What a difference a year makes
In an effort to see just how far I have come this year in increasing awareness of anxiety, depression and mental health I thought I would combine my #2017bestnine and #2016bestnine into one post.
– 2017, you have changed my life!
– Running, you have changed my life!
– Instagram, you have changed my life!
2016 – The worst year of my life
2016 (scroll right) was possibly the worst year of my life. In fact, it WAS the worst year of my life. I felt like I lost everything. Anxious to the point I couldn’t leave the house, I quit my job due to mental health without having another job to go to, my spending got our of control, I cried myself to sleep most nights, I got rock bottom. But what I did do was find running! However, it’s not as simple as that! In April 2016 I ran the Brighton marathon, in fact I smashed out a 4 hour 10 minute marathon. I loved it but then I hung my boots up because I didn’t get the bug. I didn’t see the big thing. But in November, after a period of being at my lowest again, I found some @runthrough events that I liked the look of. The first one was the Olympic park 10k in December. So, I dusted off the trainers that still had the laces done up from Brighton marathon, I put on my old running gear and went out for a training run, I was gone for ages, and just like that, I loved running, being out there running was where I found peace. I realised that running could help me a lot. That’s when I changed my Instagram name from thefosh1984 to kieronruns. December’s Olympic Park 10k came, I went there on my own, to a place I had never been, lined up with a few hundred other people, in a big crowd and ran a 55 minute 10k. To say I was over the moon is an understatement. I got home and signed up to more races right away. The whole buzz of the @runthroughuk events got me addicted. I then started following Rebecca and was so inspired by her posts. After chatting to Rebecca for a while I decided to go to a runners meets up at Hyde Park in February to meet her and some others including Tommy Barber.
2017 – Time for changed
February arrived, the day of the meetup came, I was nervous as hell! I got to Hyde Park, I turned back, then turned back and again, and again before finally giving myself a kick up the backside and walked into the Serpentine Bar. Instantly I felt relaxed, Tommy greeted me, May gave me a huge hug, Rebecca and I hugged it out too. I ran with May and Claire for two laps around Hyde Park, talking about Mays wedding plans, Claires career and probably a load of rubbish about my life!! We then sat, ate pizza, I chatted with Ian, Amy, Rebecca, Tommy and everyone else. It was a great day! I felt happy for the first time in a long time. The next day I joined the guys at the London Winter run and cheered on with James (@shoulder_runner) then we went to London Bridge for drinks. I hadn’t laughed so much in a long time.
This is the point things changed for me. I realised that I could help people in my own way. I realised that my anxiety and mental health troubles were far more prominent in life, something I had always thought were issues that were my own were actually widespread. I wanted to share my experiences with people and use running as the outlet to help people. I set up my ‘the anxious runner’ Facebook blog and changed my Instagram name to theanxiousrunner_. Something clicked in my mind, something really burnt that fire in my belly, I can actually help people, I can actually be somebody, I can actually do what I have always wanted to do in life……..help people.
More races came and went. I ran again at Olympic Park and got a time of 47 minutes!! My daughter came to watch with my parents, it was freezing! I was so happy to see my little girl at the end. I had just knocked 8 minutes off of my PB!!
The anxious runner Instagram page and Facebook page were both growing, I was posting the same content on both pretty much but to different people. It was time to show people that you can do anything if you put your mind to it. I booked an ultra marathon! I booked the London to Brighton challenge. A gruelling 100km challenge from Richmond Park in London to Brighton raceground. 11 weeks to go until my first ever ultra marathon. Races came and went, 10k’s, half Marathons and even a couple of marathons, all part of the training for the Ultra, I was super excited. I was helping more and more people, I was gaining confidence, I was becoming more aware of mental health issues, aware of different ways to maintain positive mental health, aware of ways I could help. This is when I decided to start up my own virtual challenge business to help people (@virtualchallengeplanet) I decided that a brilliant way to get people into exercise was to reward people for achieving their own goals. I was able to throw myself in the deep end and go to a large event but many people cannot do that, they will prefer to do it on their own or not at all. I want to help people everyone achieve their goals through rewards and also help raise vital cash for charities.
Moving back onto running, my Ultra marathon was here, the big day, I really did not know what to expect. I knew I could run a marathon but could I tackle an Ultra. The first 10k was fine, pounding the streets of London, then the trail running started. The first checkpoint at 12.5k. I sat, I rest, I felt good. I didn’t get anything to eat which proved to be a huge mistake. The trails were hard, I was running on my own, the course was so widespread that it was difficult to stay motivated. This was the toughest mental battle so far, 25k in, second checkpoint, I still had 75k to go. I was alone with my thoughts for 2 and a half hours, this was not good for my mental health, I was crumbling but still battling on, I want to get to the halfway point (56km) and see where that would take me. After 25k I started running with two other people, one incredibly motivational, one very much not. “You are going too slow” “I am pushing on” “We aren’t going to hit my target if we go at this rate”! I didn’t need this. I found the inner strength to carry on through extreme pain both mentally and physically. I made it to 56km in 6 and a half hours. Bang on what I expected. It is then that I broke down, I sat for an hour before calming down, giving my number back and finding Rebecca and James who were just around the corner. I made my way back to Brighton via train and hardly slept a wink in my Airbnb that I booked. I was so happy. I may not have completed the 100km but I still smashed 56km and was an ultra marathoner!
The birth of anxious_to_ultra
More races followed the ultra marathon. I continued to find new ways to manage my anxiety, I continued to do my best to help people and I continued to work hard to motivate others get into exercise. I wanted my Instagram name to follow my journey. From discovering I suffered from a severe form of anxiety (kieronsruns to theanxiousrunner_) I now wanted my name to reflect my achievements and show that you can manage your anxiety and I found running as the way I manage mine. This is when I changed my Instagram name to Anxious_to_ultra. By this point in the year I had completed 4 marathons, 2 ultra marathon (my second ultra being the St Albans Stampede). I felt this reflected my progress in 2017 very well. I am now a double ultra marathoner, I am an anxiety sufferer with a massive heart, a dry sense of humour and probably a bit too kind for my own good. I would do anything for anyone. I suffer from anxiety on a daily basis, I find new ways of dealing with it on a daily basis, I help people on a daily basis. 2017 has changed my life. Anxiety is something I have suffered from since a 7 year old boy when I used to walk to school worried about whether today would involve name calling or being beaten up. I have made friends with some amazing people in 2017 both in person and over Instagram. It has been a year that has changed my life. for the first time in my life I am proud of myself and everything I have achieved. 2016 saw me fall apart and hit rock bottom but from rock bottom, the only way is up. 2016 thank you for the struggles, 2017 thank you for the lessons, 2018 look out!