Until last weekend, I hadn’t taken part in a race since my last high school sports day about 8 years ago. I’ve always liked athletics but long distance running was never really my thing.
I remember doing one cross country race that had me so numb with the cold that I hadn’t even realised that at some point, through the mud and sludge, I’d managed to lose a shoe. I then had to walk around this great big field as I tried to find my trainer somewhere in the swamp – as you can imagine, I was rather put off the sport.
Over the last few years I’ve managed to rediscover my love for fitness. I’ve become an avid gym goer, and enjoy a range of workout styles including circuits, suspension training and pilates. Although, running has remained a thing from the past.
Then, at the end of last year, something pretty terrible happened. On November 8th 2016 a colleague of mine took his own life. It was my third experience of losing someone to suicide, but this one hit me pretty hard…
At the funeral, we were told about CALM, the Campaign Against Living Miserably – a charity that encourages men to talk about their feelings and challenges a culture that seemingly prevents men from seeking help when they need it. It made me think a lot about whether my friend could have known there was support out there?
So, not long after, I was asked by a fellow fitness enthusiast if I’d ever consider doing an organised race of any sort. Perhaps a couch-to-5K, 10K, a Race For Life… and while the humiliating lost-muddy-trainer-episode kept popping up from my unconscious mind, I started to think about it.
What if I did take part in an event and do some good for charity?
What if I entered a half marathon and fundraise for CALM?
Overcome with inspiration, I signed up for the Cardiff Half Marathon and the next day, my training begun.
Six months, 300K of training runs and one completed half marathon later and I’m pleased to write that I raised a total of £707 for CALM and I finished the race in 2.15 hours. It was the most amazing but also moving experience. Not only does it show that you can do anything you put your mind to it, but it stressed how important mental health is.
To support CALM or MIND, another mental health charity, see the links below.