Glasgow

Fraser Baxter – Blog 2

Fraser Baxter Ambassador Blog 2

Since my last blog 4 weeks ago I have been busy running the Great North run (the most mental event ever!!!), The Scottish Half Marathon (A new PB!!!!) and training really hard for the Lochness Marathon in October. I say training really hard but to tell the truth is more of a distraction as the reality is that October is the month that I dread the most in the year, it is our daughter Jenna’s birthday and anniversary of her death. This as you would expect produces all sorts of different emotions – the joy of having a baby daughter and at the other end of the spectrum complete and utter sadness/ anger / grief that her life was cut so short.

During October I become more aware of the “mask of grief” that I wear and probably will for the rest of my life. What is the “mask of grief”? Well it’s this invisible shield that you develop that sort of protects from all sorts of vulnerably? It masks your true feelings to allow you to get on with your “new normal”. As with most masks they do become uncomfortable if you wear then for a long periods of time. I try to run about four times a week this allows me to take of my mask and recharge the batteries.

Your mask can help you in many situations for example when you get asked how many kids you have? It’s such a simple question but to me it’s such a difficult questions to answer. Depends on your audience right? Can you truthfully answer that to a complete stranger? Yes I have 3 kids but one died? That just make the situation totally uncomfortable and could lead to a lot of other difficult questions and maybe not fair to person asking the question. If say two the situation is normal and we can all move. This is where the “mask of grief” protects and everything looks ok for the outside but inside there is immense levels of guilt for not telling the truth. I should be saying three daughters because when I don’t I’m denying Jenna her rightful place in our family. I suppose that situation is much like running the more you train the better you get and after 3 years of being asked that question I have a well-rehearsed answer depending on who is asking!

October will no doubt be a month of ups and downs, much like the 26.2 mile back to Inverness. Once the Marathon is done and dusted am looking forward to a change in my training with the introduction of some sorter distance and speed work in preparation for the Mens10km. I am also looking forward to completely the Men’s 10K as part of a group of bereaved dad’s. As mentioned in previous blog, I go to a support group especially for Beavered Dads and we are planning to get some training runs in soon. I think running together will show unity and just emphasis the point that you don’t need to go along in this journey of grief alone!

Inspired? Watch, read and enjoy more content from our fantastic crop of 2019 Edinburgh Ambassadors at mens10k.com/edinburgh-ambassadors. If you’ve not yet taken the leap, secure your spot on a Men’s 10K start line this year at mens10k.com/mydetails.

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Duncan Whyte – Blog 2

Duncan Whyte Ambassador Blog 2

11am exactly on the 2nd of January 2013. My first born came into this world. For as long as I can recall, I wanted to become a father. It’s the only ambition I have ever really had. I remember trying to bluff my way through my Standard Grade French speaking assessment aged 15 as a result of a combination of being thoroughly under prepared and not giving a ‘merde’ when my teacher asked me ‘Quelles ambitions as-tu dans la vie?’. This I was ready for. I had been ready all my life. ‘Mon ambition dans la vie est de devenir père d’une famille’. Madame lifted her gaze from my assessment record which she had been annotating furiously for the past five minutes but which felt like an eternity and made momentary eye contact but long enough to utter what every kid who has ever darkened a French lesson longs to hear. ‘Tres bien Duncan, Tres bien’. Fast forward back to 2013 and I first lay eyes on my daughter. Three days after my wife was first admitted to hospital. I had pretty much lived in the maternity ward during those days overdosing on terrible daytime TV to pass the mindless boredom, getting frustrated at not being able to complete crosswords and eating meals in my car. My wife insists she had it tougher and of course she did. We were both shattered. My overarching memories of that day were primarily of relief that mother and child were healthy and safe. The rest was numbness and a strange level of disconnect. It wasalmost like this was happening but not to me. Like I was a voyeur watching a reality TV show where I was pleased that the characters I was rooting for had pulled through but that wasabout it. I was expecting fireworks, a sense of euphoria, something otherworldly. Maybe it was the fatigue. Maybe it was the spirit crushing game shows. Maybe it was the Entonox (which I would thoroughly recommend by the way) or the three square meals a day from a vending machine. Whatever it was, it wasn’t what I expected. Mother and baby were doing well so I was asked to kindly leave the premises (not for the first time in my life but under entirely different circumstances). I drove home. Opened the door. Navigated my way to my bed and fell asleep. Keys still in the lock of the outside of the door. It then hit me. Hard. I usually groggily phase myself gently from slumber to consciousness via at least three slams of the snooze button. Not on this day. I woke in an instant. Sat bolt upright with adrenaline rushing through my veins and feeling like my heart was going to burst out of my chest. I tried to engage my brain. I was too young for a stroke, what was going on? Then I realised. It had happened. I was a dad. Me. To a beautiful little girl. She was mine, I was hers. Throw on some clothes, a particularly clashing combination in my giddy haste. Get in car, drive too fast (nothing illegal but not in my usual frugal mindset of optimising my MPG manner). I held her in my arms and the world seemed at peace. 1000 merdique nappys later, being puked on in a supermarket where the vomit went down my coat neck and came out of my sleeve and countless sleepless nights since have knocked the rose tinted spectacles from my face. Well, just a little. Regardless, being a dad is the proudest achievement I have had in life and trying to be a good dad is undoubtedly the biggest challenge that I have ever faced. I make mistakes all too often but I am fiercely proud of my family and do my best to meet their ever shifting needs.

