Loving Every Stride Podcast

Inspiring Story On How To Become A Marathoner After Overcoming Injuries with Gary Blackman

November 24, 2021 Paul Laslett, Marie Droniou -Bordry and Gary Blackman Season 1 Episode 7
Loving Every Stride Podcast
Inspiring Story On How To Become A Marathoner After Overcoming Injuries with Gary Blackman
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of the Loving Every Stride podcast, host Paul Laslett and co-host Marie Droniou-Bordry welcome special guest Gary Blackman to the show to discuss his journey from entering the running world to falling in love with it.

Gary takes us through: why he elected to have hip surgery which kept him out for 8 months; the reason he now favours ultra marathons over shorter distances; and why taking care of your body should always be the priority.

So tune in and get inspired!


Gary Blackman can be found here:



Paul Laslett can be found here:

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Marie Droniou-Bordry can be found here:



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Paul Laslett  0:02  
Welcome to loving every stride the podcast that will help make your running easier, brought to you by ex national athlete and UK record holder all of laslett powered by the bright side pte community. For more information and access to your very own running faster formula which will make your running easier. Click on the link in the show notes. Enjoy the show and see you on the bright side

Paul Laslett  0:34  
Hello, and welcome to another episode of loving every stride. Today we have a special guest on with us now I've been stalking this man on Instagram for a little while. And I'm really allowed to say that or not. But I really like his content. I'll tell you, I shall tell you why. And then I'll bring the man on himself. I like his content because I I can relate to it. It's very easy to follow. Sometimes it's even funny. And yeah, and there's a compliment with. And it's really interesting to track someone's journey about what they're doing and what they're up to the clearly loves. They're running. So Gary, welcome to the show. Thank you very much for being here. 

Gary Blackman  1:22  
Hi Paul, It's great to be on it share my journey a little bit. 

Paul Laslett  1:26  
Yeah, I think like I said, I definitely think you've got what you've done. I'm hoping will inspire our listeners and just give people a bit of an insight. But I mean, like we talked before jumping on and running wasn't something you did all of your life. We play football a bit as well then you so be just really interested just give us a bit of background around how you stumbled into this amazing world that we've got that is running. 

Gary Blackman  1:49  
Yeah, goes back a long way I probably didn't really come into running until probably until my mid 20s. I think he probably even towards the late 20s I used to play football reasonable level you speak goalkeeper played up to a county league level and then kind of fell out of love have a bit injuries that sort of thing kicked in. As I stepped away for a bit I've managed to earn under 10 football team, which was a whole year experience or a couple of years. And then just by chance really got into running I saw a local half marathon near me was advertising in the papers and those days, and I entered didn't do a huge amount of training of it. But then found you know, I really enjoyed it a half reasonable time for considering I didn't really know what I was doing. And then kind of a little gap of about a year and then come back and revisited running again and got into some 10 ks and men I think notice more around 9697 Just loved a racing scene after the things that went with it and went on from there, really. 

Paul Laslett  2:45  
So what was it comes to enter. I've been running all my childhood adult life, but I've never considered entering a half marathon. So it was kind of inspired you or did you see what made you think, Oh, I could do a half marathon. I wasn't sure I could do a half marathon. I think what inspired pentagrams a minute long distance and I just thought word marathon appealed to me, I think and it's gonna be a challenge for me, I'm reasonably fit in terms of football and do an exercise in the past, but never anything just dedicated to running. So I think it was the fact it was a half marathon which kind of inspired me to go straight in at the deep end rather than saying shorter, obviously part from didn't exist around then. So yeah, it was that part? What kind of inspired me to give it a go really brilliant. So it's having that big goal to go write a 5k or a 10k? 

