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Running Has Completely Changed Our Life by Ben

I began running in the latter part of 2017. I had an early midlife crisis and decided that I needed to do something about my weight and lifestyle.

I was in my 30th year, about to welcome my second child into the world, my eating was out of control and I tipped the scales at just over 16 stone. I lacked personal confidence, I hated seeing pictures of myself and knew I was setting a poor example of health and wellbeing to my family. This more than simply losing weight, a change of outlook and lifestyle was needed.

This was about more than my personal health and wellbeing, it was the health and wellbeing of my whole family at stake. I returned home from holiday and found a local gym running early morning bootcamp sessions, my fitness journey began with fear and trembling.

I was the among the slowest people to complete sets, I was among the last people back from any runs but I was part of a community of people who wanted me to succeed. My gains were quick and before I knew it my weight was dropping and my fitness increasing. I was very quickly at the front of the pack and the one people were looking up to during sessions. The surprise in it all was the increase in my own mental wellbeing. It was always a fight to get out of bed for the 6am sessions, but I never regretted a session and found my mood and outlook improving. After a couple of months I wanted to supplement sessions with more exercise and decided running was the simplest thing I could do. Before long running became my favourite form of exercise and slowly replaced the bootcamp sessions as I became more focused and aimed to run my first half marathon.

Our second son arrived in December 2017, and he did so with a bang. He was born at home before the midwives arrived and continued to turn our world upside down from that point. Without knowing it, I had slipped into a form of paternal post natal depression. I had nothing to give and wanted to crawl into a hole, forget the world and never get up again. I resented our second child for the stress he was causing me personally and the pressure he was putting us under as a family. I spent so much time bursting into tears and was surviving at work by the skin of my teeth.

I was no use to Catrin at home and had become more of a burden than a help. The only thing in my life that gave me any sense of worth, completion and joy was running. Getting out in the fresh air and training kept me just on the edge of the deep pit I feared falling in. Running became my medication. Running was no longer a means for losing weight and gaining fitness, it was a life saving, essential activity. Running has continued to be my time to process my struggles and celebrate my joys. Training for events gives me a sense of completion and achievement that work and family life are rarely able to provide. Being a runner has gained me entry into a wonderful community of people who support and encourage me each day.

I ran my first half marathon and have gone on to run 4 full marathons and several shorter distance races. My aim is to run 2 marathons a year from now on. I have lost 4 stone in weight and have maintained that weight loss. All of those achievements pale into insignificance in light of the benefit running has had on my health and the health of my family. My boys are desperate to run with me and my eldest recently completed his first mile with me. It may sound corny but running has completely changed our life.

Running is as good for the body as it is for the mind and the soul. Running is a lifeline and a life giver and that is why I am proud to be supporting Miles for Mind this year and have pledged to run 125 miles.

Twitter: @benjamin_lines

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