When I finally got some sort of control of my mental health, I always had it in the back of mind that I could go back to that dark place. Something I definitely don’t want.
Certain things can easily change my mood and bring me down. My mood has been good recently but March is a challenging month for me, with memories of bad times rearing their heads.
The early passing of my best friend, Si and his funeral were a big trigger for my mental health problems at the time. The anniversary is always a tough time for me.
This year was also the 8th anniversary of my knee surgery. This had a devastating effect on me and sent me spiralling back into depression all them years ago.
Although I had no events or races for March to try and occupy my mind, running has again been my saviour.
The month started with a mini UKRunChat Team Red Meet Up at Northallerton parkrun. It was great to meet and run with Marie and Fin. Obviously there was tea and cake afterwards.
The following day I ran the Great Run Local Stockton 5k with my son. The tail runner was fantastic and so supportive towards us as we trotted round. As we ran in to the finish, many of our fellow Orchard Eagles running club members running there stayed to cheer Finlay over the line. It was lovely to see and the big smile on my son’s face said it all.
By the end of the following week I was starting to struggle mentally.
It was the funeral of an ex colleague and friend, John. I wanted to go but my mind was all over the place. Memories of my best friend, Si were flooding back, I needed something to help me.
It was a sunny day so I put my trainers on and headed out of the door. One mile after another, fresh air in my lungs, thoughts running through my head. Yes there was tears but plenty of smiles. I ended up running more miles then I intended but it was just what I needed. A good head clearer. When I got home, I logged my run and shared my mental struggles online, the support from the running community was great.
I got a nice surprise too, I won an online competition with Tees Active to win 2 places at the Stockton Duathlon. I’ve done the event a couple of times and loved it so I was well chuffed. My friend who has wanted to do a duathlon, was happy to accept the offer of the second entry.
The next day, Facebook memories reminded me of my knee surgery. For a while I hated seeing the pictures and video of the surgery but now I look and think how lucky I am to be able to run.
World and European champion sprinter Richard Kilty was attending the next Great Run Local Stockton to promote the upcoming Great Tees 10k and the Great City Games. There was a great turnout for the run and many people from our Running Club attended. I managed to run a new course PB and meet Richard for a chat and a picture.
The next 2 weeks I was busy with work and wasn’t sleeping well. This meant I found running hard and not really enjoyable. My head was playing games with me and I didn’t want to play. I started to think my coping techniques for depression were going to have to come out.
The one shining light was an invitation I got to an event, which did cheer me up. But more of that invitation later
So I decided to have a change and volunteered at parkrun. I hadn’t done it for a while and felt it would be good to give something back. It also meant my son and I could spend some together, marshalling on the parkrun route, cheering on the runners and spotting fellow club runners. We had a great time.
Another few days of not running and although I was still busy with work, it was helping me to get my head right.
I decided I finally needed a run and went out one evening. I enjoyed it so much. Think the plan worked.
So remember that invitation?! Well event day came round. It was during the day but I work split shifts so was able to go.
In my last blog I mentioned I became an EOTN ambassador for the Durham 10k. This is part of the 3 day Durham City Run Festival later in the year.
Helping to promote the Festival is a big part of the role, and the event invitation was the launch of Paula Radcliffe‘s event at the Festival, Families on Track.
Yes, I said Paula Radcliffe!
There was going to be a press call involving photos, filming and a demo of the event. There was even talk of a run with Paula.
After arriving in Durham at the event location, I met Anji from Events of the North, the Festival organisers. We had a quick catch up before Mark, the other Durham 10k ambassador arrived. I’d never met Mark before but we were soon chatting away. Anji also gave us our ambassador T-shirts to wear.
We were introduced to Paula and after a quick chat with got some pictures taken with her before the official press photo shoot.
It was interesting and fun to watch the demonstration of the event Paula was introducing at the Festival. A family relay race over 10k.
After the demo there was various photo shoots, interviews and videoing with different people and group by the press.
The company who are sponsoring the Families on Track event, Atom Bank had organised a 5k run with Paula. Myself and Mark were kindly invited along if we wanted. The chance to run with Paula Radcliffe and Steve Cram! Too right we were joining them.
Yeah Steve Cram was also there. Events of the North, the race organisers is his company.
After the press call and before the run, Paula and the EOTN team went into Durham city centre to do some publicity photos. I asked if I could tag along and kindly Anji said no problem.
Again it was interesting to watch how a photo shoot is put together, all the little tricks to get the right shots.
I did have to pinch myself at times when I realised that I was doing and who I was with. Especially when it was just me, Paula and Steve walking up to the Cathedral talking about the Durham 10k finish. I must have looked like some rather excited competition winner!
It was surreal at times and I had a ‘What is going on?!’ moment when I found myself in a car with Paula and Steve travelling to the Atom Bank offices for the run. Bizarre.
The run was surprisingly well organised with HiVis marshals, a marked route and cameras.
Unintentionally Mark and myself ended up running the route together. Which was great for me as I didn’t know anyone else there.
Halfway through and Steve Cram bounds pass us as we hit a nice uphill section, there is no way of keeping up with him.
Finishing back at the Atom Bank offices, there is water and fruit waiting for us. They really were well organised.
Got a few more pictures at the end of the run with Paula, Steve, Anji and Mark. Well that was that, back to reality and back to work for my afternoon shift.
A few days later and it’s the last weekend of the month, which means two things, parkrun and Great Run Local.
My wife fancied doing Fountains Abbey parkrun, I’d done it once before but wanted to do it again also. Andy from Team Tedious joined us, it was his first time there too. Me and Andy had a good chatty parkrun whilst pacing Justine round to a quick time.
Going to Fountains Abbey is always special for us. I used to work there, we lived next to it and we also got married there too.
While we were there, we went to see my dad who is recovering from surgery and as it was Mothering Sunday weekend it was good to see my mum.
To end the month, I ran to Great Run Local and ran the 5k while Justine and Finlay ran the 2k. It was another good run to finish the month.
So even though I’m in a better place mentally now, things can always bring me down. Causing me to battle with my depression.
Over the years I have found little way of helping myself during tough times.
But whether it’s pounding the pavements, volunteering at parkrun, supporting fellow runners at events or online chatting, running has always helped.
If you’re struggling with mental health issues, you’re not alone. Help is out there, you just need to seek it out. Try different things, the first bit of help might not work for you but other options are there. There is always hope.