On April 8th 2016 I’ll be running 155 miles across the Sahara Desert in what is considered the toughest foot race on earth, the ‘Marathon Des Sables‘. Not only will I be running 155 miles in 50 degree heat but Im also required to carry all my own essential supplies for the 6 day event; food, water, sleeping bag etc etc, and therefore it is advised you pack as light as possible to increase your chances of survival, essentially meaning, NO luxuries. However if you’re anything like me, travel and adventure has always been synonymous with a particular artist, album or playlist. Consequently I have re-classified my iPod and solar charger as essential NOT luxury, and with only 31 days till the race, its time to add track selection into my weekly training schedule…
Although selecting what music to take is an important element of any adventure, and I’d appreciate your suggestions below, there is actually a much more profound reason for me running across the Sahara. This is not, as some may think, a vanity project to roll out at dinner parties, but actually a statement of intent against the debilitating illness, Depression. According to ‘Mind’ 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem each year with an alarming 17 in every 100 of those having suicidal thoughts. Now some of you reading this may have already switched off thinking this doesn’t apply to me, however, before you move on bear in mind that 1 in 4 essentially means that someone close to you is most likely fighting something and could need your support.
Personally I have been battling depression for more than a decade and whilst I am yet to fully overcome it I have managed to devise a daily system of managing my symptoms. In particular setting myself demanding long-term physical challenges has enabled me to focus on a positive long-term target with daily achievable milestones. This is not to say that I dont have days where the thought of getting out of bed or even breathing seems a complete and utter waste of my time and everyone else’s, but over the years I have learnt that if I force myself to get up and go for a run, that my mood lifts and I am better able to cope with my circumstances. It may not cure my depression and Im not suggesting that if someone is on medication that they should stop taking it and go for a run instead, but what I am saying is that depression, anxiety, low self esteem, dont have to rob us of a fulfilling adventurous life. Having said that it does require those of us who suffer to overcome our pride and reach out for help, which is easier said than done, but on reflection reaching out in 2014 was the best decision I ever made.
Well there we go, I hope my race across the desert has inspired your personally or is something you can inspire others with. I am also raising money for three charities and therefore if you’d like to support my cause beyond sharing this post, hit one of the following ‘Just Giving’ links below. Thanks for reading.
World Vision – Supporting Child Refugees [Just Giving]. Raised £440
Youth Sports Trust – Supporting Girls with negative images about their bodies [Just Giving]. Raised £200
Kick Start – [Just Giving]. Raised £520
Foals – Mountain At My Gate (Out Now)
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