Gary Blackman  3:33  
Is I'm pretty sure I could do that a half marathon? I'm not sure I could do that. But I'd like to find out. Yeah, and I think around there like to say you didn't have the online and internet as much as what you did to find out stuff. So I wasn't even aware probably of what what else was out there. I think I just seen it advertised. It was fairly local to me. Let's give it a go. I probably didn't even realize it was other races have different distances, or could have maybe started a bit easier. But it was done. I'd obviously done a bit of running before and then just jumped in the deep end really. Then after that you say you took a bit of time away from racing or running and then you started doing like the 10 k's and stuff. What was the motivation to start doing that again? And then what kept you motivated? What kept you doing the events and kept got you into doing your training? I think for me, I'm pretty competitive with myself. So jumping back in, I think two years on or 18 months on from all it was kind of dabbled around around a bit found there was more local races and I think each one I went into I've done a lot of 10 ks around then realize even at my own level, I could get competitive with myself not with everybody else. But they started to come for me a little bit a bit too. And I found that something where it doesn't matter what anyone else does, is I can still recognize how I'm doing against my own kind of limitations that say I've never been a super runner compared to some runners out there have reached a hopefully a reasonable standard that was in the past now. So I always look at age grade now in terms of how I'm beating so that's another way obviously to keep stuff motivated in terms of as we get older, we can still compete against, you know, where we were just a good guideline. But yeah, and I think just the buzz of being around races and competitiveness and running that 100 and 22nd place in a race and trying to do some finish was met with my addiction and and how my thought process works a little bit. I just love the feel of it. And it has snowballed from one thing to another. And then obviously, we are still doing it 24 years on the

Paul Laslett  5:24  
ethos you have there. It's one of the reasons why I wanted to still queue and get you on the podcast really was it's the same ethos that that I've always worked to, and we work through with all our clients is, it's not about what anyone else is doing around you. It's about what you can do. And like you say, you come in in 100 and 22nd place, someone else coming in second place, someone else coming in 1000 and 22nd place is completely irrelevant, is just like you say, it's about what you can do. And it's really interesting looking at that and going, right, five years ago, I could run this fast for this distance, a bit older now. I need to reassess my targets and reassess my what maybe I'm able to do so I mean, as you kind of I don't want to say age, because that's rude. But as you got a bit older, like we all have, how have you found that you've had to alter your training that you do or haven't you? 

Gary Blackman  6:29  
Yeah, I think I'll be honest, I've never had any real structure in terms of what I've done. I've never had a coach, I've never gone down that route, although I want to consider in the future. But I think for me, just it's built that kind of base and done it I think when I was younger, and in the 30s or even late 20s, I think you could find that you could bounce back from no matter how much training you do. I felt like I could go out every day in day out bar injuries and survive. And probably like us, I didn't have any real background of knowing what was doing what was going wrong. But what what I found as a molder is that I can't do 50 Next year, no, if I tried to run every single day and push it every single day like I used to, I would fall to pieces even more than I probably have fallen to pieces I think I just need to realize my limitation. So a lot of cross training comes in now I've found other methods to enjoy it, you know, Bruce periods and that 20 years where I've moved away from running as well. I went into triathlon and done a bit of that my best running was when I was linked to triathlon. So I think I was giving some of my running muscles a bit of a rest, but also done indoor rowing, I've competed tournaments around the world, I went to World Championships, indoor rowing, believe it or not, is a sport. But I've always come back to running. I do like other sports, I like doing other things. But I've always come back to running from run, I run if I'm injured, that's fun, I do the other stuff, basically, 

Paul Laslett  7:50  
yeah. So get that recovery and the listening to your body. And that structure as you get a bit older becomes even more important, right? Because you'd be like you saved, knowing the intensity that you should be working at understanding if I do this run or this type of session, I know it's gonna take me a bit longer, it's gonna take me a bit longer to recover. I certainly Felix found that exactly the same like from going from being able to do 300 sessions a week to now like one, maybe two week and having to just run very slowly to make sure that the recoveries in there. So if we could give you a bit of a time machine, and you could go back in time to when you first started. You're kind of running journey. What would you knowing what you know, now after like, say, being able to run for so many years, and you've done a lot with erratic? What advice or what would you like to have done? What do you think you would have done differently now knowing what you know, now? 

