John Mills tells us about his marathon motivation and how training helps him manage his MS
Here’s a quick introduction for those of you that don’t know me. My name’s John Mills and I’m going to be running the London Marathon for MS-UK this year.
I was delighted to be asked to blog on the run-up to the big race by the team at MS-UK. It’s a cause that’s very personal to me. The year 2017 was one of big changes. My wife gave birth to our beautiful daughter, I turned 30, and I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS).
In this blog, and further forthcoming ones, I will write about my journey and progress from the perspective of a runner, how my training is progressing and how my MS is in relation to this.
I tried my hardest for over a year to ignore my diagnosis. I didn’t want MS to define who I was but, with the help of MS-UK, I have now realised that I can help define the condition instead, by raising awareness and promoting the fantastic work that MS-UK do.
Having already started fundraising, raising over £2,000 in a month, and meeting 20 or so #TeamPurple runners at a recent event means that there is now no turning back for me!
I am using the Nike Running Club (NRC) app for no other reason really than I have had it since 2013 and I know what to expect when using its training plans.
Royal Parks run
To get me off to the best start possible, I signed up for the Royal Parks Half Marathon. I am so pleased that I did. More than anything, I learnt what to expect come the 26 April 2020.
Here is what I took away from the day.
1. As silly as it sounds, 16,000 people is a lot to get across the start (and finish) line and that number will be doubled come April, which feels a little overwhelming.
2. Headphones are not needed. You won’t need headphones come race day (for training they are a must, for me anyway) as there is so much more going on to keep you occupied other than a playlist; the sights of London, steel bands, marching bands and the incredible support. It’s amazing that someone who you have never met before shouting your name can put a smile on your face after just having ran 13 miles!
3. Try to at least roughly plan where your supporters will be beforehand as you will undoubtedly miss them, as I did, if you don’t know where they are. My first recommendation to anybody running the marathon for the first time is to try and get some race day experience so you know what to expect.
My wife Sasha and I ran the Colchester half marathon for the MS Society back in 2016 because someone Sasha knows had been diagnosed with MS earlier that year. We raised £1,800 and, ironically, I had no idea that just a year later I’d be diagnosed myself.
I’ve always enjoyed running, but even more so now, as for me it is a form of meditation. All I need to think about is putting one foot in front of the other – nothing else matters. You are only competing against yourself. I wanted to act now with regards to running a marathon because with MS you just don’t know if or when it will have a greater impact on your everyday life.
Running and, more specifically, training for the Royal Parks half marathon and now the London marathon is part of my daily routine. It may sound odd, but if I wasn’t running, fatigue would get the better of me and I would spend the rest of the day in bed.
Today is a perfect example of that. I find maintaining a routine is key and exercise forms a strong part of that. I’m told that there is science behind that, but I am by no means an expert. All I know is that it helps me.
Training for the marathon is a great incentive for me to get out and maintain a certain level of fitness. After a run I get a sense of accomplishment and feel like I am beating MS one day at a time.
Currently I am not on any disease-modifying therapy for my MS, but I am due to start Ocrevus which works perfectly around training as it’s a six-monthly infusion. I take it as a sign that I am supposed to be running this marathon.
To sponsor John, visit his JustGiving page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/john-mills-msmyselfandi
I began fundraising for MS-UK back in 2017. It was an obvious choice of charity as my grandad was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) when he was younger and lived with it for many years.
Pretty much all of my memories of my grandad, minus any earlier photos are of him living with MS. Really you know no different when you are younger, and for my brother and me, this was normal. A more vivid and charming memory is how he would always have a tin of humbug sweets which we would help ourselves to whenever we visited him.
I have always wanted to run a half marathon. Saying that I have always wanted to say I have completed a full marathon, but expectation and reality are worlds apart. A good, or not so good starting point was to sign up to a half marathon when on a sun lounger, with a cocktail, in Mexico and forced myself into training upon my return. I thought if I’m signed up, I’m committed, and I really was committed to raising as much money as possible in honour of my grandad and for such an amazing charity.
The training was going well, it was hard and I was often faced with the mentality of “I’ll do it tomorrow”, but I was gradually getting my runs in and my miles up. Ultimately I wasn’t too fussed about hitting a certain time or pace, for me it was about the finish line, not finish time. My goal was to post as much as I could on social media, text as many people as I knew and keep sharing the event with as many people as possible.
In October 2017, I ran, completed, and surprisingly didn’t pass out after my first half marathon. It was hard work! The atmosphere was amazing, and the supporters throughout the race were incredible, especially those handing out Jelly Babies! I hit a wall on the ninth mile but continued with some kind of walk/run. I thought of how proud my grandad would have been to have seen me, and to have known I was running for the charity. Not only that, but some people don’t have a choice in their abilities and limitations because of their health. I should be ecstatic that I have the ability to finish a race and for such a good cause!
After the race, I said I wasn’t going to run another half marathon, but I would raise money for MS-UK in other ways.
May 2019, I signed up for my second half marathon....!
Same thoughts, same struggles, but through amazing friends and family and sponsorship I have been able to raise over £1,200 across both runs. I said I wouldn’t run another half marathon, but I guess I’ll be at the start line in 2020. Wish me luck!
