It is a phrase that has often been said, running saved my life. A dramatic statement and at risk of becoming a cliché, but how much truth can there be in it, can running save your life?
Over recent weeks I have given it a lot of thought. I’ve talked about mental health before on this blog and it is an issue close to my heart that in my view cannot be talked about enough. The past year or so has been hard personally, a relationship breakdown and health problems gave me a mental battering. Some days have been really dark, I’m not ashamed to admit that I became really scared for the future at times and totally lost my way for a while. The one thing that somehow managed to remain constant through it all was my need to get out and run. Yes there were days when I was exhausted and my enthusiasm waned, but thankfully these days were few and far between.
What running gave me in those days and continues to do is an escape and a focus. Get out of the house and into the world. The summer fell races around here have quite honestly been my saviour. They are so frequent that you can be easily be out of the house a couple of times a week or more if you want to. I lace up my trainers and for the next couple of hours leave my troubles to one side. After having been on the circuit for a couple of years or so now, I also genuinely look forward to seeing some great friends there too. We meet up, race, hug, cry, laugh and just catch up. This year in particular has been great and I have appreciated every single one of those mad fell runners who have helped make these events so special.
After a particularly disastrous race at Crich a couple of weeks ago when I was feeling really low, everyone was overwhelming lovely. The ladies who are my rivals rallied around with hugs and kind words when they could see I was struggling. Rivals and friends, the true definition of sportsmanship. We race and compete but we care when it all goes wrong. It really is the friendliest sport. The next week at another race a lady who had seen my meltdown said those words to me when describing some of her own struggles, “running saved my life, literally” and I believed her. Another friend through social media has also described how he took up running to get fit after suffering a cardiac arrest and how it’s totally changed his life. Someone else again described how he relies on it to help him cope with his anxieties and depression from trauma suffered in the army. Sometimes it is simply the actual act of getting out there and getting those endorphins flowing which helps. But sometimes it is just getting out of those 4 walls and sharing an evening with some fantastic people. It is so easy to hide away from the world when everything gets too much, but I have learnt it is the absolute worst thing you can do.
So this post is dedicated to all those wonderful people, happy runners across the country pulling each other out of the mud and patting each other on the back. Words of encouragement, jokes and banter. Shared pain and shared glory. You may not realise it at the time, but you could be helping to save someone’s life.
Happy running x