Jo’s Journey – That’s a Wrap

Week 9

2nd – 8th March

I have never written this sentence as much as I have in the last week – we find ourselves in unprecedented times! I don’t know if you feel like me; you’re in your house watching the news and you are concerned; you go outside the front door and it all seems normal – what is the fuss all about? Then you pop to work and there is no one there; you go to the supermarket and the shelves are bare and you talk to friends, family and colleagues and it’s all you talk about – Covid-19!

It would seem that we are in a war zone with no army, tanks or planes flying over ahead, just a silent virus that is attacking the world as we know it! And it has attacked my life, albeit at the moment I am showing no signs of the virus, but my boyfriend works on the front line as an NHS staff member. I am obviously concerned and proud of him and as you know I have been training for the London Marathon with a team from the Paul Popham Running Club.

Last week would have been week ten in our training schedule. With only 6 more weeks to go, all our races started to be cancelled. Paul Smith’s Rome Marathon was the first to hit, followed by London, then Newport and finally the Great Welsh Marathon. 

We all completed week nine successfully with the gloom of the virus hovering over our heads. I had completed a circuits class on the Monday, then ran 12.65 miles quite warily on the Tuesday, dragging Liv, Julie and Mark down with me although they all lifted my spirits. That’s what our team has done over the last ten weeks; kept each other motivated.

I went to club training on the Wednesday and supported one of our club groups by videoing their efforts on hill repeats. It was so nice to be out with the members who I very rarely see at club!

On Thursday I did a home circuit and on Friday I did my last 16 mile run solo as I was planning on a boozy girls weekend at the Bluestone Resort with the girls! I created a 16-mile route that started off with the first six miles along a route I liked and was used to.

My thoughts were that the first few miles had to be something I was familiar with, otherwise I would be in danger of quitting. I successfully pushed myself through the six miles to the start of the next eight through some beautiful scenery of Fleindre and Lliw Valley Damn. The rain was holding off and the road, despite being hilly, was quiet and dare I say enjoyable.

I realised on this journey that while I run the marathon, a dialysis patient will be hooking themselves up to a machine for a similar amount of time to keep themselves alive and they have to do that, depending on treatments, three to six times a week. I have to do it once and my life doesn’t depend on it. It kept me going knowing that every step I take will raise money to help patients thrive and survive!

I came out of the scenic route and emerged into familiar territory, passing Morriston Hospital, Trwyddfa Road and then I was home! That was me done, now to get ready to go to Bluestone!

My mate Caroline and sister had promised to run with me while we were there, but I forgot my trainers! Nevertheless, we had such a laugh catching up and it was the tonic I needed, as well as a full body massage that ended with my feet being massaged! Well, after this I felt like a different person!

As I approached the final week of training, I was starting to think that the marathon would be cancelled and was finding it difficult to motivate myself to run.

When we found out that the London Marathon had been postponed, we all agreed to run one last run together. Despite not feeling well, I joined the team and left them at mile 7.5 while they ran the extra 10 miles for a post-run and team lunch! I was off to my boyfriend’s mother and father’s birthday lunch followed by a takeaway with my family for my mother’s birthday – the perfect ending to the end of my London Marathon training!

It may be over now but we will be back. The event is postponed until October and I will be ticking the legs over during this unprecedented time until June/July to start the training yet again!

Thank you all for sticking by me during this journey, your support has meant the world.

Until next time!

Jo.

COVID-19: An Open Letter to Patients & Families

Dear Patients, Carers and Families,

It is fair to say that as a renal community we find ourselves in unchartered waters. The growing concerns regarding COVID-19 and the categorisation of CKD within the high-risk group, has led to the unprecedented decision by Public Health England/Wales to recommend that all patients with CKD stringently follow social distancing measures to shield themselves from the wide-spread public infection.

