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Book online «Run Well Juliet McGrattan (microsoft ebook reader TXT) 📖». Author Juliet McGrattan

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CHAPTER 1 The Head

CHAPTER 2 The Cardiovascular System

CHAPTER 3 The Respiratory System

CHAPTER 4 The Gastrointestinal System

CHAPTER 5 The Urinary System

CHAPTER 6 The Reproductive System

CHAPTER 7 The Musculoskeletal System

CHAPTER 8 The Skin

CHAPTER 9 Self-Care





Dear Runner,

I have been a part of this wonderful community for 13 years and it has brought me so much joy. It has supported, encouraged and motivated me, helped me be my best, finished in front, behind and beside me, and cheered me on regardless. It’s not just the running, it’s the people and the opportunities that it has brought me. I have made friends, travelled the world and even found a new career. It was time for me to give back. I wanted to use my years of running, my 16 years working as a GP and my new career as a writer to create something for you all.

The human body is a complex and fascinating thing, and I am still learning about it. Despite our best intentions, things go wrong and navigating the online forums and websites to get the information you need can be a tricky and even dangerous task. Over the years as a GP and as a health expert for many magazines and online communities, I have been asked literally hundreds of running-related health questions. I hope in the pages of this book you will find something to reassure you, to inform you and even to make you laugh. I want you to learn about your body so you can be amazed by it, know how to look after it and feel confident about when to ask for help.

I have enjoyed writing this book so much. I have imagined you all, across the desk from my computer, asking me questions and listening to my answers. I feel you have shared this journey with me. So, my running friends, here is my book and I hope it helps you to run well.

P.S. Do remember that this book in no way replaces seeing a medical professional who can assess you, examine you and take your personal medical and family history into account. If you’re a competing athlete, then always check that any medications you use aren’t prohibited. But I know you know that!


Running is a journey of discovery. Not just of running routes and new places but of your own human body. Your capacity to endure and perform. Your resilience and courage. Your ability to harness the power of running and use it in other areas of your life. But, like any journey, there are ups and downs, delays and set-backs. It’s a steep learning curve with huge potential for errors but incredible rewards too.

I cast my mind back to my first half marathon. The New Balance English Half Marathon in Warrington in 2010. I had been running for two years and had never run more than 10 miles. I lined up at the start, already soaked and frozen from the torrential rain. I had no bin liner to keep me dry, no jumper to toss aside once I’d begun to run. I set off with no watch, no race fuel and wearing shorts that were not remotely designed for long distance running when you don’t possess a thigh gap! It was the hardest thing I had ever done. My Dad was watching runner after runner cross the finish line and wondering if I had got lost. When I eventually did (just about) manage to raise my arms in celebration and claim my medal, I was broken. I could barely take another step or string a sentence together. My Dad bundled me into a restaurant, fed me pasta and drove me home. The next day I had such severe chafing that I had weeping wounds on my inner thighs. I had to use surgical dressings with tights over the top to even be able to walk. I couldn’t wear a bra because the skin around my chest was so raw. My feet were one big blister. Everything hurt. Stairs were an impossibility, in fact, even turning over in bed made me wince and groan. I was a mess. But I was happy. I did it! I rose to what was a seemingly impossible challenge for me. I wanted more. I wanted to do it again and do it better, faster and with food, Vaseline and Lycra shorts! I knew I had a lot to learn about my body and myself. I was thirsty to find out the answers to all the questions I had.

That was the beginning of a true voyage of discovery for me. I want to share it with you. In this book I want to take you on a journey too, around your body. We’ll visit each body system in turn, starting at the head and working our way down. We’ll explore the anatomy and how each system works before turning to the questions that runners have asked me over the years. There’ll be surprising facts, things to try at home and runners sharing their own experiences along our route. Grab your running shoes and water bottle. The starting gun has fired and the first stop is the brain.

Chapter 1


The Head

Firmly protected inside our skull bones lies the control centre for our entire body. From regulating our breathing to determining our emotions, from activating muscles to weighing up facts, our brain masterminds it all. Despite extensive research we still don’t fully understand how it works. Have you ever wondered whether running can make you more intelligent or why people get a headache after a run? And what exactly are the links between running and mental health? Let’s get our heads down and explore this mind-blowingly clever part of our body.

The cerebral cortex is the outer part of the brain. It looks rather like a large, lumpy walnut and it’s made up of four lobes: the frontal, parietal, temporal and occipital lobes. Each of

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