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23 Feb 2022

Why is David running a 10K every month for charity?

David hated running growing up but, after doing a Couch to 5K, he found he had a new passion. Now, he’s running a 10K race every month this year with a goal to reach £2,022 for charity.

Most of us will have a to-do list but it’s probably nothing like David’s for 2022. He’s planning on running around the country, taking on 10K races in London, Brighton, Edinburgh, Exeter and Swansea to name but a few locations on his itinerary.

So why is running such a big part of David’s life and why has he chosen to support SANE as his main charity? He explains, “I got into running as one way of improving my wellbeing, I’ve been doing that for a while on and off but often felt when I was running it was a shame not to raise money too.”

David - SANE fundraiser

Supporting SANE

“I chose SANE for a number of reasons. Firstly, I was really impressed by the way the charity works. SANE genuinely does care and that comes through in the way they communicate online, on the website or even keeping in touch about fundraising. It’s very human, and that matters to me.”

“The range of support offered means you can access as much or as little as you need. The Textcare service, work with young people in particular and the Black Dog Campaign really break down barriers and cross into workplaces in relevant and meaningful ways.”

Considering what everyone has been though over the last couple of years, why in particular is mental health awareness so important to David?

“I’ve always been someone that thought you ought to be ‘self-sufficient’, I think that was part of my upbringing (and nothing wrong with that). Something started to unravel for me in my 30s, which I think was a point at which I suddenly had time to think rather than just ‘do’. I reached a point where my internal ‘resilience’ which I always called on in difficult periods, just wasn’t there anymore. I’d used that up.”

David reached out for help as he continues, “I was lucky. I had the money to be able to find and pay for an excellent therapist who I still talk to regularly. For the first time I had someone who could challenge what was in my head and the way I thought – without all the constraints of being family or friend.”

Destigmatising mental health

A great way to assist people to open about their mental health struggle is to help to destigmatise mental health through talking. That’s what David believes. “It’s important to me that people know this is a common experience. I’ve worked in management roles for a long time now too, and quite often I think people forget, your boss might be having a hard time too and there’s nothing wrong with them letting you in on that sometimes. It’s human.”

Depression can manifest is different ways to different people. For David, this is how it happened. “I spent a lot of time being busy. Being busy meant I didn’t have time to think, because I felt when I wasn’t busy I was wasting time. Wasting time is bad, that spiralled into depression.”

“I know people often think depression is about not being able to do anything, and I have had periods like that too, but I think it can also become a kind of permanent exhaustion – a need to feel and be useful – that’s ultimately self-defeating.”

Running to improve wellbeing and mental health

A lot of research has been done to observe the relation between regular exercise and one’s physical and emotional wellbeing. One particular article breaks down the phenomenon of runner’s high and other effects running has on the brain. It says that regular exercise can have benefits such as elevated mood. See The Truth Behind ‘Runner’s High’ and Other Mental Benefits of Running.

“Exercise has a dramatic antidepressive effect. It blunts the brain’s response to physical and emotional stress.”

David J. Linden, Professor of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

David is testimony that running regularly has had a positive impact on his mental health. “Many of us spend long time facing a computer at the office or at home, or sit and watch TV for long hours rather than making some time for exercising.”

“I hated running growing up. I did Couch to 5K, and enjoyed it, then started to do more. I am never going to be an amazing runner, but personally I don’t want to run further (though faster may be nice!). Running gives me a break. Whilst exercising, I like to listen to music or a podcast, which helps me feel like I am doing something ‘useful’ with my time.”

Why not try walking?

David - SANE fundraiser

Making time to do some exercise is easier than we think. David has managed that really well, as he continues, “I have a job where I can make part of my commute a walk – it gives me an hour each day where I walk and listen to music or even use the time to call friends and family whom I haven’t spoken to for a while. I used to take the Tube as it was quicker but now I always walk, whatever the weather, because that’s my time.”

Why don’t you give it a try? Perhaps you’ll feel like David does after some exercise: “I always feel better after a run or walk. More alert, fresher. Often still singing along to the music I’ve had on… in my head though… not out loud, people don’t deserve that!”

David has used his newfound love of exercising to support people affected by mental illness and wants to encourage others to support SANE. “I know many people end up exercising because it helps their mental health so it seems a shame not to raise some funds at the same time!

“I know I’m lucky to be in a position where I could find some help and afford to pay for it. I wasn’t at a crisis point, and was able to do something in time, with support from others. Not everyone can do that. So, even if you aren’t fundraising a small donation can make all the difference. Finally, if you’re in a role where you can support workplace wellbeing – you can support SANE just by raising awareness of who they are, what they do, and why they’re deserving of your support.

Thank you David, for helping to destigmatise mental health and for helping people with mental illness through your amazing commitment!

“I always feel better after a run or walk. More alert, fresher. Often still singing along to the music I’ve had on… in my head though… not out loud, people don’t deserve that!”

David, SANE supporter

If you’re inspired by David’s commitment to helping people affected by mental illness, you can support his fantastic fundraising by going to his JustGiving page.

To find out how you can get involved, see our Challenge Events and sign-up to your own adventure today!

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