These measures, together with regular media coverage, can understandably contribute to concern, fear, uncertainty and anxiousness. Moreover, the forthcoming period of isolation is likely to contribute to feelings of loneliness and disconnection. As an organisation, we would like to assure you that our support services remain active and that we continue to provide emotional support, information and advice to all renal patients and their families. Whilst we have taken steps to modify the delivery of our services in order to protect the health and safety of our patients, volunteers and staff, the availability of our core services remain unchanged. We are also actively taking steps to increase our services to meet the growing needs of all renal patients and their families. Throughout this, our aim is to do our best to continue our mission of Putting Patients First and helping everyone with CKD to Believe in Themselves.

 If you feel worried, anxious or alone – we are here to help!

Peer-to-Peer Support – our Peer Mentors are a team of renal patients, carers and family members who have been trained to provide emotional support, information and advice. Patients, carers and families can access this service for an informal chat with someone who understands their concerns and who is able to provide support during this difficult time.

Please note – to ensure the safety of all patients and volunteers, until further notice this support will be delivered remotely via telephone, video calling or email.

Counselling – our counselling service is available to all patients, carers or family members. Our counsellor is also a renal patient undergoing social distancing, and so understands the complexities of CKD and the difficulties faced during this worrying time. Our counsellor can help you discuss and explore your concerns and manage your anxiety. We can also provide relaxation techniques and coping strategies to assist you throughout your period of isolation and beyond.

Please note – to ensure the safety of all patients, until further notice counselling sessions will take place remotely via telephone, video calling or email.

 Careline – our dedicated careline is available to anyone affected by CKD, as well as carers and family members. We can answer any questions or queries and provide information and advice on a range of topics. We can also put you in touch with our Peer Mentor and Counselling services, as well as provide useful contacts and signposting to other organisations who provide support for specific issues. This service is also available for anyone feeling lonely who would like a chat during this difficult time.

What else are we doing? – we are continuously seeking to develop and expand our service to meet the needs of all patients, carers and family members. Whilst our face-to-face support groups, such as ‘Kidney Cafes’, ‘Transplant Cafe’ and ‘Parents & Carers Group’ have suspended meetings until further notice, we are working to set up online groups to ensure all attendees have access to ongoing support. Details of these online groups will be posted to our website and social media accounts as they develop. We also welcome input from patients, carers and family members, and encourage you to inform us of the services you would like to see developed. Whilst we cannot safely assist with practical tasks such as shopping, we are keen to ensure that all renal patients and their families are supported during this difficult time.

If you would like to access any of the above services, or have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to get in touch via support@paulpophamfund.co.uk or by calling our Careline on 0800 038 8989

 Best wishes from all the team at The Paul Popham Fund.

COVID-19 Guidance for Staff and Volunteers

Face-to-Face visits suspended until further notice 

It is with regret that we write to inform you of our decision to ask all staff and volunteers to suspend all face-to-face patient support for the foreseeable future. We have made this decision in light of the growing concerns regarding the COVID-19 virus and the categorisation of CKD within the high-risk group.

Due to this, as an organisation, we must be especially careful as many of our volunteers and the patients who access our services are over 70 years old and have long-term health conditions considered by Public Health England/Wales to present a higher risk. At present, we are unsure how long this protocol will last, but will advise of any changes following updated Government, Public Health & NHS advice.

We will inform all patients, service users and renal teams of our decision to suspend face-to-face-support over the next few days. Throughout the coming weeks, we will post details of our updated protocols to our website and social media platforms. We will also seek to communicate with patients and their families to gain information of the types of support they require at this difficult time. This information will enable us to mobilise emergency action based on the needs of our service users and the wider renal community. We envisage that during this unprecedented situation, patients and their families will require our support more than ever. Whilst we cannot safely help with practical support i.e. shopping; we can begin to put a plan in place to ensure that all renal patients and their families have access to remote support i.e. telephone based peer-support, telephone or web-based counselling, information & advice. Throughout this, our aim is to do our best to continue our mission of Putting Patients First and helping everyone with CKD to Believe in Themselves. In addition to this, we will also share details of emergency telephone numbers and helpful signposting information, which will be available through our website.

