My journey from 'anal' pharmacist to mindful marathon runner

"One time I got completely lost on a run in my local area"

Preparing for the London Marathon takes a lot more than exercise, says pharmacist Aamer Safdar

Pharmacists are an interesting breed. By our very nature, many of us thrive on detail and focus on the minutiae of everything. We are simply made like that.

For the record, I am anything but a person who thrives on detail – in fact, I see myself as the total opposite. Detail and myself simply don’t get on together. This is why I find it fascinating that when I speak with fellow runners (I now count myself as a runner, even though I still don’t see running as ‘my thing’) we generally end up discussing details like running distances, pace, calories burned, elevation, sports gels and their contents, such as sugar and caffeine.

These focused discussions are the opposite to my usual ‘no detail’ perspective. I must admit that I am surprised to discover I have an 'anal personality' when it comes to running.

By not being able to say ‘no’ as much as I should, I find myself in a situation where I have more to do than I have time for; I'm sure that I'm not alone here. This leads to a stressful life, where my work-life balance is not always maintained.

I found that running was one way of having time on my own to think things through – apart from one time when I got completely lost on a run in my local area. On reflection, I was stressed enough that I was running without paying attention to where I was headed.

This led me to consider, and then start using, ‘mindfulness’ as a strategy for both managing and enjoying my runs. For me, this means being in the present and paying attention to detail – being more ‘anal’, if you like. I now pay attention to things like bus stop locations, car number plates and road signs. It is really amazing – I see things that I would otherwise not notice.

So what are my thoughts for the London Marathon from the perspective of a pharmacist? I have been 'anal' with my preparation in terms of training, diet and fluid hydration. On race day, I will not pay too much attention to my pace and will stop myself from getting obsessed with how fast I am running.

Instead, I will focus on the bigger picture of why I am running for Pharmacist Support. I will enjoy the crowds and, perhaps most importantly, will enjoy the feeling of accomplishment when I cross that finish line. I'll try to do all of this by being mindful.

You will be able to track my run live during the marathon and, if you see that I am maintaining a constant pace, you will know that I am running as planned. If you see me on the TV – or live if you're a spectator – then please do give me a cheer!

You can find a link to my fundraising page below. If you feel that my efforts are worthy of a donation, then you know what to do.

You can follow Aamer on Twitter @asafdar1 and his training through the hashtag #RunAamer. You can sponsor him  with all donations going to Pharmacist Support  here.  


Sachin Badiani, Pharmacy owner/ Proprietor

Good luck!

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