Guest blog post – BellesWheels

I’ve explored lots of Blogs which share my passion for exercise, travel, healthy food…. and when I came across BellesWheels, a Blog which has all of these, plus whose author has a disability – well!  I had to subscribe to it.

The thing I loved straight away was the very positive nature of the posts.  Every post really oozes energy, vitality and positivity.

I contacted Annabelle, the Blog’s editor and asked whether she’d be prepared to assist me in writing a Guest Blog – in return I’d write one for her.

So today, my guest post will be published on her Blog and hers here.

Tell me a little about yourself?

My name is Annabelle, I live with my hubby and fur babies in a village in Buckinghamshire.

I fell ill with a rare illness called NMO in 2007, this left me visually impaired and paralysed. Since then I have been on my healing journey and have experienced great transformation over the years in all aspects of my life.

I wanted to use my journey to help others and that’s why I have become a Coach and Energy Therapist.

Life-coaching is something that I’m really interested in – can you explain what it is and how it works?

I have used many forms of coaching on my own healing journey and want to help others do the same.

With coaching I want to support those that have experienced dramatic life change through illness, toxic relationships, self doubt to find who they are, support them on their healing journey to great health and wellbeing spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally.

Coaching can support the journey from where people are now to where they want yo be, opening their world to all opportunities & achieving their goals and drams, for a happier more fulfilled life.

What inspired you to start your Blog?

I like a chat and have a lot to say!!

I wanted to show others that anything is possible, even when life has changed and can be challenging.

If my blog helps just one person then I know I’m doing the right thing.

I just want and hope it makes people smile.

Who are your audience?

I have a range of people from other people with rare illness, others with spinal cord injury and in wheelchairs through to those who like to eat and travel.

It’s about enjoying life as much as possible.

I see that we appear to have a lot in common – a love of food, travel and well being!  Tell me about your favourite travel destination / food.

Oh goodness there are just so many.

Europe – I just LOVE Italy, it’s so beautiful, the people are so welcoming and the food is amazing. Sorrento is one of my favourite places, not necessarily that wheelchair friendly but when there’s good food, great people and wine to be drunk – I’m there!!

My husband and I love Australia, especially Sydney. I just love the contrast of being in the big city then a few minutes later you can be by the beach. Over the past few years it has turned into a real foodies Mecca.

Another wonderful place was Hawaii, the sea, the sun, just everything about this place made me smile.  Accessible, great food, it was such a wonderful experience.

Oh – and not forgetting South Africa. We went on safari which was out of this world. Cape Town and Franschhoek and if you like food and wine like me it’s THE place to go. But beware you will come home heavier than you went.

Seriously my list could go on…. but we base our travels around food and places to eat!!

The hubby and I just love to travel and experience new and wonderful places.

How are you managing with the whole Covid-19 situation where you live?

It’s been a strange old time for everyone.

I’ve been pretty good for the most part to be honest, enjoying this wonderful weather in the UK, exercising, meditating, making the most of some me time and looking after myself and my health.

There have been some down days, where the worry or fear creeps in, but through all the work I have done on myself over the years I have a lot of tools to help get me back on track.

As said it’s a strange time but I have aimed to look at it as being given the gift of time to look after ourselves.

 

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Annabelle, BellesWheels

 

Guest Blog Post – Dr Richard Howey, Virtual Treadmill Runs

I got to speak to the man himself one Saturday morning during lockdown.

Thank you for giving up part of your Saturday morning to speak to me!  What would you normally be doing on a Saturday morning?   Not much during lockdown!

So I’m not going to ask you about running and performance, as that’s not my speciality.

My own Blog (this Blog) started as an idea to enthuse myself whilst trying to lose weight and get fitter.  Over the 8 years of my journey, my mobility has gone from nothing to what it is now.  I don’t have proper hips, so it’s pretty amazing that I’m able to walk at all.  I have two sisters, both of whom are very active.  I started my journey when I was 49 and have achieved something I wasn’t initially aiming for.  I’m seen a huge increase in my confidence in my ability to walk and improved independence – which is especially important because of my disability. 

Following a bad head on car crash in France, I sustained leg injuries which meant that my already limited mobility was reduced further.  So in 2013 I went gradually from virtually no activity – to swimming once a week – to moving a bit more – to finding a personal trainer to work with me and between us we came up with some ideas for suitable exercise. 

