2018 will be my first full year of running. It was on the 26th March 2017 that I started to run, partly to help get myself fitter and to help with my mental health. At this point I had already set a determination to beat the social anxiety, that had affected my life for so long but I knew I had more to achieve. I could only hope back in March of last year, that running would be the weapon in my battle needed.
2018 has had a mixed start. The negatives being two runs cancelled due to the weather. The runs were Ashbourne 10 (a 10 mile run along the Tisslington Trail) and my local, Lincoln 10k. Weather is to blame with a late winter hitting the United Kingdom and with Lincoln, I would of had to pull out due to a viral infection.
The positives in the first quarter of 2018 are a sub25, 5k at Belton House ParkRun, one of my set targets of 2018. A strong muddy trail run in the Rauceby Ripper (8.6 miles), completing R.E.D (Run Every Day for Mind in January)and I survived my first cross country since a child. A clue to one of my biggest highlights, is in the title. I was lucky enough to get a place in this year’s Great North Run, located in Newcastle. Admittedly, it is a lottery via a ballot of who gets through but the challenge of what I face is the biggest battle but what I will achieve, will be the biggest win of my life.
The Great North Run is the worlds most popular half marathon, made more famous recently by pro athletes such as Sir Mo Farah. There are just under sixty thousand people running it, not to mention all the wonderful spectators and volunteers.
In my first year of running, I have already completed 3 half marathons. I love the distance and my body is not affected by running 13.1 miles, too much. The biggest challenge ahead of me is the mental aspect of running and keeping the social anxiety in it’s box.
Some say running is 98% a battle with the mind and the rest is fitness. That said, I have to overcome more than just, ‘my legs are aching, I need to stop’ or ‘I’m exhausted, i need to walk a bit’. The later is often better ran out and is more your mind playing games. I know that I also have to deal with being surround by 60k people, the crowd, the anxiety but unless I am injured, I am not going to lose this battle!
There is no way, I will be close to the top 20,000 runners never mind in the top 100 but, I am determined to walk away as a winner and the Great North Run will be a trophy for overcoming my battles. No matter what my position will be, I will have won.
There are many tricks that I have used and learnt over the years, sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. The main thing I will keep in my mind and I have even written this on my hand in extreme times is this ‘Focus on the end goal and what the feeling will be like if I do not achieve that’. Only Injury will keep me away!
When I run the Great North Run, I will be wearing my Sleaford Striders AC vest with great pride. Running has been instrumental in helping my recovery with depression and social anxiety. The friends and relationships I have made via the club mean so much to me and something I value with my life. Alongside these wonderful people and the support they have given me, will be those outside of running, the family and friends who have stood by me. I know that as I stand alongside the near sixty thousand runners, there will be a lot of people thinking of me, cheering me on and whom have helped me get to this stage. I owe so much to you all!
I am not 100% cured, the battles are still there but currently I am the strongest I have been for quite some time and through running I have learnt that I am stronger than the illnesses have allowed me to believe I am.
As I count down to the Great North Run, I am eating more healthily, training more and increasing cross training to help reduce the risk of injury and I hope to do everyone who has supported me proud. Leading up to the run I will also publish more articles on how running has benefited and of course, my overdue book talking about my battle will be launched early summer.