A few months ago at Bedworth we encouraged people to #runandtalk to breakdown the stigma surrounding mental health. We all have our reasons for running, but to lend to this conversation I'll share mine.
parkrun is saving my life.
Yes, that sounds dramatic, but indulge me if you will.
About a year ago, I braved my first parkrun in Bedworth, in the snow. I was slow, and cold, and miserable, but I did it. I kept going, and got to know some people. I started having a coffee, offering a lift, volunteering. People started to recognise me and we would run and talk.
Fast forward to now and for the sake of this report, I'll give you the abridged version. My husband moved to Ireland in November, leaving me solo parenting 3 kiddies (1,3&5) with no other family around. I have always been very open about my struggles with my mental health, but this has been the most lonely, isolating and challenging thing I have ever faced.
The realisation hit me on New Years Eve as I was sharing bottle of prosecco with Graham Norton and his guests, that I may not talk to another adult for a few days. Then I noticed one of the Bedworth core team say she was going to a parkrun event on FB. I had heard of the NYDD (New Year Day Double, the one day of the year, you can register at two runs in the one day), but hadn't had the time to research it (3 kids leaves you very little time to do anything). So in a little bit of stalker fashion, I decided to do the same two New Years Day Runs that the team were doing
I'd never ran with a buggy before, the kids were excited, and I was nervous. New place, about 1000 people, and me and my 3 kids.
I did it, Fionn moaned, but his little face when he crossed the finish line was worth it. The other two enjoyed the ride around the beautiful Sutton Park.
Then it was on to Kingsburry. I wasn't going to go, Fionn was tired, I was tired, but then 500m from the end of the run I saw the Bedworth team, and they asked if I was going. That was it, decision made, now how to make it work. I strapped the baby into the carrier and strapped the older two into the buggy and ran. (Ok, I didn't run, I trudged)
I could hear people questioning my sanity. I was questioning my sanity, but that was when I realised I was doing it for my sanity.
I got back to the car, and as it turned out, amidst the hundreds, I was parked beside the Beduff Massive. One of the girls ran over and gave me a hug and said happy new year. That was the only person I hugged until my husband got back a week later.
That day I made the decision I was going to run. And if the options were to run with the kids or not at all, I guess Ill be running with the kids. There are weeks where if I don't go to parkrun I wont actually speak to anyone I know. So I go, and despite how long it takes to get around everyone is always warm, and welcoming and encouraging. There's always a friendly face, and a chat.
Everyone's parkrun story is different, but I think we can all benefit from a #runandtalk