Category: David’s Column

20 tips for 2020

January 15th, 2020

2020. A new year and a new decade has begun and it’s time to lace up those running shoes and get rid of those extra christmas pounds. I personally am not a fan of the icy January weather, but all you have to remember is the fantastic cause you are helping and that will help you along your way. Many runners are going to be scared by the single digits so it’s a great opportunity to get ahead of the game. In order to get us runners back out there I have put together 20 tips for 2020 to keep you running throughout.

1. Understand that you’re probably not going to beat Mo Farah.

He is one very fast man.

2. Race with yourself 

Beating your own personal best is one of the most rewarding feelings and remember its your race your running, don’t focus on anyone else’s speed and times.

3. GO! GO! GO!

Do not procrastinate any further (even if it means stop reading this article) go out there and run!

4. Give yourself time to heal  

Even elite athletes don’t run every day of the week. If you don’t give yourself a couple days off you won’t reap the benefits of your training.

5. Keep on going (Oh how typical)

Not stopping running means you can keep the momentum going and I personally think this is better then stopping to have a breath.

6. Sleep well

Being well rested is essential to a productive run . Now you have an excuse to  tell your family when you sleep til the mid afternoon, because your a half marathon runner, obviously .

7. Join a running group

Maybe hold off on that one as something may be coming your way, hint hint.

8. Stay Hydrated

Simple. Drink water. Run. Drink water. Run.

9. Make a goal.

Make sure these goals are achievable such as running for eight miles without stopping by april. Running 15 miles in under an hour on the other hand is not.

10. Find a good playlist

Music for me is essential to a good run, good music with personal meaning behind it will carry you forward when you feel like giving up. Try ABBA, you’ll be surprised how fast you go.

11. Incentivise 

Like I said in the last blog post, having a treat waiting for you when you get home will help you on that home stretch

12. Shake it up 

Different surfaces, different speeds, different gear. Believe it or not running can              get a bit boring day in day out, running the same route, so change it up to keep you interested.

13. 2020 miles in 2020

For our pro dedicated runners out there set yourself this goal. This equates to around 38 miles a week. That means five 7.6 mile runs a week. Wow!

14. Stretch those legs 

Not warming up can be a fatal error and can lead to the ever glorious stiff legs when you wake up on a Monday morning. To combat this stretch before and after your runs. Foam rollers can be helpful with aches and pains and are relatively inexpensive.

15. Have a warm up race.

If your only race this year is the Great North Run, try and warm up with a 10 mile or half marathon before the big day. This means you can get rid of all those nerves and you’ll feel like a pro going into it. Don’t enter one a week before, this will only leave you injury ridden, try about June or July.

16. Eat well.

Eating seven pies and a packet of biscuits before a run will most likely make you throw up, so always make sure you have something light before a run. Likewise, if you don’t eat you will likely feel faint. Even on the days when you don’t run, still eat well as it will help you in the long run.

17. Quality over quantity

Running a shorter distance, but putting more effort into it is a lot better than running for 10 miles but stopping every 10 minutes.

18. Use a training app

These are usually free and are great for tracking your progress. I use Nike’s running app, it gives you targets and rewards when you achieve them. Seeing how far you have come can be very inspiring.

19. Work on your Weaknesses

If you’re struggling running uphill or focusing while running, don’t ignore these issues in your training. Face them and train to get better at them, it will help you in the long run (no pun intended)


20. Just have fun!

At the end of the day, whether you run the distance in one hour or three, it really doesn’t matter. Don’t get too caught up in split times and focus on the fact with every run you’re becoming stronger and that your supporting a fantastic cause whilst doing so.

How to Tone Those Turkey Legs & Keep Running Over the Christmas Period

December 18th, 2019

All of December from the 1st to the 31st, everyone’s favourite festive activity seems to be eating everything from mince pies to roast turkey.

In this time of celebration, lots of people forget all about running (what half marathon next year?) and let their years worth of hard work and training lose the battle against the chocolates you receive every year without fail, from the distant family members you barely know the names of.

More worryingly this can lead to a decrease in motivation towards training coming into January and February and your chances of hitting that PB come the end of 2020 are looking slimmer.

However, here is your one stop guide to keeping on the roads and off the pigs in blankets. I am obviously not a dietary expert so take these ideas with a pinch of salt (not too much however) and remember you are allowed to enjoy yourself throughout this season, but keep these tips in mind.

Every mince pie = 1 Mile

This should make you able to justify your excessive consumption to yourself, as you will definitely run that 36 (and a quarter) mile run this week.

Use the cold as a motivator

If you think to yourself when out running, of that warm fireplace waiting for you on your arrival home, you will run twice as fast… probably.