Volunteers actively providing patient support – unfortunately we cannot be sure of how long this new protocol will be required. However, until further notice please kindly refrain from scheduling any face-to-face contact with all renal patients and their family members. We advise support to continue over the telephone for the foreseeable future. If the patient you are supporting has access to a video calling device and you feel comfortable in providing support through this medium, you are welcome to do so. If you require any help, advice or assistance, please contact the Support Services Coordinator.

If you are not actively providing patient support – we are currently working to expand our support services to meet the needs of renal patients and their families during isolation. We will be in touch with all volunteers to relay these developments as they occur. All volunteers who wish to continue to provide patient support are encouraged to contact the Support Services Coordinator and advise of their availability for the coming weeks. If you have access to a video calling device and are comfortable in providing support through this medium, please let also let us know.

All volunteers – we will be in touch with all volunteers over the coming days and weeks, as we continue to develop our services. If you have any suggestions for further developments or alternative ways of providing support, please let us know. Similarly, if you are in contact with any patients or families that may require our support during this difficult time, please give them our contact details. Whilst the PPF office team are currently working from home, we have redirected our phonelines so remain able to accept calls (and emails) as usual.

Please accept our apologies for the impact that this decision will have on our services and volunteers at this time. We hope you understand our reasons for taking such cautious action. Patient safety and wellbeing is our utmost priority and we are doing everything within our power to ensure that all patients and volunteers affected by the recent Public Health advice are protected. If you have any concerns, or are negatively affected in any way by these changes, please don’t hesitate to contact the team via support@paulpophamfund.co.uk or 0800 038 8989.

Jo’s Journey – catching up on the past two weeks!

Week 7: 17th-23rd February 2020

I started this week with a bang! I cut my long run on Sunday short as I wasn’t feeling well, so I had to motivate myself this week in order to get back on track. I packed my rucksack with sports gear and headed to work all prepared for a 3-mile run at lunch time. Midday came and my trainers went on. The sun was shining and it was a brilliant start to the week!
Tuesday was our Marathon Training Team’s long run. Steve Arnold created an 11-mile route but in my head I needed to make up for Sunday’s run, so I decided to do 13 miles! What was I going to do? Should I run from home at 5pm or meet the team at 6pm? I thought I could run the two miles before the marathon team met up, but it would still mean a late run. However, when Steve also suggested it I was swayed; the thought of running alone on a dark and wet Tuesday night was not appealing! So I ran the two miles to meet the team, and ran the remaining 11 miles with them. After those 13.6 miles were in the bank, I felt psychologically back on track!
Wednesday was club night and we were back on Mount Pleasant Hill for hill-reps with Vicky and Steve. We had lots of fun, got some hill-reps in the old legs as well as another three miles in the bank!
Thursday was a much-needed rest day which was followed by a 6.3-mile solo run on Friday in preparation for Sunday’s 14 miles!
Sunday came, and with it came the storm! It seemed to be worse than last week, so I cancelled the club run, went back to sleep and promised myself I would go out in the afternoon. Midday came and the sun was out! The wind had miraculously dropped so I strapped my trainers on and went out, completing the longest run I have ever done! 14.09 miles! When I came back home, my boyfriend Stephen had booked us a place to eat for lunch – needless to say it didn’t touch the sides! This was followed by a cinema date to see Bad Boys 2; all-in-all a good week!