Gary Blackman  8:52  
I think you need to listen to your body more. I think going back again, I've had numerous injuries and some quite bad injuries over time. But I think I need to listen to my body more. And there's times Hindsight is a wonderful thing and start getting a little niggle, and it knows right, it's gonna go away. And he continued pushing it consistently pushing it until the point where you just can't do anything. And then I've had some really long periods out due to doing that. And I think in hindsight, I wish I had someone to tell me to listen to your body, you only get one body, right? So used to look after it. And I think if I go back and listen to those moments where things were probably warning signs and warning lights are coming on and just adapt to that I probably would have achieved probably even more than I have. And you know, I had less long spells of being injured. I think for me, that's the thing I would do. I think also looking at probably being coached a little bit, maybe even a bit more structure plans would have been really good as well and it's still something I still consider now. I've been a member of running clubs sporadically. I'm not at the moment but the times when I have been tends to be when I've had better running some Running with people will run the same kind of speed as me as well. So there's loads, I can learn from it, even at 49. I kind of feel like, I'm still getting everything wrong. So you know, I'm not afraid to make mistakes or be in all of it. I just want to enjoy it. I think my mind enjoys it and thinks it can do a lot more than sometimes somebody thinks it can but doesn't stop me from trying.

Paul Laslett  10:21  
The thing that stands out me and Gary is thinking about having an I need this, I need a coach to tell me to like take your foot off the gas a little bit, have an easier day, you don't need to do the whole session on that today, just that extra, if I'm going to take a rest day or No, like I've got a little of a niggle at the moment that's come on this week. I'll message either Murray, I don't have a coach in the moment. But I'll message Maria or I'll put in our coaching group rest day to day, then I've got to stick to it just having that extra kind of bit of accountability, because you always think I'm gonna miss out if I don't take that rest day. Yeah, and you're my fitness is gonna fall off, or I'm gonna, I'm not gonna make the progress I want but like you said, ultimately, if you don't take the time out, it can kick you in the backside much harder later on. So yeah, the structure, the kind of listening to your body is really important. I like the idea of the warning lights. So if you've got a niggle or something goes wrong with your car and the light comes on, you get it sorted before, hopefully before then something right. And I guess you applying the same theory to the body is is really important, isn't it? Like? Well, that's something's not quite right there. I think I'm very good at ignoring warning lights, unfortunately. And like, I take more care of a car and I do have myself I think sometimes but yeah, I think it's important. I think, like I said, one for various injuries. And I think over time, I still haven't learned fully I think I still push them seven. And like you say is that fear of losing out and it's fear of missing the day, at the end of the day a week is far more, you know, easy to deal with. And then 678 weeks out, it's important that those rest days I know in my head, but it's not gonna make any difference. It's not going to do an event but also in my head, I still go ignore it to a certain extent, but I need to get better at it as I'm getting older. It's a tough discipline to learn, you know, it's okay to have an extra day off if your body needs if your body needs it. And in fact, long run like you say the long run, it's gonna long run a good one, that it's gonna gonna help it's gonna help you out and mean that you can hopefully not get that niggle doesn't become anything more more serious when you've done Ultras, right? 

Gary Blackman  12:34  
Yeah, I've tapped. I've done a couple of Ultras in the past, but this year, especially at the start of the year, just after races start coming back out of lockdown. I wanted to get more into Ultra so I've always seen Ultra done, what 40 Odd marathons or so but not many Ultras and so casually, just ish marathons. So you know, it's over 20 odd years to a year, which is normal. That's how I say it. But yeah, I've never dabbled into but I think it's very keen on listening to a lot of American podcasts and watching YouTube and seeing things and I've learned quite quickly that the ultra scene is a great scene because you're encouraged to walk a lot. So that's that's, that suits my age. It's my end. It's a bit less competitive and American. I think from American perspective, you always feel you got to race it to a certain extent or it's a set distance or a soldier you can run you can stop at the stations, you can chat, you can be social. I like that. And especially as I'm getting older, I'm more inclined to enjoy running rather than pizza running. That makes sense. So yeah, this year I was carrying an injury funnily enough by them for races in in six weeks starting off at half marathon to then go up to a 50 miler and then finish off with a marathon and the 50k within six weeks and then that was I've injured surprisingly but but it was an injury prior to that but it was also the extra stress of it. We've done it but I loved it and I think as soon as I can get back on topic focus more on ultrasound and and gas really it always we've got a few clients who've had it done like 100 milers and stuff and like 50s and stuff. 

