Mind is proud to be teaming up with R.E.D January as their official charity partner for January 2018.
Not only is R.E.D (Run Every Day) January a brilliant way to kick-start the New Year, but in taking part ‘REDders’ are helping to raise awareness and open up the conversation about mental health. Every penny raised will fund Mind’s vital work such as the Mind Infoline, their information & advice service, as well as the campaigning Mind do to make sure everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets the support and respect they deserve.
It costs Mind £6 to answer one call to the Mind Infoline, their expert helpline for anyone needing advice and support about mental health problems.
I’ve wanted to fundraise for Mind Charity for quite some time, it’s a charity hugely close to my heart. As someone who suffers from generalised anxiety I’m hugely appreciative of the work Mind do, I’ve also witnessed the impact mental health problems have on those I love in recent years & the difficult road to recovery. After a failed attempt to get onto the Mind team for the London Marathon (maybe next year) this seemed like a fantastic challenge.
As someone who has only ever managed a run streak of a mammoth 2 days you would think I would be more daunted but a) my good friend Sarah was doing the challenge too & b) I have a habit of throwing myself into a challenge & then thinking about how it can be achieved. The picture above is from New Years Day when me & Sarah completed a double ParkRun. The first one was fine however the weather turned sour in the second run & I distinctly remember saying to Sarah I couldn’t feel my face! The first week went quite well, it was a real novelty & work was quite quiet so didn’t feel too difficult in getting out.
Unfortunately the first weekend I came down with a bug, it wasn’t flu but was a terrible cold virus all the same. I had to drop out of a friends milestone ParkRun but was still conscious I needed to get out so did do a 3 mile run that same afternoon. I should have just done a mile as was so poorly, the next two days I could only manage half a mile on the treadmill. I felt terrible but didn’t want to give up on the challenge, as I said before the charity means a lot to me & I would have kicked myself if I had stopped. I’m a stubborn old thing!
Week 2 was tough but I started to feel better despite having what sounded like a 50 a day smokers cough & a streaming nose which refused to let up. Apart from a couple of lonesome treadmill runs I was able to get out with friends on different days & it’s no secret how much I love a social run. The company really helped me keep going. As me & Sarah are both also signed up for the Bath Half Marathon in March, we needed to get a couple of long runs in. Day 13 was a cold 10 mile run but with the promise of a shorter run the next day with a long planned trip to the spa. Legs were starting to feel it as this point & those steam rooms were a blessing, as was the awesome food, the jacuzzi & the massage.
Week 3 was the week it started to get tough for me. I’ve not ever suffered from tight calves in the past but they were causing me real discomfort despite using the foam roller & having regular sports massages. I think it was this week that I began to hit somewhat of a wall. It’s not an excuse but work had picked up again for me, my job involves a lot of travelling & then continuing with work once I’m back home again – whatever time that is. Getting out was feeling harder as, to be honest, I just didn’t feel like it. This is where having Sarah’s support, as well as my other friends, really came into it’s own. Day 20 was a hard day. I got around to Sarah’s that Saturday evening and we proceeded to run a 1.5 mile loop several times, surprisingly the first 6 miles passed easily & we kept going until we had completed another 10 mile run. Considering how we had procrastinated all day we were both feeling pretty good about our achievement, at that moment I believe both of us were very grateful for the support we had from the other.
Now…..prepare for a bit of a shocker….after suffering with painful legs and feeling like I was wading through treacle I unexpectedly took a turn for the better in week 4. My pace started to pick up considerably, better than it had done for months following injury last Summer. In that week I ran my fastest 10k time in 10 months, achieved two 1 mile PB’s & completed my fastest lap of the race track at my local running club during a speed session. It literally felt like it came out of nowhere & although it was tough I was still surprised, I’ve been pushing for those kind of times for months with no success. Personally I felt fantastic however towards the end of the week my calves started to become very painful again, ParkRun on the Saturday was hard work & my planned long run on the Sunday had to be cut short as I was having to stop & stretch every mile. I had gone from such a high to such a low.
With sore legs, & full on jobs, we both rolled into the final week. Sarah had already hit 100 miles however I still had 7 miles to go & was super keen to hit that milestone having never ran that kind of mileage in a single month previously. I knew the last 3 days were going to be tough as I was away with work for a conference & was going to need to fit the running in around the planned activities.
On Monday (day 29) I arrived at my hotel in Telford just before 10pm, the hotel gym had closed therefore I ran back and forth in front of the hotel & got to 2 miles although not the most exciting of runs. At 7am the next morning I met one of my work mates and we did a 3 mile loop down to the conference centre and back up to the hotel again, it was so icy we both almost went over a few times. This was the first day of the conference & it was a full on day with only 40 minutes to get ready for the evening reception so the run had to be fitted in early.
Day 31 arrived and was the second day of the conference, there were planned team activities that morning which included rowing machines, cross trainers, skipping, cycling, trampolining & happily….treadmill running! I put myself forwards for the treadmill (obviously taking one for the team there) & clocked up 5k meaning I had hit my 100 miles whilst staring at a blank wall – not the way I have envisaged it! During the first week of the challenge Sarah & myself had planned on doing a final run together, to the pub, for some prosecco & I wasn’t about to let work get in the way of those plans! Despite the second day of the conference finishing late, I drove straight from Telford to meet Sarah just before 8pm. We took it easy on that final run, time wasn’t important but I think we were both feeling a little giddy at the prospect of not having to run the next day.
In total Sarah ran 124 miles during January & I hit 103 miles with, so far, raising a significant amount of money for Mind Charity.
So; what did R.E.D January teach me?
1) Enthusiasm gets you so far but sheer stubbornness (some would say determination) is always useful
2) Keeping up with the laundry was a daily struggle, thankfully I have many pairs of leggings, race tshirts & sports bras however running socks…not so many. I need to purchase some more
3) Knowing we were raising money for a good cause, with the messages of support, was so important to us. We found it painful but it’s nothing compared to what some people have to go through
4) Variety was key, we both tried to find new routes & also ran with friends as it kept it interesting & not so much of a chore
5) We’re tougher than we thought. The month was full of highs & lows, not just because we were running everyday but because your normal life has to go on which comes with it’s own challenges. Still going out to run, when you’re tired, in pain & frankly can’t be bothered takes real strength of character
6) I do have enough time to train! I’m constantly saying I don’t have enough time to do the training I want to do however this month has proved I do, it’s all about prioritisation
7) Would I do it again? Ask me again in November, my legs may have recovered by then…
An incredible 22,930 people signed up for R.E.D January, the biggest team to date! 8411 people were fundraising on JustGiving with many more collecting sponsorship offline. REDers fundraising efforts have already helped to raise over £510k so far, this will fund Mind Charities infoline to answer 85000 calls next year!
We were totally inspired and in awe of all the RED January runners. Not only is it a tough physical challenge, its so difficult mentally to motivate yourself to go out every day and is incredibly hard to make happen with everything else going on in our lives. So to everyone who ran it, we salute you!
Thanks to Lil for sharing her experience. You can follow her running across social media:
If you were inspired by Lil's R.E.D January then check out our first Virtual Run - Miles For Mind - throughout May in aid of Mind.
Also, check out our other blogs here: https://www.runr.co.uk/blogs/news