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  • Writer's pictureMental Health Runner

Let the planning commence! Pennine Run (Week 1)

I want to make one thing very clear from the start. - I have NO idea what im doing.

No... Really.

The whole journey although is something I cannot wait to be ready for and even start. Currently the whole idea of it fills me with a bitter sweet excitement fueled by the sheer trepidation of traveling just 270 miles of prime British natural wonder and beauty.

If there is anything I have learned about anxiety is it can stop us in our tracks or we can use it in some backwards kind of way as a fuel to learn and even destroy that anxiety - I feel the latter is going to be a driver if not catalyst of how this whole planning, adaption and execution of the entire challenge.

So how to conquer this? - Just like everything else, take one thing at a time.

Part 1: Maps and Itinerary (Yeah ill need these).

Put aside the bullying, assaults and daily torment; something i learned in primary school is how to collect things - Pokemon cards non the less, but still collecting things; and then learning what I needed to do next to move forward "And become the ultimate Pokemon master (I can't believe I just said that at the age of 29 and in 2020).

It's taken some research, a LOT of time on google maps and also cross referencing with the Ordnance survey website and I've finally "collected them all", all 9 maps ill need in order to complete this behemoth of a challenge.

OL16 - Cheviot Hills

OL42 - Kielder Water & Forest

OL43 - Hadrian's Wall

OL31 - North Pennines

OL19 - Howgill Fells& Upper Eden Valley

OL21 - South Pennines

OL2 - Yorkshire Dales (Southern & Western Areas)

OL30 - Yorkshire Dales (Northern & Central Areas)

OL1 - The Peak District (Dark Peak Areas)

Now, the order in which I need to use these in - that is still up for debate and something I won't really get until I've gone through every single one. Currently I'm three maps in and up to day 4 of my itinerary so the map list above is in order.


With all the research I have done, I've found numerous itinerary's ranging from 12 days (Out of the question) to around 20 days; so with these I've made my own. Its less of plan and more of a "Brain Fart", but its something and we all have to start from somewhere.

With these points, I've taken hostels as the point of reference, but like I said I'm now up to day 4 (Leg 4 in the above picture) so these are pretty much set in stone until I show Dad the Grid References as see what he says - Pretty fortunate I've got dad to help with that. After all he did also give me a crash course in grid referencing a few days ago. Fingers crossed I've got them right and the point of camping are good.

I've not included littlebrough as a stop yet because I'm not that far ahead, one thing at a time and Ill get there when i get there in the planning.

So that's it for the planning state. There is obviously a load of kit I have got to get hold of and some which has already arrived, but that's for another blog post another time.

At the end of Day 3 I'll be staying somewhere in Greenhead along Hadrians wall. As I was finding the grid reference for my camp for the night I caught myself shifting focus, tiredness was kicking in and almost like a fatigue was falling over me - I stopped and just studied the hand which was holding the compass. The scars of a darker time, rich in history of psychosis and mental ill health.

Just like that, I knew what I had to do:

For one; stop - This is supposed to be enjoyable, I'm not going to let it be one of those mundane tasks and fill me with boredom. But most importantly - Those scars reminded me not of the horrific time, but the reason I am doing this. I'm doing this not because it is easy, but because it is hard. Quite frankly, so is mental ill health. but like all those years ago when I met those amazing people who have done incredible things with their lives along with their mental illnesses - I want you, the reader and the world to see that it will never be a hindrance; never be something which will limit you but something which can help fuel you and drive - No, Launch into great things.

To adapt a speech by President Kennedy:

"Its not what the community can do for you and your mental health, Its what your mental health can do for you and your community."

Part Two: Training

Mark Larwood (@RunYourMarks) Took me out for my first training session on Lincoln common last Friday. within the short time of being with him my technique running up hills has changed dramatically. Obviously its now about the drills and practice but its simply incredible how much of a difference has been made.

Learned all about posture and correct form while traveling up hill which, as I'm sure you'll understand needs to be fully understood given ill be doing it on a daily basis for over two weeks! Its also built up my trust in my body too - I've avoided trails like the plague after ripping the tendons in my ankle years ago, but to have that practice on uneven land is definitely a confidence booster. Next week its doing down hill something which again - paramount if this challenge is ever going to be a success!

Thats the power of running really in a nut shell - how it can help build you up and instill confidence into a shell of the person I once was, its why I love it and if your reading this as a first time runner - Just know your in an amazing community and we all have each others backs. Enjoy the transformation of body and soul, and be ready to #RunHappy

So that's week one! 355 days to go until the big day where I start my trek! Next week will include my kit - further planning and map reading and also some training too! Stay Strong, Stay Safe MentalHealthRunner.

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