Challenging the traditional advice on training for a marathon. Confronting the stigma around mental health.

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AYM is a blog tracking my attempt to train for a marathon by running as few miles as possible. I hope to use it to talk openly about mental health and raise awareness of the MHF’s work.

Why a marathon?

It basic terms, because its a big enough challenge to get my attention, and hopefully will encourage you to support my effort to raise a ton of money for the Mental Health Foundation.

The problem…

I’ve always thought running a marathon was a stupid idea.

Sure, it’s a great way of testing what you’re capable of & the kudos that goes along with finishing a marathon is pretty atractive. But is it worth countless hours pounding the pavements, weekends written off with long runs, and inevitable injuries.

Until recently all the advice I’d heard/read about training for a marathon seemed to have a few things in common; start slow, build up aerobic endurance with regular long runs, and incrementally add distance. Sure, throw in a bit of speed work closer to the race but basically you’ve just got to suck it up and keep on plodding – there’s no replacement for miles.

Now, there’s no denying the principle behind this works. It’s an approach after all, that’s delivered gold medals for elite athletes over the years. It didn’t really sound my style though (I’m no athlete, let alone elite) and more importantly a quick look at the stats for the incidence of injuries in runners suggests it’s also likely to leave you broken & in pain – maybe for the long term.

A better way? 

What if there was a better (or at least alternative) way for the non-elite athlete to train for a marathon – one that doesn’t involve countless hours pounding the pavements and constantly managing chronic injuries?

Well, I’m going to try and find out if it is possible by seeing how few miles I can run in preparation for the 2016 London Marathon. It’s not quite as crazy/lazy as it sounds, but may still go wrong so feel free to follow my progress if you’re interested to see how i get on!

Why the Mental Health Foundation?

It's kind of a big issue.

It’s estimated that between 20%25% of the UK population experience mental health problems in any given year.

In England alone this level of poor mental health is likely to cost over £100bn every year.

Health inequality

Despite mental illness being such a wide reaching & significant issue, it’s neither particularly well understood or supported when compared physical conditions:

Historically, mental health services have been lower quality than those for physical health. They have had lower funding relative to need; struggled to offer sufficient access to services, and tended to focus on containment rather than recovery. Despite improvements, these issues are still present, particularly for those with severe mental illness and for children and young people.” – Is Mental Healthcare Improving, The Health Foundation, March 2015.

I’ve seen how mental illness effects people in a number of different ways, and yet still know so little about what it’s like to deal with or how best to help. I’m one of the ignorant many. By sharing my attempt to better understand issues related to mental health, my hope is to add another voice to a discussion that needs to happen more regularly and more publicly.

I’m running the 2016 London Marathon for the Mental Health Foundation, because the work they do is improving the lives of so many, and has the potential to transform so many more.

Support the Mental Health Foundation

…go on, be a lamb.

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