14 August 2019

MoRunning and Me

Last Movember, James ran over 185kms for men's health
Mental Health

Each Movember, thousands of Mo Bros & Mo Sistas make the decision to Move for men’s health, running 60km across the month to raise funds and awareness for the 60 men we lose to suicide every minute around the world. For one Mo Bro, James Martin, it wasn’t enough, and he wanted to go a step further. In fact, thousands of steps further. He had powerful and personal reason to lace up and hit the road, so he made it his mission to hit as many MoRunning events as he could across the country.
"I had my first recognisable brush with depression more than 25 years ago, whilst studying at university, but I just did not understand it at the time. As I look back now, I realise that the symptoms were there. It was 10 years ago that things finally came to a head; that I reached rock bottom, that life changed. I was overwhelmed, my anxiety was off the scale and suicidal thoughts were coming regularly –one sharp turn of the steering wheel on a motorway to another meeting would do it. I was in crisis, a complete breakdown was happening and if things had not changed dramatically, I would not be here now. I count myself very lucky that I had my family, my wife and my sister, who intervened. I genuinely believe they saved my life.
I battled hard for a number of years to recover. I have done talking therapy; I have been on tablets ever since the breakdown; I have tried mindfulness (although unsuccessfully!) and I have even taken up gardening and growing my own fruit and veg. Despite all of this, I did not feel a huge change in my overall mental health. I was flitting from one episode to another and nothing was really changing. Then I rediscovered exercise, and the positive effects that it has had on my mental health have been immense. I played a lot of cricket when I was younger and was reasonably fit, as I was always active; going to the gym, five a side football, squash. You name it, I did it! However, my depression meant that I just lost the drive to do anything, so I gave up exercising and I stagnated.

“I rediscovered exercise, and the positive effects that it has had on my mental health have been immense."

When I was young I didn’t like running, but I soon discovered something; running gave me some headspace, and I discovered my ‘mindfulness’. I found myself switching off completely on the treadmill and just thought about putting one foot in front of the other, as well as not falling over from exhaustion at that stage.
I had found something else...the feeling of success and the added endorphins was brilliant and I felt alive again! I cannot say running has cured my anxiety and depression; if only it were that simple. But I have discovered something that has helped me manage my mental ill health better, given me another coping mechanism and gain some of my old spark back.
Physically I am as fit as I have ever been; I lost all the excess weight that I set out to do at the beginning, and now my children struggle to keep up with me. I guess that is the real success for me of all of this –the physical fitness is brilliant and something that I am proud I have achieved but, in the end, it is simply a positive side effect of my continuing fight and recovery in my battle with mental ill health. Long may I continue to enjoy running rings around my anxiety and depression.
Last Movember, I ran over 185kms for nearly 17 hours, and spoke to everyone I could about men’s health. That has been the most important part for me.”
James now volunteers as an ambassador for Movember, raising funds and awareness for men’s health at work and in the community.
MoRunning is a series of 24 events across the UK, with distances of 5km and 10km, as well as 1.5km for kids. All the runs have chipped timings and this year each runner receives a 10th anniversary MoRunning medal. It’s a great way to hit your Move target for the month.

You can sign up to your local MoRunning event here.