 As my fitness and mobility have improved, I began incorporating sessions on an anti-gravity treadmill – the Alter-G, which is used to rehabilitate people who have  had hip and knee replacements, stroke and other injuries.  The treadmill enables them to maintain and regain their fitness.  It works by supporting a percentage of ones body weight.  So for the first time in my life I was able to experience running.  And more recently I’ve been “running” alongside some of your virtual treadmill runs.  By that I mean vigorously bouncing and swinging my arms whilst seated on a fit ball for about an hour each day. 

How should I refer to you? Richard is fine.  Ah, not “The Doctor” then?

Where in the country are you?  You might have guessed from the films that I live in Morpeth.

My husband’s childhood home was in Northumberland and he recognises many of the places that you run – they’ve provided him with some happy childhood memories.

When did you take up running?  2012.  Oh – that’s around the same time as I started my journey!

Do you run on a regular basis?  Yes, I’ve run pretty regularly since 2012, but had to take a break of a year or more when I injured my foot.

What gave you the idea of filming your runs?  I’ve been asked this before and I’m not sure to be honest.  I guess it was to provide some sort of record so that I can look back at them and see what I was capable of.

The way you film is very much filmed for an audience and to make them an enjoyable experience.  I do try and film for an audience and try to keep my head still – that’s sometimes difficult when I’m a bit tired.

So making your films into virtual treadmill runs – a great idea – how did you come up with it?  So I had the idea for turning my runs into virtual treadmill runs and I figured that someone would already have tried to do this (and they had).

I’m very impressed with the quality as they are nice and steady and not too wobbly.  The first one I became aware of was your Dublin run – which I enjoyed as I’ve been to Dublin a couple of times.

What camera do you use?  It’s a GoPro 7 which I wear attached to my forehead with a strap. I initially had a really cheap one at the start but up-grading to the GoPro has given me built in camera stability which makes it far steadier.

So now that all important question – how tall are you?  I’m 6ft 2.  Wow, that’s a height I can only ever dream of!  I think I give the impression of being taller as the camera is located above my eye line.

Your height provides an excellent view, as looking over peoples head rather than at the back of heads.  Better view than I get from my height (4ft 8”) – people’s backsides and armpits.

You do appear to have the constant ability to take in the nice viewpoints for the sake of your viewers.  I appreciate that as I am enjoying the visual side of it.  Yes, I try to take In some views along the way.  Some people have complained about that, saying it unbalances them on the treadmill.

The Sunset Cliff in the US was a bit scary – you were getting quite close to the cliff edge at times!  It probably wasn’t as close as it appeared on the film.

Over how many days did you film Hadrian’s Wall Trail? – 12 days, as I tried to pick days that were sunny.  I noticed one very wet day with lots of puddles?  Yes, that was getting late in the year and I was running out of days.

I love seeing other people that you come across during your runs – for example, the school party straggling up the stairs on part of the Hadrian’s Wall who had to  move aside to let you race past.

How do you describe you running – fell running, distance running, steeple chasing  (or is that horses??) Yes, I think steeple chasing is for horses!

You don’t stick to tarmac or level runs.  I like the way it’s a bit of a mix, so some fun runs, some races, runs on beaches and along rivers, through woods and in sunshine and snow even.  I don’t really describe it as any particular style but I do enjoy a variety of terrains.

You seem quite nimble and have amazing stamina.  I loved the part where you were running through the forest at Kielder – the second part, where you burst out of the toilet door!  Yes, I was half way through the race – needs must!

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Welcome sight – refreshment stop and break, Kielder Half Marathon

How importantly does running feature in your life?  It’s pretty important, it’s my main hobby alongside putting the videos together afterwards.

How had lockdown affected your running?  I’ve only been able to run locally and all places I’ve run before.  I’ve missed out on a couple of opportunities to run abroad.  I’ve missed opportunities to run in Switzerland alongside Lake Geneva and I had a trip coming up to South Korea.  That isn’t going to happen.

Do you run when you go abroad for work or do you travel to run?  I’m lucky – I travel for work.  So I incorporate some of my runs whilst I am away.

Your runs in Germany – I’m fascinated that you seem to find these grassy trails that go a bit off the beaten track.  Do you get lost often?  Yes, I have got lost a few times.  Thank goodness for mobile phones!   I don’t take a mobile phone with me.  I tend to research my route beforehand, try and plan it on a map and memorise it.

