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Managing mental health – Endurance running is my salvation and why my workplace prospers from it, Friday, May 26, 2017

Jason Trimmer – Chiltern Harriers

Quite a long title I know, so bear with me whilst I explain. Those of you who know me personally, understand that I don’t mind self-serving some physical and mental hardship occasionally. I’m a veteran, I took the Queens shilling and served with the British Army for 14 years, it made me who I am today and the physical lifestyle has stayed with me, ingrained, even when I transitioned into civilian life.

 

They say that ‘middle age’, whatever decade that is now, is one of the most difficult periods of your life, raising children, managing a career and caring for ailing parents. Pressures from all angles, that if not managed, can cause mental health issues. I arrived back in the UK from Australia, 2.5 years ago, with my family and 5 suitcases, nowhere to live and no credit history. I returned to support my Dad who was just about to start his first round of treatment for prostate cancer. Giving up my career in Sydney, pulling my 3 boys out of school and asking my wife Carolynn to leave her family behind was a big ask and has tested us all.

 

I hear daily about mental health, it’s profile has been elevated and deservedly so, however this is a consequence of just how many suffer from it. The workplace is a massive breeding ground for anxiety and stress, time pressures abound, high expectations given the digital tech we surround ourselves with, constantly bombarded with multiple streams of information that need to be digested. It seems to me that society is ever increasing the demands and demonising by some is common place in our 24/7 lives. And this is just the workplace!

 

My salvation is endurance running through remote and difficult trails, preferably in mountainous areas, 100 miles is not uncommon with big elevating climbs that can take days to complete. These types of events take meticulous planning and training just to get to the start line. My last ‘big event’ in the summer of 2016, took me around the Mont Blanc ‘massif’, through 3 countries, 103 miles with 10,000 metres of climbing over 36 hours non-stop. It took everything from me, physically, emotionally and towards the end I began to hallucinate. I suffered 30+ degree heat during the day, ran across snowfields during the night at altitudes of 2,500 metres and endured a thunder and electrical storm atop one of the last peaks. This event stripped me to my core and perversely I would do it again, even though ‘everything hurt’ and I mean everything.

 

For me it’s about feeling ‘raw’, getting back to basics and getting back in tune with who we once were as humans, we chased our meals, we ran away from danger, humans are built to run and we’re dam good at it, humans need to keep moving. You don’t need to replicate what I do to achieve the benefits; the biggest step is putting your shoes on and getting out the door.

 

So why does my workplace prosper? I’m more alert during the day as I sleep better, if I’m sleeping well then my overall mood is boosted. I’m a positive person who always looks optimistically on the world, probably due to the endorphins that are released through my system. I would like to think that my memory is improved (I have no way of measuring this as I’m not prepared to stop running for an experiment). And because I feel ‘happy’ my social behaviour is positive, not to mention the motivation, goal setting, having a purpose and critical thinking that happens, a direct correlation to running and my behaviours in the workplace. I’m less prone to sickness which means more days in the office, a tangible benefit to the business. Confidence is reinforced meaning that any work goal is achievable, we may fall occasionally during a project for example and some would see that as failure, failure is only realised when you refuse to get back up, re-evaluate and crack on. This is what runners do, sheer will and determination is sometimes required in the workplace not just outside on the trails. I could go on and on.

 

My typical response to any of my colleagues asking me in the morning, ‘How are you Jase’, is ‘Bloody great’ and that is the truth, because I am a runner.

 

Soon I’ll be enjoying my 50th year and I’m looking for my next ‘stretch’, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m also pleased to say that my Dad is doing well and in remission.

 

If anyone would like to talk to me about Mental Health and how I manage it through running, then please shout out, we could chat whilst we run.

 

Ultra-Trail Du Mont Blanc (UTMB)

Queens shilling

 

Footnote

When I read Jason’s article, which he originally published on LinkedIn, I thought it would benefit other runners, who may not use LinkedIn.  I therefore asked Jason for his permission to share it, and do so gratefully.  Jason told me that ..”reaching out to as many people as possible about mental health and how we can manage it is SO important”.

Jonathan Hamill

Chairman

Elvet Striders Down Hill Dash Club Run 2017, Wednesday, April 5, 2017

1 mile

The inaugural Striders Downhill 1 mile run looked a great success with some fierce finishes.

For more photos (all downloadable full size) visit the gallery …

 

 

 

Here’s the details of the run for the next time!

Gareth writes …

The Wednesday (5th April) the club run will be a one mile downhill dash from old Durham Gardens. The Start at the top of old Durham Gardens and finish at the wobbly Bridge at MC.

The idea is to set each pace group off under the run leaders and meet just about 7:30ish at the start area. We will then set each race/wave off in their chosen Mile group.

I just want this to be fun, but people can definitely target a Mile PB if they desire on the day as it’s very fast Down Hill.

Here’s a map of the route:

 

And now a pictorial guide (Gareth’s photos):

The Start

Down the hill then turn right towards the Cathedral

A long flatish slightly downhill stretch with the Cathedral in the distance

Down towards Old Durham Gardens then bear left at gate (marshalled)

Looking back at the gate that you’ve just gone through

Down the hill then bear left up the muddy path

A few metres up the path then bear right, towards the river

Just before old bridge, bear right then left

Left Left Left under the old bridge

Straight run to the finish

If you’ve got 10 minutes to spare, here’s how it looks. You can see that it’s going to be very sunny. It’s not quite GoPro quality but you get the idea. Be ready for the Susan Davis photobomb.

Link to full size (1.3GB) file: Downhill Dash 1 mile

Northern Navigators Charity Score Event, Houghall Woods, Monday, December 26, 2016

3.5km

Patrick Hamill

Team Smitchard & Hamill braved the -3°C Boxing Day winds blowing 35 kph to conquer the steps of doom!

It was a windy, cold, horrible and foul day.  We parked at the top car park on the Science Site and could hardly stand in the wind.  After a while, we got a special gadget to check into the controls which were hidden in Houghall Woods.

There were lots of tricky places where the controls were hidden, with obstacles, slippery mud, hills and steps.  I also taught the grown ups a new technique to climb hills, “Climb like a tiger!”.

I was pretty pleased that I managed to run in my wellies alongside Captain Gareth – I think I’ll catch him at parkrun one day!

After a run along the top of the forest, we had to go into a gorge which was very deep.  We saw lots of other people, going in different directions, but luckily we had a compass and my Dad is good at reading maps.  We had to be back within an hour, or we would get penalties.  So, we decided to run up the steps of doom which were very tricky and tiring.

When we got to the top, we had to run fast across the car park towards the finish.  Then we queued up to get our scores and Gareth got me some chocolate!

Patrick Hamill (aged 7) #parkrunpat

David Aspin has taken a great batch of photos from today’s event and are available as a Flickr album:
Northern Navigators Charity Score Event - 26/12/16

Night time safety / December club run, Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Catherine and Gareth Smitchard

Well done to everyone who turned out tonight, particularly those who were super luminous, reflective and lit up! Shining bright like diamonds! 

Given the darkened streets we really do recommend people purchase kit that helps them be seen by motorists, cyclists and other pedestrians. To encourage this and in memory of the girls who tragically lost their lives in the recent accident we will be dedicating the next club run to them. We’d like you to invest in (borrow / share) items to keep you safe and wear them ALL on club run night to make our own ‘lumiere’ event on 8th December. A few people had the heel lights on and they were really fab, as were the flashing arm bands. Only a few quid from eBay! Failing that neon clothing / over vests etc are available at reasonable prices – not the most fashionable items but could save a life. 

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