I wanted to write a blog to sum up how running has helped shape my mindset and helped me to deal with the challenges and obstacles life throws at you.
I took up running seriously just over 10 years ago. Initially I started running to keep fit whilst away on business, first on the treadmill in the gym. I quickly realised I am a very competitive person and each week it became about doing longer distances and trying to get faster. I soon realised that if I wanted to run further then I’d have to head outdoors, as, for me, running on the treadmill became a bit like running on the dreadmill 😊.
Distances increased and I signed up for half marathons and then in 2010 I signed up for my first marathon. I am now addicted to running and do a marathon ever year, and am doing 2 this year. I completed Manchester in early April and will take part in New York later this year.
Whilst I have realised the fitness benefits I had hoped to achieve, I also reflect on my running and realise that whilst building a stronger, fitter body, I have also built a stronger and better mind that helps me deal with anything that life will throw at me. This has been particularly evident in the past year as my wife has gone through diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer. This is obviously not an easy situation to deal with, however I wanted to be there as a positive support for my wife, and running helped me to do this.
I find it’s too easy for your mind to get caught up and filled with negative thoughts and stress, and getting outdoors and running gives me the space to think, put things in perspective and also clear my mind of unwanted or negative thoughts. Exercise feeds my mind with positive energy and thoughts, and I find I am far more able to have a good day if I have been out on a run. The joy of being out doing something you love and giving you some clear time away to think, helps you then come back in a positive frame of mind ready to tackle the day.
My favourite event is the marathon as for me that teaches you a lot about your own mindset and gives you some valuable tools to draw on when needed. For me, the marathon has taught me a few things:
1) That I am very focussed and determined and if I say I am going to do something, then I will do it. This is evident in that I set myself a training plan and goal and use that to drive me
2) That when things get tough I don’t shy away and give up. This is evident in the last 6 miles of a marathon, particularly this year at Manchester. I hit the “Wall” and whilst my body said stop, my mind said “No, you haven’t trained this hard to stop now”.
3) That to achieve something in life you want you need to work hard a persevere
I think every run I do teaches me something and gives me something back, and whilst some people think I’m mad to run as much as I do, I have a clear reason why I do it and fully understand the mental and physical benefits it gives me.
My message to everyone is this, never give up on your goals, if you commit to it and believe in it then you will do it. You have to train hard and long and the hard work will pay off over time, it’s a marathon not a sprint after all!! Next stop for me now is the New York marathon in November this year and I will be out training for that from July onwards, in the meantime I am ticking over with running fuelling my positive mindset every day.
Thanks to Jon for sharing his story and you can follow him on twitter - @strongjon #MentalHealthMatters