Week 8: 24th February-1st March 2020

After having a great week last week, I gave myself the Monday off to prepare for 12 miles on Tuesday. Steve Arnold had created a nice 12-mile route for the club marathon team and we set off from Costa in Parc Tawe. The group started off all bunched up and as usual Lisa, Julie and myself teamed up and chatted the miles away. We had such a laugh; Lisa seemed to know where we were going so we trusted her and off we went for the last three miles. There was a little hill at the end thrown in for good measure, so I suggested to Lisa and Julie that we race up it for fun (or so I thought). It broke me! The final mile was downhill which was great as I was still having an adrenaline rush from racing up the hill! We’re almost finished when I am ready to quit, thumb down a car and hitch a ride home. “No!”, the girls shouted, “We can do this!” We happened to catch up with Anna and Darren and we all finished together; myself, Lisa and Julie had done an extra half a mile as we somehow managed to go the wrong way!
I had a meeting on the Wednesday so I missed the club run and instead planned on going to the gym. However, the meeting ran on later than I thought so I downloaded a circuit session on my phone, completed it and headed to my boyfriend’s place for dinner.
I had nothing planned on Thursday so I decided to do my new circuit session again followed by a three-mile run.
On Friday, the club was due to meet for a tempo session but the weather put us off, so I went to the gym and did a speed session on the ‘dreadmill’. The 40 minutes could not end fast enough!
Saturday was a rest day followed by 15-miles on Sunday! The marathon girls all started together with Angela Harris, one of our club members who we hadn’t seen in ages! The first three miles were spent catching up with Angela and shouting at the rest of the group to slow down! I thought that the pace was too fast for 15-miles and we tried and failed to keep up; we just kept slowing down as the rest of the group increased the pace. The twists and turns helped to slow everyone down and make sure we were all going at roughly the same pace. Poor Laura was planning on turning back after three miles to do the rest on her own, but as Poppy from Trolls says, “No PPRC member left behind!”. So we encouraged her to come with us and finish the mileage. Julie and I asked the group to wait at one bend, but they ignored our plea and carried on!
Storm Jorge was kinder than the previous storms but it did bring sun, wind, rain and sleet throughout the run. We arrived back to The LC in one piece, and Liv Arnold had managed to earn a half-marathon PB!
So, week 8 has been conquered and we are halfway through our training. We’re quite sceptical about the coronavirus; will the London Marathon be called off? With the threat of this dangling over me, my train of thought is to just enjoy the training rather than put unnecessary pressure on myself. As one of our marathon training companions CJ said, “I think the toughest challenge lies ahead for all of us now as our mileage increases during training. Injured or not, somehow we have to find the motivation to keep running knowing that it may get pulled at the last minute.”
With that in mind, I’m pushing ahead to week 9!

The link to my VirginGiving page is: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JoannePopham2

I’ll see you all next week for another update!

Jo’s Journey – Week Six!

Monday 9th Feb – Sunday 16th Feb

This week I ran Tuesday’s ten-mile run on my own. Some of the guys ran on Monday instead so they wouldn’t miss the Swans game and the rest of us split up to run different routes. I’d misplaced my house key so I needed to run towards my house in order to get home!

As always, I put my kit on slowly and managed my route – four miles out and four miles back. The last four miles were mostly flat with slight hill inclines and a long hill at the end. As you may know by now, I love a good hill so I was up for it! It was dark and cold and as I began the run, I realised that I had very little high-vis clothing on. Thankfully, there were roadworks along my route. Now, I would never tell anyone to run alongside roadworks for health and safety reasons, but they did me a massive favour! A temporary path had been laid down for pedestrians which had been marked out with cones – I was safe!

Although I felt safe, I was scared at the same time. It was a dark and lonely stretch of road to be running alone and anxious thoughts invaded my brain. Was I going to be followed or attacked or kidnapped and never seen again? The thick, dense bushes suddenly seemed to be reaching towards me. Who knew I was running? Oh yes, the team! But did they know my route? No! No one knew!

Finally I saw the faint glow of the streetlights which grew brighter as I approached. Soon, I was out of that awful darkness and running along towards the hospital. I told myself to focus on the now, and my thoughts turned to my kit. I usually wear thick tights under my running trousers during the winter months, and I began to wonder if they were restricting my stride or causing the pain I was feeling in my toes. The problem is, I was wearing new trainers and gosh they were painful. My heel was slipping which caused my toes to be pushed to the front of my shoes. I knew I needed to tighten my laces but I had to finish this run first; I wasn’t stopping for anybody!