Paul Laslett  14:07  
It's so far removed from my life make the I struggle to get out and run for an hour because I'm sure I love my runny. But it feels like a long time. Is this something you just get used to when you're out for a longer period of time? And how do you deal with that? If I had it put me anywhere I can pull it is I had a choice between doing a five ganda and a marathon. I choose a macro

Gary Blackman  14:30  
Yeah, yeah, I think the five K's a nasty distance and probably for you a pupil that's probably still a long distance. But for me, it's like a short one. But from that feeling of feeling sick and feeling you push yourself and your legs going to jelly. It's kind of like I prefer to go longer. And it was obviously still from a mindset perspective in your body, but it's a totally different feeling. And I enjoy that and the facts. I feel I can do and in my head. I feel I can do a lot more than I actually do. But I see these crazy things. But Joe, I'd like to have a crack at that because it's more than what the average person could do you know, anyone who puts their mind to do a five day regardless of the speed and account all runners in that as being important, you covering the same distance, right? And that's at any distance. But you know, I think sometimes as you go further and further, I just want to push yourself to the point where, well, other people may not be able to do that, or want to do it and various kinds of longer Ultra isn't so many different things popping up at the moment, it seems a brilliant time to be living and running longer distance, but it definitely wants I want to go that direction. Really, as much as I like the challenge of a five day I think it's horrible. 

Paul Laslett  15:36  
Eight can be Yeah, it can be brutal, because you're on your you're on your max limit. Whereas if you do a long lever, marason and Ultra, I'm guessing because I've never done one. But from what I'm what I've been told you, if you go obviously, if you go over that red line, you're in trouble, the intensity has to be quite a lot lower so that you can maintain that for obviously a longer period of times it must become a lot more about the mind games and dealing on the subject mind games and working your way through things. I know obviously you had to have your hip resurfacing. 

Gary Blackman  16:16  
Yeah, so I have a hip resurfacing trying to make about seven or eight years ago now. So either a label tear her skin an awful pain in the groin area all the time and eventually saw a surgeon who he was doing this new kind of procedure of hips I've seen so basically keyhole surgery go in but effectively it's like breaking your pelvis is what he described as he said it's almost all your body weight con goes through but and it basically shaved a bit of a hip joint and really smoothed it all over and resurfaced it and again that was the decision then it was either no continue and deal with the pain but you probably won't really be able to run it was that painful but walking and everything was alright or go down the surgical route and give it a chance and there was probably I can't remember what percentages were but 60 65% of getting back to running but to be fair since then it kept me out for eight months because it your whole body needs to recover from it but once I've got back I've had no issues from there was a fear he said that the left side is getting nowhere and tears well but no touch word at the moment it's both sides have been really good it is a decision it's hard because that's a long time out running the thing you know their run for seven or eight months but then my head is compare that with not running at all ever again it was an easy decision right and I've gone through several surgeries on things my current one with ankle ligaments which is caused when I went over you know about two years ago really now and it's all my deltoid ligament offer my right ankle which is quite rare and I've survived last 18 months doing these these long races but with with a bit of pain to the point in the end I could hardly walk on it and surgeon and Adele torn ligaments ripped off and unfortunately the lateral one which is the other one supports it and allows you to at least still run also ruptured so I've had surgery on both sides of ankle where I'm recovering now 

Paul Laslett  18:04  
pain that like fair play because it's that's when I've only had to have hernia surgery on anything have been had injuries before but I've never been in a situation where it's been right you've got to go under the knife or you're not able to run a tree sure I know what I would decide to do but I mean I think that just shows how important running is to you the or you can have a normal life you can do whatever you like you can cycle you can play other sport, you can do various other things. But you can't run you're like wow, get me into some surgery because I want to be able to run and I love that mindset of alright it's eight months out. So I mean eight months you think about eight months is a lot a long, long time. But when you think what about the rest of my life, it's a small percentage of time to give up. So be able to do some that you still love to do and with the ankle surgery as well. They just it was a similar thing right? They you didn't have to didn't have to have it done but you had that choice.