Amazing views

Just think of the views you will get of that winter sun when you leave the house, also you will be the only runner to enjoy them with others tucked up inside while you’re working hard.

Running one step ahead of the competition

Many runners will be using this time period to rest and put their feet up after a hard year of training but not you, you will continue throughout and thus be a stronger runner in 2020.

Excuse for new Gear

That running jacket you could never justify, those cool trail shoes you thought you’d never need? Think again, Christmas is the time to give, and this includes giving to yourself, so treat yourself and buy some new gear before you hit those frosty roads .

Maybe the cold is not for you?

If even the thought of running in the winter breeze gives you a sniffle, then consider going down to your local gym and hitting the treadmill instead. The warmth in the gym will give similar conditions to running in the summer. A good idea is to run on an incline as running on a flat treadmill is no good for your ankles, so run on a 1% incline and above if you fancy challenging yourself.

Incentivise with the odd treat.

See you can enjoy yourself, within reason, think about that turkey when you get home after your run, yet again it will likely make you run faster and keep your mind positive in the bitter winter winds


Nice as it may seem,  we all know that running is not our priority during the festivities so see if you can utilise a couple of these tips to keep you going, even if its just once or twice a month , I guarantee you will see the benefits come the new year.

The next time I will be writing here is in 2020, so have a “Runtastic” (no, surprisingly I did not find that pun in a cracker) Christmas and see you then!

(In the meantime, please click the heart below if you’ve enjoyed the read!)



My 2019 Great North Run

December 12th, 2019

This year’s great north run was my first half marathon and my first run for Dragonfly Cancer Trust.

Along with being one of the most painful experiences of my life, it was also one of the most rewarding. Personally this run meant a lot to me, because as a child I struggled with mobility and had to regain the ability to run, therefore completing this had always been a dream of mine.

Onto the day of the run. The day started for me at around 7:00am when I woke, had my breakfast and got on my dragonfly top, got a quick photo and left for the run.. Upon arriving in Newcastle, the atmosphere was electric, the sun was shining and everyone was glowing. We were all ready for the task in hand.

Like most of the runners, nature was calling, hence the one and a half hour wait for the world’s largest collection of portaloos. Whilst being a rather painful experience, it was also a great for meeting fellow runners and finding out other peoples stories. This took me until around 10:00am and gave me 40 minutes until start time. Eventually as the workout came to a close and final preparations were completed, it was 10:40 and we set off.

My first impressions were how alarmingly fast I started. My first mile came in at 6’32” and stayed around there for the first parts of the run. The atmosphere from the crowd was incredible and a real motivator to keep going at this pace. At points (in particular mile 8) it was  difficult to keep going, however, the thought of the cause I was running for kept me motivated and proved to be a great inspiration.

The last push of my run finished on a 7’23” mile and it was a great feeling to return to my home of South Shields. Finishing the run in the time I did was a great surprise to me as I was aiming for around 01:45 time therefore finishing in 01:36.06 was an amazing achievement.


The true challenge of the race, however, was finding the charity tent!

The labyrinth of charity tents proves to be quite difficult to navigate and it felt like running the race again trying to find it. After what felt like around 3 years, I discovered the tent where Jane and Sarah, as well as my family were waiting for me. I felt a surge of pride upon entering as it occurred to me how hard I worked towards this moment and how the money I had raised would help towards this fantastic cause.

From this day onwards I decided to continue volunteering for Dragonfly Cancer Trust and hence writing this blog ! For all those interested in running next year I hope this provides some insight into what the Great North Run will be like.




December 4th, 2019

Here is the blog devoted to all things dragonfly and running related as we prepare for the Great North Run 2020.

I am David and I volunteer on a weekly basis at the Dragonfly Cancer Trust office in Newcastle. Last year was my first Great North Run (only 2 months after my 17th birthday) and it’s safe to all the members of the Dream Team smashed it!

Unintentionally, I finished first for the Dream Team (do not ask me how because I still don’t know) which was a  huge success as I ran a personal best time of 01:36:06 finishing 1702nd overall, 31st for my age group and I managed to do that whilst raising money for this incredible cause.

Although it was painful at times (the rubbing and losing a toenail) and probably the hardest thing I have done, the feeling of elation as I crossed the finish line was like nothing else. Which is why I invite you to join the Dream Team for 2020.

This year is going to the biggest run yet for us and we are pulling out all the stops to make sure its your biggest run too, whether you’re a Great North Run veteran or a newbie like I was last year. This year for us is all about building a team so although we may start in different positions, together we are united, and we all have each other’s backs.

So, Sign up! What’s stopping you, you still have plenty of time! It doesn’t matter whether the longest you’ve run is to the bus stop on a Monday morning, together as a team this year we will help each other so we can all achieve our potential and help this great cause.