This year I have started doing something that I have never done before: running. I run three times a week and I’ve started with a training programme that can apparently guide me from my sofa to easily running 5km in 8 weeks. Believe me, that is quite a challenge as I have never managed more than a stop-start 5km jog – and that was long before having children slowed me down.
In fact, I was once introduced to someone who said “Bee Roycroft? You’re the girl who can’t run”. Despite this inauspicious start, so far it is going quite well. The snow and ice have been a bit challenging, but I run along the canal path from Great Bedwyn and never tire of the view. At this time of year it really feels as though the countryside is beginning to slowly wake up – although the day when horizontal sleet was blowing into my face was not the best…
The reason behind this sudden burst of exercise is that in September I will be running the Berlin Marathon. All 26.2 miles of it.
At the moment it might as well be two thousand miles as I can barely manage two miles without running out of puff. But I am determined to see it through and if the snow stays away I might just get there. Roll on balmy summer days when there is no danger of slipping on ice.
My determination is strengthened by the charity that I am running to raise money for: the Mental Health Foundation. I’m sure I am not alone in seeing friends and family struggle with a whole variety of mental health issues. From dementia to depression, the challenge of mental health seems to be getting tougher every day.
One in four people in the UK will suffer from a mental health issue this year, and by 2025 there will be one million people in the UK with dementia. The MHF supports research into mental illness, something which has been woefully neglected, and also looks at ways of helping sufferers and their families cope with their condition.
Taking up running seems to be making a positive impact on my own mental health. Not only am I doing it to support something that I really, really care about, but it is giving me an enormous amount of satisfaction. I feel buoyant and awake, rather than sluggish and grey as one often does in the dark days of February.
I had my third baby in September and running has been a godsend in getting life back to normal after the rigours of pregnancy and new born chaos. Granted, I am still very slow and I’ve yet to manage 3 miles so 26.2 feels Herculean but so far so good and as the weather turns warmer I’m hoping it will only get easier.
One obvious beneficiary of my new athleticism is my dog, a two-year-old yellow Labrador who is a very enthusiastic companion on my runs. He thinks the whole thing is a great lark and always looks disappointed when we turn for home. As well as aiming to complete the Berlin Marathon I also have my own personal challenge – which is to see if I can ever tire him out…