Gary Blackman  19:04  
Yeah and I think yeah, especially thinking back to the label chair and hip surgery is it made a choice easier in a way because again he was like you can manage that if you want to have that chance of running again percentage wise is 85 90% that most of it will be back to normal without that was better odds than it was for the for the hit. You're right for me running is everything that I think the mental part of it and getting out is I'm probably a little bit my wife I probably sound a little bit grumpy if I don't get for a run or don't get that kind of time to have a bit of exercise. So we're not commuting to London obviously I'm based luckily at the moment but when I commute to London at lunchtime run was great to get away from the pressures of work and for 45 minutes and do it and I've made so many friends through running my life is my outside life I would say probably 85% of my personal life is linked to running likes to urbane and my wife to a certain extent but I love it that much but it was an easy decision to make and surgery and being in boot for last seven cuz I have it's went yesterday, kind of Bobby yeah for Bobby's gone thrown out the house. So started physio today, he's given me quite an aggressive kind of free sessions a day to get back because he knows how keen I am to run and really look forward to getting inspired. And hopefully, within six weeks or so they'll get me back rounding and when I look at is a basket be a free month period three to four month period out if that's going to allow me to in my head to run for another 20 years, when you look at that as a small percentage, it is a small percentage and most of the lessons on here for you never have to go through that sort of injury or have to even think of dealing that. But if you do a lot of people, we get a lot of nice comments on Instagram, as I'm on there. And I get better. It's really sad in a way. Yeah, it is. But in the whole scheme of things, it's not a huge thing for me, because I know I'm gonna get back there. And like that I really like that positive mindset around it. 

Paul Laslett  20:51  
So I could talk all day about anything to do with running, but I'm conscious of your time as well on here. But I want to ask you, so obviously, you've had some decisions to make to go right. Do I keep going with with normal life and not run? Or do I have my surgery and that means that I can run like say running is 85% of your life. So what I want to do on a fire some questions that you get to see what you would also be prepared to do to give up or if you could only do certain things at a certain time to run. So I'm going to try and see if I can find something that might make you say no. So I started you could only run at four o'clock in the morning. Would you still run? Yes. I've watched too many US Ultra podcasts and things to savor. The norm in America seems to be getting up at three or four in the morning through long run. So I'd like to do that. Okay. And what is there any food that you don't like? Avocado? I can't stand? Okay, so if you see an avocado every day, would you still would you tap out to go and rice?

Gary Blackman  21:57  
Yeah, I'll probably tough out. Probably Homer knows. Well, like a small child would do. Yeah. Okay. Could never take a holiday again. Oh, that's a tough one. I think for me, I'd be okay with it. I think

Gary Blackman  22:18  
I'll probably end up in divorce. But I think it's my own choice. And that's why I'm a little boy. That's my own choice. I would still take running but running could be my holiday. It's fine. I can go somewhere and take a week running. I don't know loads of trails somewhere. So that would be my holiday. Awesome. What if you have sleep and every hour, that will submit it it doesn't have point effects for your wife or your boy. But every hour an alarm goes off, baby on the hour every hour. When you're in bed. You get five days away, you can have two nights off. Now funnily enough, you said I've already written down in my list for when I'm fit I'm ready to do before by four by four check. David Goggins chatter introduced four miles every four hours and I've even research that kind of challenges similar to that to what could do my head is already fixed. I'm already running and I'm doing it so yeah, well, I feel like I might fit into it. I might be a might be a good thing to try. Paul. 

Paul Laslett  23:21  
You training? 

Gary Blackman  23:22  
I try for a week once I'm getting ready. I'll let you know 

Paul Laslett  23:25  
Craig surely answers gonna be yes. In the winter, when it's cold. And we'll get we'll we'll have to we'll wrap up need to run. If during the winter months, you could only go and run in speedos. And in summer months, you had to wear your winter clothes to run. Would you do that? Again, I think I'll give it a go. But whatever I could actually keep going in speedos in the middle of winter. I don't know my body would allow me I think my mind would want to but maybe I might have to drop it off. Pretty good. I like that. That's great. I love it. Let's that commitment. Right there is is a is commitment. And Marie, you had a few questions. Maybe a few more sensible. Shockwaves.

Marie Droniou-Bordry  24:09  
Yes, I've got a couple of questions. I love your story, Gary and I love I can relate to a lot of it apart from the avocado bit because I love that five minute you started your running journey with a half my iPhone, I think it's brilliant because majority of the people will start with a capture five gay and then move on to longer distances. So that I think that's brilliant. But coming back to your injury. How do you cope with the being off running? And what kind of advice would you give to someone who's injured? What can What would you say to them You? You need to focus on what you enjoy just to cope with being off running for however long.

