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Running Is My Escape

According to the most recent medical statistics, one in every four people are currently struggling with some kind of mental illness.

Photograph by Graham Whitby Boot

Chances are someone we all know will be fighting to feel at their best and it is equally as likely to be someone nobody would ever suspect, just like myself.


On the outside I may appear to be a confident, jovial journalist yet behind closed doors and between my ears nothing could be further from the truth at times.


I may have worked with words for many years but trying to accurately describe depression remains an incredibly tough task. It is an all-consuming, all conquering feeling of sadness which quite often results in periods of self-loathing, loneliness and numbness.


"... if I can get through 26.2 miles then I can dig in during periods when I’m starting to struggle elsewhere"


But that is why I run and have somehow ended up completing seven London Marathons. During the last few years, I have tried pretty much every treatment or medication possible to try and feel better.


However, nothing comes close to running when it comes to clearing your head and starting to feel far better about yourself. Signing up for races means I simply have to get out there, however I maybe feeling.


Now, I’m far from a natural runner.

I’ve been lapped on the first loop of parkrun (thank you Adam Hickey!) and the leaders have probably returned home and finished a three course meal before I’ve completed the course.


But there lies the beauty of running for me: everyone is running their own race, they’re continually trying to get better and battling on when it starts to get painful – traits I try and incorporate in everyday life. After all, if I can get through 26.2 miles then I can dig in during periods when I’m starting to struggle elsewhere.


"... people are starting to realise that speaking out about your mental health is not actually a sign of weakness"


Running has also been my escape throughout lockdown, so much so in fact that I’ve ruined two lots of shoes! It has been a testing time and many people will have struggled with the restrictions in place.


As a man I thought for such a long time that I couldn’t admit to how I was feeling, just like how you try not to cry in front of anyone when watching a sad film! But, fingers crossed, times are slowly changing and people are starting to realise that speaking out about your mental health is not actually a sign of weakness.


It is in fact, a real sign of strength.





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