Before I knew it, I was at the bottom of my favourite hill, Llangyfelach Hill. This marked the last part of my run and then I would be home! I began thinking about this hill and how I’ve been training on it for over 20 years. I love it, but it’s definitely a challenge; the long stretch, gradient and cracks in the pavement don’t make for easy running. To take my mind off it, I started focusing on what I love about this hill. The Kings Head, which was the pub I spent my youth in, the church my brother got married in and where I left my CD player as I thought the church needed it more than I did, and The Eagle where we had pre-wedding drinks for Matthew and Rhian’s wedding. All these fond memories were playing through my head, and before I knew it I was at the top of the hill!

This week I had made a promise to myself to go to the gym – nope, that didn’t happen! I decided to do my stretches every morning instead as I’m keen to keep those aches and pains at bay for as long as possible. I had also promised that I would try and eat healthier; I somewhat succeeded, although a Valentine’s date night and Sunday dinner with dessert went down far too well!

I went for two more runs this week before attempting Sunday’s run with Storm Dennis breathing down my neck! On the Wednesday I had a catch-up run with the club treasurer, Dave Bivens before carrying on to do a speed session with the club. On the Friday I did a 10k run along another favourite hill of mine before meeting my boyfriend Stephen for a romantic Valentine’s night – if you can call watching the Swans before our meal romantic! (Only joking, I loved it.)

Then came Sunday. Was I ready for this half-marathon run? I wasn’t feeling too good and neither was Stephen so I left him in the house. The difference between our running journey is that I have to do this; there is a marathon at the end after all! As I drove to the club, I debated whether we should even run. Storm Dennis didn’t seem too bad overnight but there was definitely a strong wind battering my car as I made my way to the club.

I arrived at the club and after a little contemplation, we agreed to get going. Alex Simpson started running with me and my legs felt like lead! My head was not helping them feel any lighter, so I told Alex to go on without me and I turned back. I didn’t feel great at all but I needed to find 13.1 miles from somewhere. I alternated between running and walking for another four miles before I decided to call it quits, reassuring myself that I wasn’t well and it was ok to rest. Week 7 is a new training week!

Link to my VirginGiving Page https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JoannePopham2

Link to the charity – www.paulpophamfund.co.uk

Link to the club – www.paulpophamrunningclub.co.uk

Jo’s Journey – Week Five


I started this week of training ready for it. I didn’t skip circuits on Monday and thoroughly enjoyed.

Tuesday was an increased long run and I was worried about getting back in time to cook tea, shower and relax before going to sleep. Was there enough time to do it all?! To make matters worse, I’m sat in my car completely kitted up, and it refused to start! I felt slightly relieved yet anxious at the same time. I was relieved that I might miss training, but anxious that I’d miss training and fall back in terms of progress.

So I rang my boyfriend Stephen and he felt as anxious as me! We developed a plan where I would run to Halfords (two miles away) to pick up some jump leads, and he would meet me back at the car. But what then? I would only be running two miles when I should have been running nine! I started running and then thought, why don’t I organise to run the nine miles and meet the team along the way, finishing the long run at Halfords? As I was thinking that, my partner in crime Lisa rang me and said, “Why don’t we meet you along the way?” How spooky!

The route we were doing went right past my house, so I sped up, met Stephen, started the car and headed back to my house to meet the team. Liv, Anna, Laura and Lisa were all running together. We had a laugh and shed some tears; Lisa had fallen prior to meeting me but managed to save herself, however her daughter Liv fell flat behind me and cut her hands and knees. We managed to laugh it off and blamed the boys who were running in front of us, imagining that they were deliberately creating a nasty obstacle course!