Gary Blackman  24:47  
I think it's important and as I said before, I think my running sometimes takes over a bit too much in my life and it encroaches on the family time. There's always pros and cons about India. I think one thing in this period obviously I've been lucky enough to work at home and I've had Six weeks at home and I'm working at home prior to the injury is I'm upstairs in the bedroom working and I only get limited time with a family what has been with with the boats, obviously, I've been off work and surgery and I've had some fantastic time with my child. He's only coming up to three years old and more time quality time my wife really I think, you know, there's parts that I don't get when I'm working full time and running takes a big chunk of your personal time. So actually being injured does actually give me an opportunity to explore that a little bit. But for me, it there's always things for running. I've like I said, I've listened to more podcasts than ever before. I've watched more YouTube videos never before, but it's important sometimes just to take that break and realize that there's other parts of life around you and take your time to realize and understand that as well.

Marie Droniou-Bordry  25:46  
Yeah, and focus on what you can do as opposed to one Yeah, yeah. And you've done a few races. What was your favorite race?

Gary Blackman  25:55  
Oh, you think the whole list here? I think I think for you know, I've done quite a few marathons. I think London marathon for me as a road marathon stands out. Absolutely fantastic. But I think if I could do that every year, I'm obviously not quick enough to get in there every year. So you have to survive in a ballot, which is almost impossible these days. I've done London seven times in the past. And I think it's just such an amazing experience and seeing it a couple of weeks ago and seeing crowds coming out after not being able to do it for last 18 months is incredible. So for me, that's my most favorite race. I think any anything I feel I've done pretty quick in I've got a really abnormality, when you look at my times on Instagram is that my 5k? Time is 1859 which actually slower pace and my 10k which is 37 odd minutes, which is really weird. And people do question about that. I assure you your time is wrong. But my 10k was on 20 years ago and I was running quickly and park run didn't exist. And now I can't get any work. Done for 10k Welcome five. So I do like the challenge of a pride day. And I still feel I can get that time down Ferber as well as my marathon as well. But yeah, London Marathon if I had to pick one would be it.

Marie Droniou-Bordry  27:01  
Yeah, and I can relate to that. London. I only did it once. But that was one of the best days of my life. I thought he was absolutely amazing.

Gary Blackman  27:10  
Yeah, I want to move away from a road racing and road marathons. I'm not so keen on them as a whole. But that would be the only one would stay Makanda if I was someone who could give me a place every year on the map, and then once this thing then great.

Marie Droniou-Bordry  27:24  
I can give you that place then. All right. And one last question in terms of your training, what type of run? What's your favorite run? tempo run?

Gary Blackman  27:36  
Yeah, most most of it if you don't like the benefit of most coaching, so most my running is one pace. I think I realized the value of stay work my times and I have done speed work I do improve. So I know getting a coach will help me that but I think easy pace. I'm lucky enough to be five miles from South Downs here. So hence why I'm getting more into a trail running. I love getting up on the downs and just running up down the hills. So yeah, off road. easy pace. Enjoy a couple of hours out there. Absolutely. Fantastic.

Marie Droniou-Bordry  28:05  
Thank you.

Paul Laslett  28:06  
Thank you, Gary, this has been a really, really enjoyable podcast one of our longer ones, which is fine because we believe in so much we'd able to talk about I think I really hope the listeners from this podcast understand the importance of listening to your body being positive when you're injured and actually realizing that injury is actually in the grand scheme of things. It's such a short space of time and find the things that you love doing and do more of it. Basically that's it people want to follow you or find you on Instagram Gary, where do they need to go? So Instagram GB underscore runner 21 and 21 or 2020? Well, it's like a very big my own password but that changes every year obviously as long as no one naps it the year changes each time. I think I have been confused or invited to his little side story but I got invited to Poland in Warsaw of America and by the tourists born I actually think because I was GB underscore runner that they felt I was a GB runner rather than my initials. But anyway, but my times are on there so it wasn't cheap in them. But yeah, GB underscore runner 2021 And then 2022 months once a year changes. Yeah, so go follow Gary's got some great posts and inspiration on on his Instagram and that thanks again for being I really appreciate it. And we'll see everyone on the next episode. Right Thank you for having me. Thank you for listening to loving every stride. If like us you absolutely love running. We'd love to have you in our community and help make your running faster. You can join our Facebook group and get your very own running faster formula by visiting the link in the show notes and there will be happy days ahead. Please also remember to subscribe and review so we can spread our love for running. Thank you for listening and we will see you on the bright side.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai