3 Jun

Under Doctor's Orders

Dr MurrayHaving run from John O’Groats to the Sahara Desert, completed seven ultra marathons on seven continents in consecutive days and taking first place at the North Pole Marathon, Dr. Andrew Murray’s running CV is like a bucket list for runners.  Here, he tells us about the many benefits of running.

WHEN DID THE RUNNING BEGIN? 
BY ACCIDENT to be honest. My friend was forced to pull out of Inverness Half Marathon around 10 years ago and he needed someone to take his place.  I had been getting some stick from my pals at 5-a-side about being unfit, so I thought training for the race would help!

WHY IS RUNNING SO IMPORTANT TO YOU?  
IT JUST has countless benefits. I’ve always loved to travel, so for me it makes sense to race in places I’ve wanted to visit. Whenever I travel to an event I meet new people and hear about their experiences. 
 
FIRST BIG RACE?  
MANCHESTER MARATHON in ‘ 94 - 4:24. 
  
I’VE BEEN ...  
WORKING TO promote regular physical activity as the single best thing you can do for your health. I’m working now for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, having previously worked as the Physical Activity Champion for the Scottish Government. These positions allowed us to push the awareness of the benefits of physical health and there’s evidence showing we are now becoming more active in Scotland, bucking the international trend. I feel this has been down to a number of reasons: local authorities providing encouragement throughout the community; information circulating about both the physical and mental health benefits; and people simply taking the initiative and looking after their health. 
 
AS RUNNERS IN THE UK ...  
WE ARE spoiled for choice in terms of scenery. I’ve been very fortunate being able to combine running and travelling, but some spots in the UK - the Giant’s Causeway, Northumberland and Ben Lomond - are unparalleled in terms of beauty and incredible areas to go for a run. 
 
WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO RUN IN THE NORTH POLE?  
IT’S UNLIKE anything I have ever experienced. You can hear the water slapping at the ice under your feet, the threat of ice breaking up, temperatures creeping below -30°C and the faint prospect of bumping into polar bears. [Ed’s note: Murray took first place overall at the North Pole marathon in 2012].
 
FAVOURITE RACE?  
IT’S ALWAYS the race I’m doing next. Looking ahead to the nearest event in the calendar allows me to concentrate on my training and retain my attention for what is coming up. 
 
HOW DO YOU MANAGE TO FIT EVERYTHING IN?  
I THINK it’s about prioritising what you want to do and cutting out the stuff you don’t need. For example, I rarely watch TV. In Kenya, only 2% of the population own a set, while as a country they make up more than 60% of the top long distance athletes. 
 
ADVICE FOR POTENTIAL ULTRA RUNNERS?  
ALWAYS FOLLOW the 10% rule and increase your training gradually. If you are aiming to tackle an ultra, choose a race you really want to do; this will make a massive difference to your motivation levels. Finally, don’t think about the race as a whole distance, split it into manageable chunks, this will make it easier to tackle. 
 
For more details or to follow the run Dr Murray's website or on Twitter.