Lace Up Your Trainers For The Birmingham Half Marathon

Birmingham Half Marathan September 13th saw the biggest half marathon take place in Newcastle, with top athletes including Mo Farah, David Weir and Shelly Woods - all who won their respective races - were joined by 57,000 other runners.

Whilst Newcastle and the North of England were able to bask in the glory of the Great North Run, on October 18th 2015 Birmingham will be able to show what it can do, as the Great Run series comes to town, with the biggest half marathon in the Midlands.

The Birmingham Half Marathon is, in my opinion, the best half marathon - even beating the half marathon which is held in my hometown of Leicester a week later. And this year will be the 3rd year I've taken part in this particular race - and my fifth half marathon!

If you've never laced up your trainers and stood on the start line of a half marathon race with thousands of other runners, and you've never ran the grueling, yet enjoyable, 13.1 miles then you are missing out.

I would love to be able to paint you a picture of how much fun and how rewarding running a half marathon for charity is, but I don't think my words would do it justice. The excitement and anticipation, not just from the runners who are gearing up for the race but also from the spectators is electric.

There's a buzz in the air which cannot be replicated anywhere else, strangers bonding over a common goal of looking to tackle the 13.1 miles which lay ahead - many runners tackling the course for a charity close to their hearts, and with family and friends cheering them on.

During the race the streets are lined with spectators, even streets where you may not necessarily expect to see them, they are there - cheering on and encouraging people that they've never met before and are unlikely to meet again. People come out of their houses just to applaud the runners, people stop whatever it was they were doing in the streets to clap, local church congregations come out and support - literally anyone you can think of will be out and about cheering on the thousands of runners as they put themselves through pain and a rollercoaster of emotions.

As for the final mile, which takes in Middleway and ends on Broad Street, this is something else altogether. Writing about it now, as I sit in the comfort of my lounge, brings goosebumps as well as tears to the eyes. It is the last mile where the body is hurting everywhere and all you want to see is the finish line, which seems to never come, where the crowd are extra special.

The bridges over Middleway are always packed, Broad Street is always 3 or 4 people deep on the pavement and it's a wall of noise, euphoric cheers and unwavering support which as a runner, I can tell you, really does make a huge difference and mean a lot. If it wasn't for aiming for a PB every time I take on the Birmingham Half Marathon, I would stop on Broad Street and film the experience (perhaps I need to borrow a GoPro for this year's race).

For me, the Birmingham Half Marathon is when Birmingham really truly shines as a great city, full of compassionate, supportive and wonderful people. I cannot recommend the experience enough, even if you're not a runner, on October 18th 2015 why not come out and support those (like myself) who are tackling the 13.1 miles and experience it for yourselves - particularly Broad Street?!

As much as I love running the Birmingham Half Marathon, I do take part for a serious reason - and that is to raise money for a charity which is close my heart, John Taylor Hospice.

Everyone at John Taylor Hospice does an incredible, amazing job - they truly are fantastic, but they can only do it with the support of sponsorship. In fact it costs £14,000 a day for John Taylor Hospice to run all the services they do - and these services make a huge difference to their patients and families.

I'm truly humbled to put on the John Taylor Hospice vest, as I know by running 13.1 miles for them in October, with the help of everyone who sponsors me, I'll be making a massive difference.

As John Taylor Hospice say "Every Moment Matters" - and whilst I've written this piece to give you a flavour of what the Birmingham Half Marathon is like, to promote yet another great event in this great city, I would love it if you could all spare whatever it is you can to sponsor me - either via (where you can read more about why I'm running for JTH) or by texting JTMY86 £2 to 70070 - thank you!


By Michael Younger, Copywriter by nature, Twitter user (@myounger14) & chief owl spotter.

Stop Smoking? Don’t Even Start!

By Lorraine Saint John How smoking plays havoc with your skin

When I used to partake in the practice, most of the advice I read to try and counteract my habit would be to "take large doses of antioxidants" or to "detox with milk thistle" or "take lots of vitamin C! Which led me to believe that I was protecting my body whilst simultaneously carrying out this terrible lifestyle choice. My advice? Don't bother starting at all or stop as soon as you feel brave enough.

Let’s be straight; cigarette smoking is just about the worst thing you can do to your body.

No smoking cigarette murky


It affects the circulation, skeletal, nervous, reproductive and the respiratory systems negatively. There is absolutely no way that your body can function optimally, whilst it is being voluntarily barraged with pollutants and compounds such as:

  • Formaldehyde (embalming fluid)
  • Ammonia (toilet cleaner)
  • Acetone (nail polish remover) my personal favourite!

Smokers have increased nutritional needs due to their intake of carcinogens and other cancer causing chemicals so it's not just lung cancer to be concerned about but also high blood pressure, strokes emphysema, osteoporosis and decreased fertility.

But I'm going to focus on the effect smoking has on our largest organ - the skin.

Skin Trade

Because the toxins in cigarette smoke are absorbed directly into the bloodstream, the body then releases free radicals which scavenge and spread causing an inflammatory response which circulates throughout your body and causes blood vessels to constrict water content also decreases, resulting in dehydration. Oxygen levels reduce to dangerously low levels and immunity to illnesses is reduced. 

When you smoke, the organs, including the skin, become starved of oxygen and hurriedly poisoned by high levels of carbon monoxide.

Vitamin C helps to preserve collagen and elastin fibres that successfully keep skin supple, plump and youthful. With each cigarette, at least 30-45mg of this essential antioxidant is used up thus begins the rapid decline of your skin.

Smokers can use vitamin C and E lotions, serums and oils for strengthening and brightening skin and exfoliate regularly and gently to keep skin cells rejuvenated, particularly with enzymatic peels and scrubs.

Yes, quitting is tough and your mind needs to be supported as well as your body. In my studio, I have supported many through smoking cessation therapy programs and watched them become luminous and radiant with rude health.

However, try your best not to rely too heavily on nicotine patches or gums as these are nothing but a crutch to prolong the inevitable which makes it easier to relapse.

Your body expects you to be well; your body can be well. You place so many demands upon it, so do what you have to do to keep up! Why not feel and look and be your very best by making good healthy choices daily?

So do your skin some good, treat yourself to a regular facial or an intense but relaxing facial massage but best of all, give yourself a great reason to kick the habit!

Lorraine Saint John is a Beauty & Nutritional Therapist and director of Bespoke Health Studio.  She can be contacted on  or @bespokehs