I’ve signed up for this year’s Cardiff 10K, and what’s better, I’ve managed to convince Emma to do it with me!
I did it for the first time in September last year – it was actually my first distance running event of any kind. I didn’t realise when I registered that the race was actually on our first anniversary…oops! (Don’t’ worry, I didn’t forget our anniversary. I thought the race was on a different date!) No such bad luck this year, it’s on the day before.
I didn’t have any plans to do Cardiff 10K again this year, but a combination of my never-ending desire to finally lose some weight, my mental health, and my annual three hours feeling inspired watching the London Marathon – which my brother completed for the first time, raising over £2,000 for St. David’s Hospice – sparked an idea that Emma and I should do it together.
Last year I ran for Kidney Wales, raising nearly £600 with my colleagues. This time around, Emma and I thought that if we were to run together, we should both raise money for one charity. Kidney Wales is an amazing charity, doing amazing things for people with kidney disease; as harrowing it was, I was fortunate enough to spend the day with four of their patients last year learning about their conditions, and I was honoured to raise money for them.
However, it’s not a charity that is close to home. Given my recent mental health problems, we have decided to run for Mind, the mental health charity that “won’t give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets the support and respect they deserve”.
Anyway, I wanted to break down some of the reasons why I’m running the Cardiff 10K again this year.
Running for my body
Since running Cardiff 10K last year, I’ve probably run three or four times. And since Raife was born in November, I’ve barely exercised at all. He’s nearly six months old!
I didn’t take training all that seriously last year. I didn’t change my diet a huge amount and I went about two months without running during the summer. Despite that, I got in okay shape. Not brilliant, but considering my (very) laid-back approach to running further and more often than I ever have before, I was pretty happy.
With planning, I want to take training and my diet a lot more seriously this time around, with the view of being in a much better place physically throughout the year.
Running for my mind
I’ve mentioned it a few times in this post already, but last week I told everyone about how I’ve been struggling with mental health and depression for the past few months.
I already know that exercise plays a HUGE part in not only maintaining positive mental health but improving it. Last year I felt great, and I’m sure running outside for 30-60 minutes three times a week (some of the time!) played a considerable part in that.
Where we live is ideal for running. The canal runs for miles, it’s quiet, away from cars and traffic, it provides lovely views. Even taking a walk along it is enough to make anyone feel a bit better, so couple that with the exercise benefits, and you’ve got a no-brainer.
Running for Raife (lifestyle)
Emma and I have spoken several times about our plans for Raife to have an active childhood; football, rugby, tennis, running, hiking, climbing – we want him to try as many things as possible to find something he loves.
But for him to have an active childhood (and as he gets older and becomes an adult), we know we need to lead by example. I want a healthy, active lifestyle to be the norm for Raife. I don’t want him to be getting a bit older and his norm to be seeing his mum and dad sat on the sofa every night and on the weekend, with his Dad getting more and more overweight.
So running Cardiff 10K, training for it, and being more active, is partly about establishing that positive, active lifestyle before Raife becomes aware of it.
Time together as a couple is so important when you’ve got a baby. We went from being the most important person in each other’s lives for several years to suddenly coming second best, with little time to spend together. And it’s probably something Emma and I haven’t done enough of since Raife came along.
As I mentioned, we’ve been talking about doing something active together for a little while. It gives us time together as a couple while exercising and improving our health. So I’m really excited to get running, spending time with my wife, doing something we’ve never done together before.
One in four people in the UK will experience some form of mental health problems during their lifetime, ranging from anxiety, depression, OCD and PTSD to bipolar, antisocial personality disorder, psychotic disorder and more.
Just think about that for a minute. Think of three people you know, three of your closest family members. At least you of them will have a mental health problem at some point in your lives.
One in five people in the UK have suicidal thoughts. Let that sink in. Think of four of your closest family members. The chances are at least one of you will have suicidal thoughts at some point in your life.
Over three-quarters of suicides in the UK are men. And it is the single biggest killer of men under the age of 35.
The work Mind does to support those with mental health problems, no matter how mild or extreme, is vital. Not only do they get people the help they need to start the road to recovery, and even stop them taking their own lives, they support people to cope with their everyday lives. Life is tough enough as it is, and the added pressure of dealing with a mental health problem can make it so much harder. Mind doesn’t just help people to cope with life, but empower them, as well.
I actually really enjoyed it
For all the really serious and important reasons I’m running Cardiff 10K again this year, my final one is that I actually really enjoyed the whole experience last year.
Anyone who knows me personally will know I’m not a runner. I never have been. I would always prefer to go on a 30 mile bike ride than a 5K run when I was a bit younger. And carrying a
few lot of extra pounds made running 10K a real challenge for me. When I started training, I could barely run for more than one minute at a time through tiredness or needing my asthma pump. I thrived on the challenge of progressing – firstly, running for longer periods without walking or stopping, and then to improve my times.
Then came the day itself. Thousands of people coming together – all shapes, all sizes – doing something to raise money for charity. The people on the streets cheering you on. The runners giving each other some a pat on the back and motivation to keep going. It was just a brilliant experience. And I can’t wait to do it again.
Every Monday, I’ll be updating you on our training and the more active/physical side of my life. So keep an eye out for that!
We’re aiming to raise £300 each for Mind, and we’d really appreciate any donation you can spare, no matter how small. You can find my JustGiving page here. (Emma hasn’t created hers, but I’ll be sure to share that as well as soon as it’s ready!)