If you would like to donate to Lauren's amazing efforts, please visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lauren-chrimes2. Thank you! If you, like Lauren, want to take on a new challenge, call Lucy on 01206 226500 or email email@example.com.
On Sunday 13 October 2019 our Events Fundraiser Jenny supported the Royal Parks Half Marathon…
We had an amazing team of 14 take on the Royal Parks Half Marathon this year. It was a muddy one! The rain during the night before made the start and finish line very muddy so our runners knew they were going to get very messy – if only you could run in wellington boots!
Despite the overcast, drizzly weather the team were in great spirits. They were supported by our cheer point of volunteers at mile 11, all of whom had taken part in running events before so they knew how to give that much needed encouragement. And of course, we kept up our reputation of being the noisiest cheer point on the route! I would like to say a massive thank you to all our supporters – it makes a huge difference!
I would also like to say a big congratulations to our #TeamPurple runners who have so far raised an epic £4,162.82, which is well over target, with more funds set to come in. Every penny goes towards supporting those affected by multiple sclerosis to live happier and healthier lives – thank you!
Have you been inspired by this event? MS-UK have places in the Vitality Big Half in London on the 02 March 2020. The minimum fundraising requirement or this event is £250.00. To register your interest call Jenny today on 01206 226500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this guest blog, Shaun Collins tells us about why he has taken on not just one run in aid of MS-UK, but many! This weekend he will be joining #TeamPurple at the Royal Parks Half Marathon, here’s why…
My journey with MS-UK started in 2017 after my good friend Lewis Miller had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS).
After his diagnosis, Lewis had continued running marathons and around that time I had started running again. Whilst at that point I thought I’d be happy once I’d managed a 5k, I had always had the thought in my mind to run a marathon having grown up in London and I no longer really had an excuse. If Lewis could do it with what he was going through, what excuse did I have for not doing it!
Having made the decision, I went online to find an Autumn marathon and started by running the Birmingham Marathon in 2017. It didn’t go to plan, I hit the much talked about wall and walked most of the last 11 miles!
I have since continued running and thanks to MS-UK, got a place to take part in the Virgin Money London Marathon in 2018 which really did fulfil a lifelong ambition and this time I managed to run the whole marathon which was my aim!
I have had a year off doing marathons due to the birth of our third child but decided I still needed to do something again so I chose to run the Great North Run and Royal Parks Half Marathons this year continuing to raise money for MS-UK!
The team at MS-UK, particularly Jenny, have been amazing and have been so supportive through every event I have done!
If you would like to sponsor me for my events this year, visit my JustGiving page.
My work will match fund up to £1,000 so for every donation you give, the amount will be doubled!
I have plans to run three marathons in eight weeks next year so watch this space for more ways that you can support me and MS-UK!
Join #TeamPurple at one of our 2020 events!
‘Our sister and cousin, Nicola, 48 year old mother of three, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2017.
‘Obviously such a diagnosis came as a shock to us all. From the beginning the support she has received from MS-UK has been tremendous. It gave her a forum to discuss her fears and engage with people who also have MS. In turn, it continues to give her strength and courage and is empowering her to live her life to the fullest.
‘Through Nicola we heard about the MS-UK sponsored places at the Royal Parks Half Marathon and as runners, it was an obvious way for us to give back, do an activity that we love, make a difference...all in all, a win-win situation.
‘Out the outset, as busy people, we wanted to keep our fundraising efforts simple to achieve our target of £800.
‘We canvassed family for their suggestions on how best to raise the money and the consensus was very much in favour of fundraising activities rather than just donations. This enabled us to bring our family and friends together and the desire to have some fun along the way!
‘We agreed our two events would be a garden tea party and a quiz to make the most of the lovely summer we had this year. Both activities exceeded our expectations – you can see we raised an amazing amount on our fundraising page!
‘The key challenge for us was to ensure that our guests at both events went away feeling they had an enjoyable experience and the £10 fee was good value. Feedback from both events exceeded our expectations, with suggestions we should set up our own afternoon tea business and turn the quiz into an annual event.
‘We smashed our target and raised approximately £1,200, which enabled us to spend the latter two months focusing on training for the race.
‘Both of us came away from this experience feeling a sense of pride in achieving some personal physical targets (we both set a new personal best) and in our own small way we have made a difference.
‘So what’s next? We are delighted to be volunteer stewards for the upcoming Colchester Half Marathon and looking to engage as many family members. Maybe we will see you there!
Karen and Maxine
This weekend our amazing #TeamPurple runners will be taking on the challenge of the Royal Parks Half Marathon - good luck!
The event kicks off at 9am on Sunday 14 October and is set in four of London's Royal Parks: Hyde Park, The Green Park, St James's Park and Kensington Gardens. It is the perfect autumnal tour of central London’s most exquisite outdoor spaces, and we can't wait to cheer everyone on!
If you can't make the event but want to stay updated, you can follow @MSUK6 on Twitter and enjoy the action in real time!
Good luck from all of us here at MS-UK, your efforts mean we can support people affected by multiple sclerosis to really make the most of each day - thank you!