Wednesday was club training night and I was not feeling the hill session at all. My cousin Evan joined us and he ran with me. He’s 14 years old, tall and funny – he definitely cheered Lisa and me up! We didn’t really listen to the session (sorry Steve and Vicky) so we made it up as we went along and completed three big hill loops instead of two big and two small. We ran with Evan to make sure he was ok and on the last hill he sped up and beat us! Oh to be young again!

On Saturday Stephen was working early so I said to him, by the time you have finished your shift I will have run 12 miles and I’ll be ready for our day out! I got up and met Lisa, Nicola, Liv, Mark and Anna for our 12-mile run before our day out watching Wales V Ireland. Steve had created a route for us which went out to Pontardawe and back along the River Tawe footpath. I was feeling fine and was wearing my new trainers which the club had kindly bought me for Christmas. The miles and the time flew by as Mark and Lisa chatted about the pros and cons of buying houses at our age, as well as speculating who would win the rugby. It was a lovely sunny morning – no sign of storm Ciara at all.

Sunday’s session was called off as storm Ciara made an appearance. In total this week, I had more rest days than running, and by Sunday I didn’t feel like a marathon training runner at all. I felt more like my pre-marathon training self; a sluggish, once-upon-a-time half marathon runner. Was it the alcohol I drank on Saturday watching the rugby with my best friend Nicola, her husband Stewart and my boyfriend Stephen? Or was it the food I had eaten that week? I tried to be good at the beginning of the week, but on Wednesday Stephen and I were eating chips and curry sauce followed by a Chinese take-away for his Mum’s birthday. Then we had a bottle of wine on Friday and a McDonald’s late Saturday night, as well as a full breakfast on Sunday morning!

I contemplated all of this and decided that I would get a fourth run in this week and a gym/circuit session. I have promised myself that I’ll eat healthier, stay away from the alcohol, and make sure that I keep stretching in the mornings and the evenings.
Let’s see…week six here I come!

If you’re feeling generous and would like to donate to my Virgin London Marathon VirginGiving page, the link is below:
https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JoannePopham2

Introducing Jo’s Journey!

Our very own Jo Popham is running the Virgin London Marathon on 26th April 2020!
It was her 50th birthday last year, and she had always told herself that she would complete a marathon in her 50th year. The only marathon close to her birthday is the New York marathon; however, after many years of applying for charity spaces for the Paul Popham Fund, it was looking unlikely that this would happen. So, in 2018, Jo and her training partner, Stephen Arnold, decided to begin training together for the 2019 London Marathon.
Sadly, due to unforeseen circumstances, Jo had to pull out in 2019, but undeterred, she instead set her sights on the 2020 London Marathon!
As we count down to the big day, Jo will be documenting her training progress and giving an insight into the reality of marathon training.
Without further ado, let’s hear how Jo has been getting on with her training so far!

Week 1
I coach the beginners groups in the Paul Popham Running Club, and I thoroughly enjoy it. However, trying to find the time to train others while also working towards own personal goal is so tough! With great sadness, I had to pull out of coaching for the first quarter of this year while I train for my first marathon – London 2020!
When you’ve been coaching for three years and suddenly swap to focusing on yourself, it’s like learning to run all over again. So, on January 6, I started training from zero running with little fitness in the tank.
Steve Arnold just completed his coaching license in 2019, and he sent over a training plan he put together for me and the team. A grand total of 16 of us are training for the marathon this year!
So, back to training. This week was kind – we had to run five miles and fit another run in before our long run on Sunday. Easy! I ran the first five miles on my own along one of my usual routes, which felt really comfortable. The next run was with my partner in crime, Lisa Arnold. We took it easy and chatted the whole way – the five miles just flew by! The eight-mile club run on Sunday was lovely again!
Training has been a walk in the park so far!

