On 9th April I ran my first marathon. Wow. Despite the months of training, eating right and mental preparation nothing could have made me ready for the emotional rollercoaster that was to come.
I enjoy sport. In 2017 I joined Swim Dem Crew – a community focussed swimming group in London and I found my sporting confidence grew quickly and a group of us signed up to complete the River Dark 10k swim. A 10K swim is known as the swimmer’s marathon and in September I completed the challenge and was awarded a towel (not quite the medal I’d dreamed of after 3 hours face down in murky river water but it was an accolade none the less).
I learned a lot about myself during the training and completion of that swim, I learned discipline and patience & how to tame my mind while doing repetitive training with no entertainment for hours. I also learned that medals are important to me!
I work hard to keep on top of my mental health and find sport a great way to do that, and having a challenge means I’ll keep training even on the dark days. So while riding the high of my swimming success I signed up for Paris Marathon and won a place to run for Maudsley Charity in London Marathon. Both in April – gulp!
As I ran through the snow in January I wondered if this time I had bitten off more than I could chew? You see I’m not a natural runner and I find each mile difficult. Would my strength of mind carry me through this time? Could I strengthen my mind enough to carry me through?
With the help of a patient boyfriend celebrating every long weekend run and my Scentered aromatherapy balms to keep me focussed and help me sleep deeply, I managed to train and prepare myself…or so I thought!
No amount of preparation could have got my mind ready for the 26.2-mile onslaught. I hadn’t factored in the challenge of eating and resting right when you are abroad for a marathon. I hadn’t factored in the cheers being sparse and in French! My fellow runners were a lot faster than me which broke my spirit a little despite my best efforts to ‘Run my own race’ and keep believing in myself and to top it off I was suffering from period pains and low mood from PMT.
The journey was long. I started out with a focus on completing the first 6 miles, drinking in the atmosphere and having fun. That part went well and I really enjoyed it. At 7 miles I put on a podcast and got my head down to take me to the half marathon mark but by that point the sun was blazing and I was far too hot – and I lost my spirit. I saw my supporters and wept – I wanted it to be over and I was sore and I was only halfway around.
I dug deep and pushed on. The heat meant my kit was rubbing me (problems I didn’t have training in the British Winter!) so I thought through my options. I’d heard about people offering out Vaseline on the sidelines a London Marathon but there was none of that in Paris. Instead, I had to get creative so I pulled out my tiny Focus Scentered balm from down my top (there was no space in my running belt!!) and I rubbed it all over my arms and all the painful spots. As if by magic my miracle tiny balm stopped the pain immediately – no more rubbing and my mood started to lift. I could smell the amazing mint from Focus and it lifted my spirits further. I can do this. I can do this.
I kept applying the balm to my neck so I could smell it throughout the race – it helped me feel calm and in control.
A painfully long 6 hours 17 minutes later and I finally crossed the line to collect my medal. PHEW!!!!!
I felt a bit flat when I finished my marathon – I was disappointed I’d struggled and shed so many tears despite working hard to train, eat and sleep properly for months ahead. But as is well known, you never know until you set out if it is going to be a good run or a tough run….and this was a tough run.
I have since come home and I’m on the mend, I have 4 days until the next run and I’m focussed hard on having fun this time.
I don’t think I’ll ever run another marathon so on Sunday 22nd April I’m leaving my ego at home – it’s not about the time it takes, I’m just going to smile and enjoy it and remember I’m doing it to make sure the world knows more about mental health than it used to. And I’ve decided to switch my aromatherapy balm. This time I’ll be running with Be Happy 😊
Lucy ran for the Maudsley Charity & Mental Health. Find out more about her reasons for picking this charity.
7 key facts about Maudsley Charity & Mental Health
- 1 in 5 patients in need of mental health support don’t get the treatment they need.
- Maudsley Charity funds researchers to deliver pioneering projects which shape the future of mental health in the UK.
- Technology is making mental health support accessible to all and can bring communities closer together but it requires funding. Amazing researchers and Psychologists are working towards a world where rural communities can have the same support as city dwellers.
- Maudsley Charity hosts an amazing hub called ORTUS café where anyone can eat and work and have quiet space in London. It has amazing views of the city on the top floor and is open to the public.
- Maudsley charity funds Bethlem Art Gallery which hosts works created by the hospital’s patients and there is even a museum which tells the history of mental health in the UK. And they are FREE
- Please remember there is amazing help for people with mental health problems. So much help is available. Don’t give up & most importantly don’t take no for an answer – keep pushing your GP or health service, the help is out there and you can get better and get relief from your symptoms. One patient has just left Maudsley feeling really well, he searched for help for fifteen years. Maudsley Charity is working hard to change this kind of statistic.
- Maudsley Charity helps people get support where the NHS isn’t able to. This charity funds support so it touches people the NHS can’t reach.