to go around the world five times! Both my feet and myself were totally wrecked after running to the Sahara, and it’ll be no different this time I’m sure, but it’ll be worth it.

Low fitness kills as many as smoking- almost 1 in 10 of the world’s population. I’m pleased the Scottish Government is recognising the scale of the problem and encouraging and supporting people to get active and stay active.”

Sir Chris Hoy, a SAMH ambassador said: “If everyone in Scotland changed just one aspect of their lifestyle, such as walking to the shops instead of taking their car, it could make a huge difference to their physical and mental health. I would like to encourage everyone to Get Active.

Record-breaking long-distance cyclist Mark Beaumont added: “Running an ultra marathon every day for a week is incredible enough without having to contend with a huge dollop of jet lag and a temperature range of between -25 and +35 degrees Celsius! I have been friends with Andrew for a number of years and we are equally passionate about promoting activity and challenges as a part of everyone’s life.”

Scotland’s Sport Minister Shona Robison said: “While Andrew’s previous runs were certainly adventures, this will break new ground. More importantly, it will focus attention on what is one of the most important health challenges we face today – physical inactivity. I’m encouraging Scots to sign up and tell friends about 5×50.co.uk – each step is a step to health and I’ll be doing it too.”

Chris Cusiter, Scotland rugby player commented: “Running 7 ultra marathons on 7 continents over 7 days is about the only thing that could top running from Scotland to the Sahara-unbelievable, and might even be tougher than facing the All Blacks!  We’ll be following him @docandrewmurray on twitter. It’s great that everyone has the chance to join in the fun via 5×50.co.uk and tribesports.com

For more information on Andrew Murray, please visit DocAndrewMurray.com
To sign-up and for more information on the 5x50challenge, visit 5×50.co.uk
For more information on SAMH visit samh.org.uk
To donate, please visit my JustGiving page.

PRESS:
For further information, interviews or images please contact:
Chris or Emma at Genuine PR on Telephone: 0141 243 2621
Email: chris@genuinepr.com or emma@genuinepr.com

NOTES:
Andrew Murray works for the Scottish Government as their Physical Activity Champion. He additionally works as a GP, and a doctor for Heart of Midlothian, and The European Tour Golf. He is the author of the book “Running Beyond Limits”.

SAMH is the Scottish Association for Mental Health. SAMH is a mental health charity working across Scotland. SAMH believes in mental health and well-being for all: sport and physical activity has a huge role to play in achieving this and that’s why SAMH runs the Get Active programme, launched in 2009 by SAMH ambassador Sir Chris Hoy.

9% of the world’s population due to a lack of physical activity (The Lancet, 2012)
It kills more than obesity, or Alcohol Excess (The Lancet, the WHO)
Chief Medical Officer guidelines recommend a minimum on 30 minutes 5x per week of any type of physical activity- everything counts
Children should do an hour a day, which improves performance at school, and health.

ADDITIONAL QUOTE:
Chief Medical Officer for Scotland Sir Harry Burns said: “There is no doubt that regular physical activity/ exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health. We’re determined to help get Scotland Active, as this can increase life expectancy and save money for the health service. Andrew has trained hard to put himself in the position to run 7 ultra-marathons on 7 continents in 7 days, and this is an inspiration. I’ll be taking part in the 5×50.co.uk Run the World challenge to support this, and urge everyone to do likewise.”

SPONSORS:
Find out about Andrew’s sponsors.

 

JOIN THE 5×50 RUN THE WORLD CHALLENGE

Dr Andrew Murray explains why the 5×50 Run The World Challenge is a great idea for your health !

Join us, sign-up and bring a friend or two with you.

 

BAREFOOT, MINIMALIST & NATURAL RUNNING – WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

“Barefoot”, “Minimalist” and “Natural Running,” what does it mean ?
Donnie Campbell explains the differences between Heel Striking and Natural Running, and gives a few tips to make the transition.

These types of running have become more popular especially since the book Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall.

For me, they are all very similar (if I am honest I would struggle to tell the difference between them!), so I like to just refer to them as Natural Running. The main focus of Natural Running is foot placement and landing within your centre of gravity to increase running efficiency.

This is achieved by landing midfoot with a high cadence (leg turnover speed) to use the elastic recoil in the tendons (elasticity of the tendon). Evidence has shown that Natural Running is more efficient and economical, also all the elite African runners land midfoot and they are not too bad at running, with 70 of the top 100 worlds marathon runners coming from Kenya !

Heel Striking
The phases of heel strike, midstance and toe-off during running

Natural Running
Natural Running, How To Run

So why is Natural Running more efficient than Heel Striking ?

  • When Heel Striking your leg is straight when the heel contacts the ground thus entering a breaking phase before the foot rolls forward where as with natural running the foot is already on its way back when it contacts the ground.
  • Natural Running uses the elastic recoil in the tendons with a small stride and high cadence whereas with heel striking has a long stride and a lower cadence. The easiest way to demonstrate this is by bouncing on the spot, first try bouncing every one second (Heel Striking) now try just bounce as many times as you can (Natural Running) what did you find easier ?

Does Natural Running reduce the rate of injury compared to Heel striking ?

Debatable ! The fully converted Natural Runners will argue: “yes, it does reduce the injury rate”. We have all heard the stories, I could barely run 5k without getting injured but since I have read Born to Run I have thrown away my trainers I am now running injury free (if it was only that simple!). The skeptics will argue: “show me the hard reliable scientific evidence”.

There is very limited actual research on this topic but the most recent study carried out by Daniel E. Lieberman at Harvard University does suggest that running naturally will reduce the rate of injury after you go through the transitional phase. Also in other studies, he has shown the impact relation between heel striking and midfoot striking.

So how do I transition to Natural Running ?

Yes, I have heard it all before it is only the naturally gifted that can run barefoot !

Well, I strongly disagree with this statement. Yes, Natural Running might not be for some people as it is a personal choice, but I believe that every one that was born barefoot can run naturally if coached properly and given the time to go through the transitional phase from wearing normal shoes, barring some people who have serious illness or injuries that effect the biomechanics of the legs and feet.

The easy way to learn a new sport is to hire a coach and get lessons, learning to run naturally is exactly the same. Find a reputable coach who can teach you the correct technique, monitor your training and progression and fix any bad habits that might lead to injury or impaired performance.

If you can’t afford a coach here are the basics:

  • Research Natural Running Technique
  • Look at the coaching videos and drills for Natural Running
  • Start slowly you are learning a new skill and your body will need time to adapt, I suggest start with one small run a week and gradually build from there and in the meantime to keep your fitness levels up by cross training and the other coaching drill.
  • Remember you are at a higher chance of injury during the transition phase as your body is under a lot of stress as it learns a new movement pattern and develops stronger muscles and tendons.
  • If you pick up a small injury REST, or you will only make it worst.

For more information or coaching on Natural Running, please contact me.