1,000km for Mind
Posted Tuesday 20 March 2012
I have been a keen and competitive runner and triathlete for about 15 years. In those years, the role racing and training have played in my life has ranged from minor diversion to life-dominating obsession and back again, but they’ve always been there.
In 2008, I finally began to come to terms with my own mental health issues which had been smouldering away for a number of years without me really understanding them. Those issues remain a very real part of my life and I’ve no doubt will continue to do so for many years to come.
As well as an amazingly supportive wife, one of the things that helps me get through some of my darkest moments is the thought, and the actual experience, of getting out running and riding in the hills and swimming in the local pool or lake.
Admittedly, my own mental health problems are towards the milder end of the spectrum but they’re debilitating enough. And getting out and stretching my legs in the wilds really does help. But don’t just take my word for it. There is research that shows that some forms of physical exercise are an effective alternative to antidepressants in the treatment of mild to moderate depression.
Now I'm not one of those people that needs to run every day for self-fulfilment or personal validation, but there is no denying that my disposition is decidedly sunnier after I've been out for a decent slog through the local mud:
For me, running plays a very important part of my self-prescribed and reasonably informal therapy. In fact, each run is a therapy session in itself.
In June I will attempt, with NZ trail runner Mal Law, to run the entire length of the South West Coast Path, from Minehead to Poole, in two weeks. Our reasons for doing this are to raise awareness of mental health issues and to raise money for Mind and the NZ Mental Health Foundation.
It will be a gruelling test of physical and mental endurance. The route is 1,014km in length and has 35,000m of ascent (for those that do heights in units of Everest that’s the equivalent of four of them).
Although fundamentally it’s about raising money for Mind and the NZ Mental Health Foundation, I also want the challenge to help get the positive message about the links physical exercise and mental wellbeing out there.
Mal and I both have our own reasons for taking on this epic challenge, but when it comes to recognising the emotional and mental benefits of running (or any other form of exercise) we’re both on the same page: get out there, give it a go and see what it can do for you.
Follow Tom’s and Mal’s preparations for their big run on their website, Facebook page or Twitter feed. You can also support Mind via the CoastPathRun challenge through donations via Tom’s JustGiving page.
If you feel inspired to run for Mind, take a look at our upcoming events and do good, feel great - join Mind's team!
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