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Miles For Mind - Matt Hooper

#MilesForMind

Stoked to be asked to be writing a blog post for @runr_uk, and I think the fact I’ve put myself out there to do it is a testament to my new found confidence and attitude which has been gained through my own journey!

Mental health is something which isn’t truly understood, can manifest itself in many forms and everybody displays it differently.

My personal issues stemmed from failed relationships, changes in circumstances and putting myself under too much stress. For me, my release was food, always on my mind, never the right things and always, always too much. Why? Because it was something I could control, something I wasn’t dependent on anyone else for and it made me (at the time) feel better about myself.

It wasn’t until a couple of friends spoke to me about my weight and attending a class that I realised quite how much of a rut I was in (I might add that at my peak I weighed in at almost 26 ½ st). About the same time as joining this group, I started taking parkrun more seriously. This was eye-opening to me! Me, a large lump, running, 5Km……

I wasn’t new to working out as previously played American Football, when it came to parkrun was I by any means the fastest, but the encouragement, support and enthusiastic nature of everyone spurred me to go back, and try and chip away at my times.  Being out and running I felt a sense of freedom, for the 40 or so minutes being out there I was focused on something else, something wholesome – bettering myself.

As time went on, I started to include more running in my schedule, this started to make me feel better, more confident and the negative perceptions I held started to dissipate. The weight was flying off at this point and once the parkrun time was down to about 35 mins I decided to try and up the distance to 10km and joined my local running group! This helped me improve leaps and bounds and again, the support, advice and encouragement they gave and continue to give at both training and races is invaluable.

Why running though? You get that great feeling of accomplishment whenever you finish a run no matter the distance, no matter how fast you go. The only person you are out there trying to beat is yourself and it is this type of healthy competition which turns those negatives into positivity. Knowing you can go out and do a little more each time is what kept me lacing those trainers up.

Running is underestimated as an aid to help beat mental health conditions and this is something which needs to be reversed. I actively encourage everyone who reads this and feels like something is getting you down to speak to someone and give parkrun a try – you’ll never be turned away and never, ever be last!

Over the last 18 months, for that is how long this journey has taken, I’ve lost 12 ½ stone and my 5km time is now under 20 minutes and I’ve just undertaken my first marathon.

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As part of #MilesForMind we want to raise money for Mind and also awareness of mental health issues.

It's OK to have a mental health issue, it's OK to talk about mental health, and it's OK to ask for help.

We firmly believe that running can contribute to a healthy body, and healthy mind and we hope sharing people's stories of mental health and running will inspire others to lace up for better mental health.

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