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The Longest Race
Leggings check. Baggy T-shirt check. Shoes on. Mind made up. I was about to do my first C25K run. In the dark amongst the trees, obviously, because if I am seen everyone will laugh at the state of me running. One-minute running, one-minute walking. How was it such a struggle? How will I get through the programme if I can't run for one minute? Am I broken? Do I need to have long legs to be able to run? All this self-doubt was worth it for the end result. I had finished my first run and I felt incredible. A feeling I hadn't felt since my son was born. 

This wasn't my first run. The thing I didn't realise is that I had been running for a very long time in my life. Running away from the fleeting thoughts in my head. Running away from the darkness that was threatening to drown me at any moment. All masked by smiles and jokes. No one around me noticed that everything was falling apart around me. 

No ball of wool is limitless, eventually there is nothing left to unravel. I couldn't go on being this way. I couldn't do nothing and accept that this was the way of life. I couldn't keep running away, flirting with disaster. Eight years of hiding was about to be over; the longest race I have ever completed was finally coming to an end. 

I found the courage to have the hardest conversation of my life. Fortunately, my GP was very patient and understanding as I struggled to get the words out that needed to be spoken for the past eight years. I as put on medication and offered counselling through work and over time I could see the finish line I thought would never come. 

Both runs in my life have got easier. I'm still on medication and adding running into my routine helps me. I progressed from one minute of running to being able to run 5K several times a week. I have taken part in races and joined parkrun. I'm not the best runner in the world. I am normally near the bottom of the results table and that's OK. The feeling after a run is always worth it. 

If you are thinking about doing your first C25K run, just get up and do it. You won't regret it and even though you run further as you go through the programme it does get easier. No one is laughing at you. Think about people that you have seen running. Do you laugh at them or admire them? Anyone you see in the street you tend to forget about them as soon as you have gone past them. The hardest part is getting started and out the door. 

If anyone has any questions about mental health or running, feel free to send me a message on Instagram @stephlouisefitness 

If you would like to donate to Mind or share my page then my donation page is justgiving.com/fundraising/100milesformind 

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