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Meet our Marathon runner Paul
Paul Young is stepping up a gear from casual jogger to Marathon runner for Blood Pressure UK
After a sky-high blood pressure reading of over 200mmHg, followed by a few months of denial, 47-year-old Paul from Kent decided to go from casual jogger to Marathon runner for Blood Pressure UK. We hear how his training is going and why it’s a cause close to his heart.
How did you find out you had high blood pressure?
Whenever I’d visited the doctor over the last few years my blood pressure was always quite high, around 150 – 160mmHg, but they always called it white coat syndrome and said don’t worry about it.
I went in to hospital for a minor procedure in January 2018 and my blood pressure was sky high – 206/140mmHg. They didn’t do the procedure, but instead admitted me to hospital because they were worried about my blood pressure.
I think it had been particularly heightened because I was about to have a procedure. But the doctor said I should get it seen to and 24-hour blood pressure monitoring showed it was around 162/105mmHg.
My GP put me on some medications starting with 1mg of Perindopril. We gradually increased the dose to 8mg daily, and now we’ve got it under control. My blood pressure is regularly 140/90mmHg and the GPs happy with that.
Were you surprised it was so high?
I think I was in denial to be honest. I’m fit and healthy and I eat well. I probably drink a bit too much, but all the usual warning signs just weren’t there.
I just thought: “why have I got it? There must be some underlying issue, I can’t have high blood pressure.”
The doctor said “you’re doing everything right, but it just happens to some people. Sometimes it can be genetic, so I think we should put you on some medications.” But it was a few months before I started taking them.
What made you start taking your medications?
I just had to get over it really and stop being silly. As we all know, high blood pressure is a silent killer.
I’ve probably had it for years. The typical story with hypertension. Ignored it, didn’t know about it, didn’t cause any problems – it’s just up and down. But clearly not.
The only things that it could be are stress with work and alcohol. I wasn’t drinking excessively but I have cut down a bit now with training.
What made you want to take on the London Marathon?
I’ve always had a hankering to do the London marathon. Even when I wasn’t very fit. It’s a fantastic occasion and a great event. And to do it for charity would be an honour.
My wife is running it too, so we’ll be asking for sponsorship from the same people!
Have you always been a runner?
I used to run when I was much younger. I actually ran a marathon many years ago – but it doesn’t really count because I hardly did any training and thought I could just do it. I hobbled round. Then I gave up and didn’t do any for years and years and years.
What made you take it up again?
I have two teenage daughters, 16 and 13, and they’re both into athletics and football. The older one is doing well at county level for cross country and track. They got me inspired to take up running again, around five years ago.
I was approaching the right side of 50, putting a bit of weight on and not really doing any exercise. I thought ‘this is not good’ so I got back into the running, lightly at first, jogging here and there, and it’s taken off from there.
I especially like doing Park runs. They’re 5K runs every Saturday morning.
How are you feeling about the big day?
I’m really looking forward to it. Now that Christmas is out the way, all of a sudden it seems very close. It’s a daunting prospect but I’m sure it will be a fantastic day.
I don’t have a target time. I just want to get around it, have fun and raise as much money as possible for Blood Pressure UK.
What does Marathon training schedule look like?
Four runs a week with a combination of fast, slow, medium and interval runs, where you speed up and slow down.
Sunday is the long run, and it builds up. I’m up to an hour and 20 minutes, then it’s an hour and 30, then it moves onto distances. 10 miles, 14 miles, 16…
There’s two rest days a week, and on one you’re supposed to do core training and cross training and stretching. I’m not very good at that, I need to work on my core!
How do you fit your training in around work and family life?
I have to be proactive about being active. I have early starts and long hours working for a global IT company. It’s not a healthy lifestyle – sitting at a desk.
It’s hard to fit training in with calls and meetings but now that I’ve got a training schedule I’ve been more organized. I work best when I’ve got a schedule or something to aim for. I’m a bit OCD about it making sure I stick to it, but I’m putting the work in now so I can enjoy it on the day.
My wife and I try and go running together – especially the long runs on Sundays. One thing about the London marathon is you’re training at the worst time of year. Its dark, it’s cold.. The long runs can get quite lonely so it’s really good to run with somebody.
Are you enjoying it?
I am yes. I have been feeling the benefits. I’m feeling more alert, more awake, more full of energy.
Why did you choose Blood Pressure UK?
It makes it a difference event when it’s for a cause that matters to you, and it’s a cause very close to my heart. I wanted to give something back. I was so glad Blood Pressure UK had space available, it was a natural fit.
I wasn’t aware of all the resources you had available before I got diagnosed, they’re really helpful and there’s so much good stuff in there. I like the Know Your Numbers! campaign to raise visibility – because most people are like me and don’t know they have high blood pressure or are in denial about it. Or just ignore it.
Blood pressure is a silent killer, it has no outward symptoms. If you have pain, you go and get it sorted out, but high blood pressure usually has no signs. And mine was over 200mmHg which could have gone horribly wrong.
It’s good that there are organisations like Blood Pressure UK out there to help people. And I hope people are listening and take heed of the advice.
My wife is running for the National Osteoporosis Society. She has a history of osteoporosis in the family. So, it’s a cause close to her and her families heart too.
How are you fundraising?
I’m asking friends, family and work colleagues and giving regular updates on my social media. I’ve updated my LinkedIn and twitter @monkhabit and I’m fundraising through Virgin Money Giving. I’m aiming to raise £2,000.
Do you have any advice for people who haven’t had their blood pressure checked for a while?
Just get checked. If there’s an issue, you can get it dealt with, don’t be scared – medication is not to be afraid of. Everyone should have their blood pressure checked.
Don’t fear exercise. I wasn’t doing any exercise for years and years. You don’t have to do London Marathons, whatever exercise you do is good for the body.
It’s good for the mind as well. There’s a lot of research showing your mental health and well-being improve with exercise. You can just go out and have a walk or go swimming, it’s all beneficial for the heart and mind.
I would also like to cheekily ask if anyone would like to sponsor me.