running from depression

2015 has seen me return to depression. That’s not a word I use often or lightly. It’s a word that has all manner of negative connotations that I don’t like to be associated with. It’s a word that maybe forces me to admit I’m not on top of things and I can’t cope! It is though just a word and shouldn’t be classed as a ‘dirty word’ at that. My depression does not come clinically diagnosed, it’s just a personal recognition that I’m returning to a previous state in my life where I was on a road to self-destruction. A time where I was very overweight, suffering from severe sleep apnoea, lacking in confidence, smoking, not motivated, grumpy(er), a victim rather than master of my destiny. I was physically very unhealthy and my mental state reflected this. I’m still not sure whether mental health is the cause of poor physical health or if poor physical health equates to a decline in mental health but I do know for me they are inextricably linked.

When I started to run back in February 2011 I wasn’t aware I was starting out on a long journey which would turn my life around. It sounds overly dramatic but it’s true. Since that first awful 1 mile run, I’ve (at my best) dropped over 5.5 stone in weight, cured myself of sleep apnoea, run marathons, achieved more at home and work (got promoted), kicked the smoking habit and have generally enjoyed life much more. It’s also had massive positive effects on people I care deeply about.

I’m not sure I’ll ever end up in that place again but in the last year I’ve seen some worrying signs – my running mileage over the year is possibly my lowest recorded, my weight is on the rise, I’m smoking, I’m constantly frustrated and/or worrying about work and not able to leave it at the door, my sleep quality is poor, my mood swings erratic and I’m generally feeling pretty crappy.

Life is not about backwards steps it’s about moving forwards so I’m stopping the rot here and now! 2016 is the return of the running man and a happier me.

I’m forcing myself back on the run. I’m putting my physical and mental health near the top of the priority list. Sometimes work, friends and family will suffer but in the long term I’m more useful to all fit and happy than I am fat and miserable.

To keep me from straying far from the path I’ve decided to run 12 half marathons in 2016. Yup not one or two but 12. Pretty much 1 every month. When I was running fit I always found 13.1 miles a relatively safe distance, one that doesn’t require too many training hours (my schedule is no lighter in 2016) but it feels like a sense of accomplishment when you’re done. It will though require a constant and steady commitment to fitness or I’ll fail. I don’t like failing. The distance allows for quicker recovery than a marathon and there are plenty of interesting events to choose from (both trail and road) in scenic locations which make them an enjoyable experience rather than just a race against the clock or a battle of endurance (cos I ain’t that quick or strong). I’m not anywhere close to being half marathon ready so the first one in a few weeks will be a very rough experience. I’ll train, learn and get better as the year goes on.

I’ve booked and paid for the first 7 out of the 12 events as a commitment to myself that I will complete the task I have set out however hard it may get. I’m stubborn like that. The remaining 5 I plan on booking next month once I’ve replenished the bank account. In sharing this here on my blog I feel like I’m also in some way going to look like a completely lame arsed tinker if I don’t get this done. So please check in for progress and give me a hard time if you feel I’m slacking.

For those interested the events I’m going for are listed below, they’ve mainly been selected based on when and where they run. Although I’m happy to commit to training and running I didn’t want to be abandoning my family 12 weekends out of the year so I’ve kept them all in the south west to keep the logistics simple.

1. Feb – Blackmore Vale Half Marathon
2. Feb – Heartbreaker Half (New Forest)
3. Mar – Weymouth Half Marathon
4. Apr – Exmoor CTS Half Marathon
5. May – Hard Way Half Portland
6. Jun – Cheddar Gorge Challenge (half)
7. Jul – Dorset Invader Half Marathon
8. Aug – TBC Sturminster Half
9. Sep – TBC New Forest Half Marathon
10. Oct – TBC Bournemouth Half Marathon
11. Nov – TBC Bath Hilly Half
12. Dec – TBC Dorset CTS Half

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