That must have been difficult on the Hadrian’s Wall path – there are signs, but they’re not always that obvious?  I did take a couple of wrong turnings along the way.  On one part of the Hadrian’s Wall path – there is a public footpath which runs parallel to the pathway which I accidentally took.  I re-joined the Hadrian’s Wall path and realised I’d taken the wrong route.  I went back and re-filmed that section

How competitive are you?  I’m not really competitive.  But you always seem to be somewhere near the front in races?  I deliberately start at the back and start off slowly and speed up later on – it helps to make me appear faster than I am!

On the Cragside Trail film, a few competitors steam pass you at the end really going for it.  Yes!  There is a steep decline before the finish and I was saving my knees for that.  I didn’t realise the finish line was so imminent, as it is a 10 mile race and my watch was telling me I’d reached nine and a half miles.  So I reached the end half a mile before I expected to!

How did you start off running?  I just built up my fitness and stamina gradually.

What’s the furthest you’ve run?  A half marathon.  I’ve not done a full marathon.

Is that on your list of things to do?  No, not really because of the injuries I’ve sustained.  I’d rather play safe to will stick with the half marathons.

Have you ever injured yourself running?  I injured my foot, but not sure I did it running.  I could barely walk, let alone run and that put me out of action for almost a year.  Something went I my foot when I was walking and it took a long time to recover from that.  I’m just happy that I’m able to run at all – so I’m not really competitive.  I don’t want to push myself and injure myself again.  I’m happy to take things a bit more slowly now.

I loved your Prague film and the fact you visited parts of the old town – it enabled me to see parts of Prague that I didn’t get to see when we were there.  It was lovely to see parts that aren’t the usual touristy places and that would have been inaccessible to me as a wheelchair user.

You’ve not got an aim to stop when you reach 500 videos or something?  No, I’ll still enjoy making the films as long as I’m able to.

Once again, thank you for allowing me to enjoy your films.  I probably don’t use them in the way that most viewers do.  I mentioned what I am doing to others – both disabled and non disabled folk, who have really appreciated them.  It’s enabled me to enjoy a little trip out of the house each day.  You’ve also inspired me to come and visit the north east of England at some point in the future to see for myself those lovely beaches and countryside. 

To enjoy Richard Howey’s virtual treadmill runs, visit his YouTube channel

Virtual treadmill running with Dr Howey

Soon into lockdown, I was looking to find ways to vary my exercise regime.  A regular session for me is about 30 minutes of various stretches for my spine, neck and shoulders, followed by vigorous bouncing on a gym ball whilst swinging my arms about wildly to increase my heart rate.  Usually during this latter part of the exercise session, I am listening to music and keeping an eye on my heart rate and my target (specific number of steps).  But this becomes rather tedious day in, day out.

I happened upon a “virtual treadmill run” around Dublin, a city I’ve visited a number of times.  The video was produced by Dr Howey (Richard) who has a whole series of running films lasting about an hour.  Pretty soon I was hooked!

Dr Howey’s runs have transported me to some stunningly beautiful places.  Many of these are around the North East where he lives – somewhere I’m not familiar with.  Along lengthy sandy beaches (Druridge Bay), the length of Hadrian’s Wall trail, Simonside Hills Trail.  Exploring the towns of Morpeth and Alnwick – along rivers and through woodland.

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Stunning Druridge Bay

I finish my exercise feeling as though I have been momentarily transported to these lovely places – running through fields of oil seed rape and amongst sheep and cows.

Richard has also run in Europe – Germany, Sorrento, Prague.  Prague was one of my favourite “runs”.  This is also a city I’ve visited, but as a wheelchair user, the cobbled streets were quite a challenge.  Dr Howey’s run took me through the old town; this was an area we didn’t get to explore much because it is pretty inaccessible with lots of steps.  I loved the feeling of running up a lengthy flight of stairs and actually found myself speeding up and getting more out of breath!

Somewhere I enjoyed but definitely not a place to visit as a wheelchair user was Pompeii!  Not very accessible at all, but I enjoyed the trip there.

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Pompeii, interesting but inaccessible in a wheelchair

I have also competed in a number of races and fun runs – this is a completely new experience for me and not something I’m likely to participate in in the “real world”.  I love seeing the other runners and I get that feeling of elation as I reach the finish line.  I’ve done it!

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5K Parkrun Whitley Bay

These wonderful films have really brightened up my lockdown exercise experience.  I felt I had to contact Dr Howey and let him know just how valuable his films had become to me.  Plus I needed to find out how tall he was – this man seemed to be a giant!

In my next Blog post, I asked Richard to be a guest on my Blog – check back soon to find out more about his journey and our conversation around virtual treadmill running.