Born to run
Doctor Andrew Murray talks to Deputy Editor, Rosie Barcroft about how he started running to “see the world”
Andrew Murray: I’ve always been sporty. Throughout university I played football and a few other team-based activities. But I wanted to see the world and realised running was a cheap and great way to do it. I mean you only need a t-shirt, some shorts and a pair of trainers and you’re off. It allowed me to explore new areas and see things from a different perspective.
RB: What do you get up to on an average day?
AM: Quite a lot! I’m a General Practitioner and I also work as the Sports and Exercise Medicine doctor for the European Golf Tour amongst other things. I love the great outdoors, which is just as well as I’m usually out running for a couple of hours every day.
RB: Do you have a specific training regime?
AM: Not really. I tend to do different things for different races. There’s no substitute for running really. I live in Scotland so if I have a hilly race coming up, I’ll be up and down Arthur’s Seat during the week and then I’ll travel to the highlands over the weekend, hopefully with a few friends to make it more sociable. And the more mountains you tick off the more you’ve earned your pint at the end.
RB: You managed to run ‘The Big 10’ (Scotland’s 10 highest mountains) in 13 hours and 10 minutes. What was the toughest part?
AM: The weather mainly. It was pretty windy and cloudy, plus thunderstorms were threatening and rain was on its way. Luckily, not all the forecast came true, although Donnie Campbell — my running partner — and I planned to hide in the valleys if the storm did hit; we didn’t want to risk being fried.
RB: What other problems did you have to cope with?
AM: I managed to do something to my back a few days before ‘The Big 10’ challenge, so I spent a couple of nights sleeping on the floor. I took the first mountain, Ben Lawers (1,214 metres) a little slower than the rest, especially on the way down, just to make sure I could do it. Luckily, aside from some slight twinges I was fine — so sped up for the next nine.
RB: You’ve had quite a few set backs over the past few years. How do you deal with them?
AM: Just remember that things are never going to go as smoothly as you think. I turned up to run the North Pole marathon in 2012 with my wrist in a plaster cast as I broke it 10 days before the race. The cast made it almost impossible to pull my glove on, which of course wasn’t great in the North Pole. Somehow, amazingly I worked through it and managed to win. More recently, I had awful food poisoning when I was supposed to run from the Andes to the Amazon. I think I would have got away with it had it not been 100 miles at high altitude. In the end I had to bail. It’s always disappointing when these things happen, but I’ve found if I stay focussed and remember everyone who has helped me get there, family, friends, sponsors etc. then it’s much easier to keep my head up and work towards my next challenge.
RB: Do you think you’ll try running from the Andes to the Amazon again?
AM: I’m not sure. My wife is actually due in a few weeks with our first child, so probably not. Ask me again in a few years.
RB: Many runners suffer from knee problems, what advice could you give them?
AM: Listen to your body. If you’re new to running, build it up gradually and work your way into it. And if you’re a regular runner with knee problems, perhaps have a break or go and see a professional. But I highly recommend running, or indeed any form of exercise — it does wonders for your health. Even 30 minutes of walking five says a week has been shown to make people happier on average — and live 7.2 years longer.
RB: Finally, what’s your next adventure?
AM: Having a kid! I would also like to do a multi-activity race across the Cairngorms, Scotland starting at the River Dee. It will involve climbing to the top of the mountain, skiing, if there’s snow, part way before kayaking down the river and then running out. It should be great fun!
For more information:
Dr Andrew Murray: http://docandrewmurray.com
Andrew Murray is fundraising for SAMH: https://www.justgiving.com/runners4getactive/
Andrew Murray is a Merrell Brand Ambassador: https://www.merrell.com/UK/en