Week 2
This week I was able to fit a circuits session in on Monday night, and I ran with the club on the Tuesday night – a lovely 10k!
There were seven of us on this club run. My partner in crime and I were joined by another partner in crime – Julie Dunn – and we soon became fast friends.
On Wednesday, for the first time in three years, I ran with the club instead of going ahead as a leader. It was lovely! Steve and Vicky explained the session to us, which we managed to get completely wrong! We were supposed to run a steady half marathon pace and take five seconds off each loop; however, we managed to run a fast half marathon pace and take 30 seconds off each loop! It was absolutely exhausting but hilarious at the same time.
Lisa and I arranged to meet on the Thursday to do a tempo session around Fendrod Lake. We ran for five minutes at an easy pace and five minutes at a fast pace, so there was no chatting involved! We were running the fast-pace five-minutes at around a seven-minute mile pace, which we were so proud of!
On the Friday I went to the gym for a weight and cardio session, and Saturday was my rest day.
However, I slipped off the wagon slightly! On the Friday, my boyfriend and I had a night out which ended in Noah’s Yard in Uplands with a few too many gins! My Saturday was spent recovering and attending my cousin’s 16th birthday party – I resisted a glass of bubbly so that I could be fresh for Sunday’s session.
Well, Sunday’s session was anything but fresh! I started off strong, but by the time I reached halfway my head hit the ground and I was plucking positive words from the road signs! Thankfully, Nicola Davies ran with me and we made it back to the club unharmed – nine miles in the bag!

Week 3
After Sunday, my mood began to slip. I met the team on Tuesday to run a gentle seven miles, and I ran with Julie and Lisa – I was so glad to finish that run!
Wednesday’s club session was hills, and my mood picked up! Myself, Lisa, and Liv Arnold took the session together and we had a lot of fun! It was painful fun, but fun nonetheless.
On Thursday I hit the gym, and Friday was another group training session. However, I was having my hair done and had just got out of the salon when the training started, so I decided to go home, put my kit on, and complete the session alone. Don’t tell the others, but on the fast bits of the tempo session I cheated slightly – I had just got my hair done after all!
Saturday was my rest day, preparing from the increased distance of 10 miles on Sunday.
On the Sunday, it was raining outside as well as on the inside of my head. I just didn’t have the motivation! It was so tough – I’d had a busy weekend of visiting friends and going to see Fleetwood Mac, so the training really hit me hard. I was so pleased when the run was over that I didn’t even stop and say hi or bye to my fellow runners – I just wanted to go home and forget the run had ever happened. Thank you to Simone for keeping me company at the end of those 10 miles!

Week 4
I decided to skip the gym on Monday, and was also contemplating dropping out of my Tuesday run and cancelling all socials for the next three months – thank the Lord I didn’t! Julie, Lisa, Anna, Laura and Liv soon picked my mood back up. We were joking about our marathon outfits which are now silver hot pants and a crop top – God help the spectators!
Wednesday’s club session was great. Lisa, Julie and I egged each other on and the session just flew by! However, the doubts started to creep in on Thursday.
I could feel the stress and anxiety eating away at my thoughts, and I was developing a few niggles and pains. What do I do? Where am I at with progress? I agonised all day! Should I run Thursday or Friday, or just go to the gym? I was worried that if I missed training I’d be off track and fall behind!
Wait. Stop. Hang on a minute Jo! I started to remember all of my coaching tips and thought back to my training sessions for a good half marathon. I told myself that rest is part of the training. If I ran Thursday night or Friday I’d be in danger of making these niggles and stresses worse, and then I’d really be in a tricky situation.
I downloaded stretches for my hips and told the team that I was taking a three-day rest to stretch. Fast forward to Sunday’s session and after 11 miles, I was loving life! Training is back on track!

My training plan is to work my long runs around my socials, work on my nutrition, sleep, sleep, and more sleep!

As well as training, I am raising money for the Paul Popham Fund, and I met with the club’s Social and Fundraising secretaries this week. We set out some amazing fundraising ideas – I do have the best club!
I’ll be writing a weekly training diary right up until the day itself – only a couple of months away now! I’m so grateful for any support possible – all of the love and encouragement I’ve received means so much.
The link to my VirginGiving page is: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JoannePopham2

I’ll see you all next week for another update!

