December 2019 – Part 2

Well I haven’t been writing much of late and my last blog really sparked lots of great conversation so I thought that while I’m on my Christmas break, my wife is unfortunately at work and I’ve just got the kids in bed after a marathon day of Mario on the Nintendo that I should give a quick update on my recent blog and also write a little about the running I’ve been up to.

I had many comments regarding my last post, I think many were shocked about how open I was but if this is to work for me and I am able to help others it has to be open and honest. It has helped me tremendously just getting it out there and to see not just how out of touch that negative inner voice is but also just how many others that appear super strong to me also have the exact same thoughts and anxieties. I’m going to try and not listen to any negative thoughts provoked by social media, things are taken out of context, people may just not see your posts and some actually may just not like me, but hey if I try and please everyone out there it’ll make me a very lonely and busy person and in reality it’s also impossible. I shall keep to my running blogs but on my personal profile I shall post minimal stuff and nothing that will cause negativity such as politics etc, I think if you are going to have a healthy discussion about stuff like that it needs to be face to face or not at all. Going into 2020 I want to fill my life with more positivity too, gone will be any that try to drag me down through jealousy and/or spite, no one needs that in their life.

I’m hoping 2020 will be a big turning point for me, mentally this past year I have become so much stronger, I started 2019 in a bad place, having had a breakdown and 6 weeks off of work, I’ve ended up completing 2 marathons, 28 miles of a 35 mile ultra, two 20 mile races, a 100 mile bike ride, a marathon challenge weekend and battled some demons to do a bit of open water swimming. That’s just out of work, in work I am doing well too, I start back in a new position in finance and will be taking on 3 years of study to become a chartered accountant. I started work with my current company 5 years ago stacking shelves, before that I had done some limited retail management but had spent 9 years driving a dustcart, at one time I thought that is what I would do for the rest of my life. Nothing wrong with being a dustman but I am growing every year apart from a few hiccups along the way and I once really thought I was a bit thick so for me this is a fantastic achievement working alongside university graduates, me just a mere mortal that didn’t even go to college and had hardly any GCSEs to my name. It’s great working for such a supportive company with great management that have supported me and guided me along seeing something in me I hadn’t. I do need to make sure I don’t take life too seriously though, someone told me the other day that I had lost the “bouncy Tigger” I had about me, I need to bring that back and lighten up.

I will continue to write about my achievements, I’ve had reassurance it’s not just bragging and I’ve had many people tell me that my writing has inspired them, one lady told me this from her hospital bed where she is suffering from Crohn’s Disease and severe anxiety and has said I have inspired her to get healthy and get her trainers back on. That is the kind of thing I aim to do with this blog is to give hope to others and show them that you can beat mental illness if you try, it takes time, this journey for me has taken me from the age of around 21, I’m now 42. But on that journey I felt alone for much of it, I felt embarrassed and mental health had way too much stigma. If I knew others felt like me and that they found light at the end of the tunnel it may have helped me overcome this sooner. I’m not at the end of the road yet either, I still have a way to go to master my mind and be totally in control of it, the running really helps this though as I believe 80% of achieving a physical challenge is in the mind, by training my body to be stronger I am training my mind too.

So, to a bit of running, I have mentioned earlier that looking back I have achieved more than I ever thought possible, I was awarded runner of the year for the second year running in my speed group at my local running club, not bad seeing I have only been running for 3 years! I did have a failure though, I DNF’d (did not finish) on my first attempt at an ultra marathon (an ultra is anything over 26.2 miles), in 2020 I am going to run that race again, more mentally prepared, fitter and armed with more knowledge that I have been given by club mates and by reading books. This year I will beat it!!

Currently after a hectic year I am having a well earned break, stuffing my face with mince pies and putting on weight, in the new year I am taking part in REDJanuary, it’s a charity event for Mind Charity where you pledge to run or be physical every day in January to help raise money for Mind and to promote the benefits or running for good mental health, it’s free to sign up so come and join me.

One new tool in my training armoury this year will be Zwift, for those that haven’t heard of it it’s a way of using a treadmill with a sensor attached to your shoe to power an avatar in a virtual world and run or train with others from all over the world from the comfort of your own home if you are lucky enough to own a treadmill, or from the gym. To find out more just do a Google search and there is loads of info to get you started. I tried it for the first time today as I woke with a cold and didn’t want to go out on my planned social trail run and risk making myself worse for the new year, I was probably just being a little lazy too! I was totally impressed with it, there are some great training workouts that you are guided through and they adjust to your capability too so they are always pushing you just enough to become stronger every session, also there are various fun and social runs you can join too, some are even attended by stars such as Mo Farah!

Well that’s it for now and I promise to try and write more often next year and share the highs and lows of my training and of life as I take on more personal challenges. I hope I inspire some of you too and I would love for you to share with me your success stories, feel free to contact me on my social media or drop me an email or PM.

I wish you all the best for the new year and for you to get out there and join me in running from that black dog and getting both physically and mentally stronger!

All the best, Gav.

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