Hello, my name is James and I just wanted to take a few minutes to introduce myself, also share a little bit of my story with you my fellow bears and the running community.
My Mental Health is something that I had not really considered an issue before 2019, I had always kept my feelings of past times and experiences close to my chest. I often dwelled on them and just put on the “I’m Ok” face, now I can say unafraid that I struggle and its OK.
Sometimes it can take a certain event, or a collection of things to really understand that something is happening and in turn do something about it, even without realising a positive change is working.
In September 2018, somebody who I had grown close to and was very fond of ,my wife’s father, passed away. I saw the effects it had on the family and still to this day it never goes away, they just learn to deal with it better. I was never able to shake this and in 2019 I started running on the back of a bet. That bet was that I was unable to complete the potters arf. I had never run before and it was January with the race 6 months away.
It took me a good 4 weeks or so to realise that I needed to run more than a mile, more than once a week!! In February I joined a local club, Go! Team Running Club whose runs were 3 or 6 miles for all abilities and with no pressure attached. They soon became my running family and friends and to this day still have a big place in my heart.
From there I went from strength to strength, my 1st 5k race, Parkrun, my 1st 10k race and just enjoyable running, it all had such a positive effect on my wellbeing.
June came around my 1st Half Marathon, my furthest run had been 10 miles up to this point and my nerves were in full swing. Race day was here and from nowhere I started to soak in the atmosphere and enjoy and at no point did I want to give up! This race had been done to raise money in the memory of my late father in law. The finish was in sight, 2hrs 25 mins later I crossed over! I had done it!!
Most people would have said after it, Never again. I had no idea how I felt I was tired but too much adrenaline to sleep. Monday came and guess what I went for a run, the “Bug” had set in.
I had no aim though this time, so I signed up for Shrewsbury Half in the October and joined forces with AW Running Fitness to get me in position for a PB attempt. I used Parkrun and 10k events and the running club as a platform to achieve my plan objectives and look for PB’s along the way.
In July we got the news that we were going to be Parents to a little baby in February 2020, we were shocked and scared however this motivated me further and my 5k & 10k PB got tumbled in August.
The training continued and early October arrived, and Shrewsbury arrived raring to go with fellow club members I set out with a 2hrs 15 target. The crowd was superb my plan was kind of working and up to mile 8 I was loving it then I started to realise I had been a bit fast. I made a small adjustment and continued, the end was in sight I had done it but a little better than planned, 2hrs 9 mins. I had taken 16 mins off my 1st half time. I was very happy with that and I wanted more.
However, we had our 20-week scan and we discovered that our little boy had a heart problem and after seeing a specialist at Birmingham this was confirmed and our options presented to us. It was scary and it rocked us, but we decided we had to give our buy a chance to succeed in this world.
We carried on as normal and prepared ourselves for the arrival. December/January saw more running and PB attempts with my 10k tumbling to sub 55 at Kidsgrove with February bringing my 5k home at the wammy in 24:20.
This would be my last run for a while as the arrival of Henry would bring emotion unrivalled. Those close to me and who have followed our journey with Henry know that it has been far from easy and dealing with it away from home in the height of the pandemic made it much worse. Henry went through so much and feeling helpless to help him was hard.
I was able to get out running at times in Birmingham and this helped but it wasn’t until August that I really was able to start again properly, Myself and my wife struggled to look beyond what we had seen and been through and it was tough for us.
I have been able to complete a few virtual challenges and the addition of Runr Miles For Mind into my running has really helped. Most importantly the support of friends, and the running community in general has been overwhelming and amazing. You are all amazing.
In December I realised just how tough 2020 had been and that I needed a small break from running to re-focus and get organised for 2021 and what will bring my assault on my 1st Marathon at Loch Ness in October.
My Mental Health has improved by running and admitting that I suffer, I know that the future will bring more hard times with our little boy and in general, but I know now what to do. I also know that the people around me are positive and will always listen.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, If I can leave some advice it would be aimed at everyone. Don’t be afraid to fail, its part of learning, Most importantly remember Its ok Not to be Ok.
Keep talking to each other and Stay Safe everyone.