Mental Health Awareness Month
As October is Mental Health Awareness month, before I dive in to the updates on the 2,020 km Challenge, I wanted to shine a light on the importance of increasing awareness of mental health – especially as I’ve been through a fair share of problems myself .
With longer nights now settling in to the UK, Seasonal Affective Disorder is going to impact many people. Add to that the already existing pandemic, another national lockdown in the UK and isolation/loneliness, well, it’s a tough one for everyone. We need to be there for others and show compassion and caring in these difficult times even more so than before – we’re all struggling.
One of the things I’ve found that helps to burn the energy and rid some of the negative thoughts that build up is exercise. It replaces the bad vibes with endorphins that make us feel good and it’s a natural remedy. Obviously you don’t have to do something extreme, even just going for a walk outside (depending on lockdown rules), indoor workout such as some push ups, a dance to your favourite song, walking on the spot, squats… any thing to get the blood pumping and do it regularly at the same time each day to develop a routine – it will take 21 days for the routine to turn to habit. As long as you get a sweat going and you feel like you’ve done something, that’s great!
Another thing is to reach out to friends and family or call a help line to speak to someone, anyone. Loneliness is horrible and even with the world seemingly being more connected with the internet, it can still feel like a lonely place. Here is a list from the UK NHS of numbers that you can call should you need to – there is no shame in it and when I’ve had to before, it’s just nice that there’s someone that listens without judgement at the other end of the phone.
So the next time you see someone and start thinking they are “odd”, take a moment to realise that you don’t know what they might be going through and there could well be a myriad of problems they aren’t telling you about. Be compassionate, show understanding and acceptance, maybe even reach out to help and be kind, you never know, you could make someone’s day.
2,020 km Challenge
With regards to the 2,020 km challenge, I guess another reason for doing it was due to the enforced exercise it would make me do throughout the year as I know how lack of exercise makes me feel – terrible. Although it was looking bleak at one point with illness and injury striking at various times throughout the year, a strong August and September and suddenly things were looking pretty good!
With the clocks gone back now, I’m going to have to re-schedule my activities in the day and set the alarm clock earlier to squeeze a run in the morning whilst it’s still light. Alternatively, I could go all guns blazing at lunch time during work! Whatever it takes to get over the finish line! So what is this challenge all about?
At the beginning of the year, I was talking with some friends about a potential challenge of getting to 2,020km in 2020 by a combination of running and hiking to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society (United Against Dementia). Considering I’ve not done anywhere near half this distance when training for marathons, it seemed like a step (or steps) too far! Nonetheless I dived in and am giving it a jolly good go! Here’s the full criteria of the challenge:
- Total distance: 2,020 km / 1,255 miles in 2020
- Hiking: “cross-country” or “cross-terrain” walking
- Running: putting one leg in front of the other quickly
- Daily required distance: 5.52 km / 3.45 miles per day
At the end of each month, I give a run down of how it’s all progressing by analysing those stats from one of my many beautiful spreadsheets! Let’s check them out 😃
The evenings are drawing in, the weather is getting progressively worse, my legs are literally ON their last legs… this is going to be a case of mind over matter now! Thankfully I’ve been able to still meet up with my brother and friends outside with the “rule of 6” lockdown rules which has helped motivation and they’ve powered me through some of the aches and pains from the challenge.
The landscape looks a lot different now with the Autumn colours. There’s a beautiful orange, yellow and red tint on the hikes and runs which keeps the mind occupied away from the actual hikes and runs themselves! Now with the challenge getting close to the end, I am no longer thinking in terms of km remaining but rather “days remaining” haha!
From September’s monster effort, the target now is to keep the daily required distance (the red line in the graph), less than 5 km per day and, ultimately, squash that little critter all the way down to 0! A long weekend with a couple of days off work and getting back in to running a bit more has helped chip away at the target and I’m very much liking the trend as that red line goes down. However, one rest day now adds on a LOT to that red line as we get closer to the end!
Even though the gap has opened up to a nice position now, I’m still wary, particularly with the pandemic that anything can happen. Nothing is certain in this life and, although I’m so happy with the progress of the challenge, I’m not out of the woods yet (no pun intended)! It does mean that the runs don’t need to be as pounding at least but keeping injury and illness free for the next 61 days is going to be key – just over 250 km to go now, let’s see how all the stats add up!
Completed, km (%)
|Should Be At,|
As I wasn’t expecting to make massive inroads in October, I’m happy that I’ve managed to get an additional 3 km more on where I need to be from the table when compared to September with about a 75 km lead. However, the progress is more staggering in the graph with the average daily required still heading in the downward direction and could potentially breach the 4 km per day line in November as I edge towards that 2,020 km target!
It’s quite surreal how that graph is almost perfectly symmetrical isn’t it?! Let’s look at the activity count and breakdown what contributed to the distance count:
|Month||Runs (%)||Hikes (%)||Active Days||Total Days|
Now that there’s less light in the evenings to get the hikes in after work and the weather is turning progressively worse, the number of runs has now taken the lead again for the first time since March and the tally is now over 100 for the year! It’s been a long time since I did that and I’m not sure I did 100 training runs for my first marathon in 2009!
The pace of the runs though is quick for me – I’m averaging 7:30 minutes per mile (about 4:40 per km) – maybe I can get under 20 minutes for a 5 km run by the end of the year too! Let’s have a look at the distance contributed per activity:
|Month||Distance by Running (%)||Distance by Hiking (%)||Total Distance|
|1,117.61 km |
Well, the 200 km club membership was never going to last and so keeping up with the average for the most part is what was needed – pretty happy with October’s contribution, now we’re in the final two months. If I can get the remaining 262 km wrapped up before Christmas, that would be grand but we have November to get through now and a month long lockdown, we shall see!
I’m aiming to raise as much as I can for the Alzheimer’s Society, which is dedicated to researching, supporting and caring for families affected by dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.
This is a debilitating condition that slowly erodes the brain, affecting memory, awareness, personality and ability to communicate. Simply put, it’s horrible for both the patient and family and my Nana suffered from it in her final years so the motivation for me is as strong as it has been to do this challenge.
I have set up a Just Giving page here where you can donate and the money goes straight to the charity. Thank you to everyone who’s supported this and let’s get to that target of £2,020 together hey!
If you have Strava, feel free to encourage or banter with me on there – here’s a link to my profile! My activities also are now linked to the Justgiving page to track progress, it’s a shame I only found out about that in July…oh well!
Until next month’s report, take it easy and catch you soon!