Paul Popham Fund appeals for volunteer befrienders

The Paul Popham Fund, Renal Support Wales, is urging anyone who has been a kidney patient or a carer for a kidney patient to consider joining the charity’s befriender scheme.

The Paul Popham Fund aims to improve the lives of kidney patients in Wales, and a key part of that work is done by volunteer befrienders. The befrienders are people who have some experience of renal issues themselves, either as patients or carers. They provide kidney patients with listening, friendship and advice based on their own experiences – and they can signpost them on to specialist sources of help and support when required.

Joseph Townsend, 39, from Port Talbot, is delighted to have become a befriender for the Paul Popham Fund. He has gone through two kidney transplants – in 2006 and 2015 – and works as an ambulance driver transporting kidney patients to and from hospital, so he’s ideally placed to understand what the patients are going through and to strike up conversations with them.

Joe first heard about befriending in 2015, when his dialysis nurse told him she felt he would be perfect for the role. A couple of years later he met Paul Popham CEO Joanne Popham at a charity event and asked her about how to become a befriender. She got him signed up for training, and he’s been working as a befriender ever since, while also being a dad to two young children and an ambulance driver.

“The training was good,” he says. “A key point is that you learn to listen to patients’ problems and don’t try to make it all about you. They are the focus – you can help just by listening, and you can offer advice. I’ve been able to give useful pointers based on my own experience. I know which people to contact for advice, and I’m able to ask certain questions that help them look at their situation in a different way. It’s great to be steering them towards help.”

He adds that it’s important to have the support of the Paul Popham Fund behind him to help with any special issues.

“If the patients need more expert help you can ring the office and get them referred to someone who can help. They might need counselling, for example, or help with money issues,” he says.

The experience of being a befriender is enjoyable for Joe as well as helpful for the patients.

“If you like a chat and enjoy meeting people, it’s great,” he says. “I get enjoyment out of it because I’ve been in their shoes and know exactly how they feel. I wish the support had been there when I was first going through it. I feel rewarded when I know people are getting helped.”

Another positive element is the time he gets to spend with other befrienders in their regular meetings.

“The group is really nice – everyone is really friendly and supportive.,” he says. “We have little get togethers where we discuss what’s been happening. It’s nice to see everyone, have a laugh and a joke together and get everyone’s input.”

The befriending scheme is so widely appreciated that patients who have benefited from it often go on to become involved with the Paul Popham Fund.

“A lot of them become befrienders themselves, or they do something for the charity, such as helping to raise money themselves,” says Joe, who is always pleased to see new people getting involved.

“You don’t have to be a transplant patient or a person on dialysis; you could be a carer or a patient,” he says. “If you are upbeat about it, it’s easier to be a befriender – and it can help you too, as you’re not concentrating on feeling sorry for yourself: you’re focusing on helping other people.”

Support from School Boy Through Genius Hour Project

Nine year old, Liam Harris, from Ysgol Tirdeunaw, has been taking part in a ‘Genius Hour’ project at his school over the last nine weeks.

He chose to make lemonade for his project and has been trailing different varieties over the last two months to get the most popular flavour.  Yesterday, the children at Ysgol Tirdeunaw presented their projects to parents and had the opportunity to sell their innovative, business creations. 

Liam decided to use the project to raise funds for the Paul Popham Fund and donated all money raised from his lemonade stand to the charity, raising £13.95 in total. 

Well done Liam and thanks for your support!

Christmas Party For Kidney Patients in Merthyr

The Paul Popham Fund were delighted to fully fund a Christmas party for kidney patients and family members from the Merthyr dialysis unit support group.

Over 50 patients, family members and staff attended the party on Sunday 24th November in Merthyr football club.

They were treated to a three course Christmas roast, and had a live singer, quiz and raffle.

The proceeds of the raffle were donated to the Paul Popham Fund, totalling £126.60

Thank you to everyone who attended, we hope you all had a fantastic evening.