This past weekend was the first running on the virtual Marathon In A Day (MIAD) event. MIAD was the brainchild of Clare () and Kev () and I must first of all thank Kev for providing me with some great information to help me with my write up. The aims of the event were to support the charity Mind, to make running more accessible and break down the marathon distance into something less scary. Kev and Clare wanted to encourage people to take park in a virtual event that was fun, interesting, different and inclusive, they wanted to get people talking about mental health and supporting each other and boy have they succeeded!!
Runners from across the globe joined together to support the event and each other and a big shout out must go to Melissa Kahn from the fabulous Run Heifer Run community in the USA who galvanised her herd to participate and put in some stunning performances. Some people took on the full distance themselves either all in one go or by breaking the 26.2 miles down into a number of shorter runs throughout a 24 hour period. Many runners though took up the option of joining together and supporting each other in pairs or small teams, a word of thanks must go here to Antony Hughes who took it upon himself to create a giant spreadsheet so that people and the distances they wanted to run could be matched up. Some of these runners actually met up to run the virtual event in real life as it were which I also think is fabulous as it brought people firmly together who otherwise may never have met, friendships have been formed which hopefully will last.
I was paired with Laura () and as I already had 18 miles on my marathon training plan for the weekend I volunteered to bank that for the team with Laura taking on the remainder. It seems like an age passed from signing up until actually taking part but this gave time for a fantastic Twitter group to form, everyone got behind each other, we had plenty of banter, we ribbed Melissa about many things, we created team names and importantly we talked about mental health, everything Kev and Clare wanted to achieve happened and is still carrying on.
I am the first to recognise that I am not good at talking about my mental health. I have experienced some pretty dark times in my life as a result of bullying at school, the loss of relatives in tragic circumstances, the breakdown of a previous marriage and being diagnosed with cancer. I understand when I am low and I have learned to put coping strategies in place, running being one of them, but the group of people I have met through this event have been immensely supportive and I have shared some really personal stuff with them because I felt like they all understood and it was a safe environment for me to express myself, thank you everyone, you have made a real difference for me.
Anyway back to the running. On Friday last week Laura and I hit the streets of our respective neighbourhoods to do our bit. We ran an impressive 26.5 miles in 3 hours 43 mins 14 secs, in the process I ran the furthest I have ever run and Laura ran a 10k PB, needless to say the rest of the weekend included lots of eating and resting. I also did a couple of vlogs as I ran which I have edited together and you can watch here.
MIAD has been a huge success, the original 200 places were massively oversubscribed and Kev and Clare will be putting on another event before the end of the year. The working title for the event is The Run Up to Christmas, plans are currently being finalised, it will again support Mind and will be about people racking up miles during the period of 1st – 24th December, with different rewards for covering different total distances. I would really encourage anyone who hasn’t done a virtual event to get involved. This was my first and while there were no cheering crowds at the end I knew that I had the full support of the online running community, not just in my running but in my wellbeing.
As I ran this evening one of the last songs that came on my MP3 player before I arrived home was Time After Time and one of the lyrics really stuck in my head as being particularly pertinent here. Being able to talk about mental health is hugely important, it should not and must not be stigmatised, everyone should have a forum where they feel safe and supported, it is ok to not be ok, if you are feeling down find people you are happy to talk to and comfortable with and they will listen, whenever, wherever, as the song goes; “if you fall I will catch you, I’ll be waiting, time after time”.