Running is one of the few aspects of my life where I can recreate some of the physiological sensations I experienced the day after my daughter was born. I enjoy entering mass participation races and being part of a supercolony of runners who thrive off each other’s energy, positivity and encouragement. Whether it’s a 5K, 10K or half marathon, I get a real buzz from taking part and pursuing individual goals and overcoming personal barriers. The finish is always the highlight and reaching around the last 500 metre mark is when the best feeling comes for me. I can feel wave after wave of endorphins washing over my body, turning it to jelly and simultaneously strengthening my resolve to push my body harder to get over the line. It genuinely gives me an enormous sense of wellbeing. Pencilling in organised events such as the Mens 10K in Edinburgh into my diary helps to motivate my running in between races and compels to me to go out for a run and reap all the benefits that this brings even on the coldest, windiest and wettest of nights the East coast has to offer. If you have never ran a race before, I implore you to do so. Perhaps you are new to running or have recently embarked on the couch to 5k training plan and feel that I’m not good enough or not fast enough to take part. Let me reassure you that running events in my experience are some of the most inclusive activities I have participated in. All sizes, shapes, abilities, levels of experience are represented and the community spirit amongst runners ensures everyone feels valued whether you finish first or last. When you feel like you are hitting the wall and a complete stranger who has made up the numbers who line the streets shouts ‘come on Duncan, you can do it’ as they read the name next to your number, it gives you a thrill and pushes you on to achieve things you thought were beyond you. Sign up for an event today such as the Men’s 10K in Edinburgh, I guarantee you will not regret it and suspect you will enrol in many similar events in the future.
Having ran quite a number of races over the past few years, this will be the first time that I have ran for charity. In a very selfish way I started running for me, kept running for me and entered races for the aforementioned high it gives me. Oh, and for the bling. I love a medal I do. I guess I have always felt a bit awkward asking friends and family for money for doing something I overtly enjoy, which I do to manage my own physical and mental health and for which I would quite readily pay to do. I feel very honoured to have been chosen to become a Mens 10K Edinburgh Ambassador however the most ambassadorial thing I have done to date is to gift wrap some Ferrero rocher to give to my granny at Christmas. Exquisite but hardly inspirational. Given that I have been lucky enough to have been chosen for this role, it only seems right to make my running be about someone else rather than myself for once. At the Mens 10K in Edinburgh this year, I am going to be raising funds for an organisation called ‘The Yard.

The Yard is an award-winning charity running adventure play services for disabled children, young people and their caregivers in the East of Scotland. The Yard provides physical as well as emotional support to families in an environment that allows children with additional support needs to have opportunities to promote their physical development and social communication in a safe and vibrant setting. My awesome son Theo loves visiting the Yard in both Edinburgh and Dundee. As his dad, it is so satisfying to see him explore the facilities at the Yard with confidence, take controlled risks that he wouldn’t in other contexts and moreover relax and have a bundle of fun. What The Yard gets so right is in fostering a culture and ethos of inclusivity and equity for children and families who often have experiences of feeling marginalised and excluded or simply having trouble accessing other services. Signing up for the Men’s 10K in Edinburgh and being lucky enough to do so as an ambassador for the event provides me with a platform to highlight the fantastic work of all the people who make The Yard what it is, to raise money to help support the services The Yard offers and to put a little something back into a facility which I and my son have benefited from and feel so passionate about.

Race day is just over a month away now and my regular running routine continues although I have not got out as often or ran as far during training runs as I would have hoped for. Things have been super busy at work, a short period of illness, the nights turning darker and just generally being shattered as a result of a busy professional and domestic schedule has meant that whilst I am keeping my body and running legs ticking over, I am certainly not in any shape to be aiming for a PB come November the 3rd. I much prefer running outdoors as opposed to in the gym and as the weather turns a bit wetter and wilder so it will take considerable personal commitment to motivate myself to get out and try to get into some form of reasonable shape. I just need to remind myself that I always feel better after a run even when the prospect of going for one in the first place can be a little less than appealing. To compound matters, I thought it would be a great idea back in May shortly after completing my first half marathon to sign up for another. This is now tomorrow (Sundaty 29th September). Tonight is an incredibly are child free evening as my cherubs go for a sleepover at their grandparents house. Thus I am preparing for the 21.1km having had two beers and a glass of wine to wash down the meal my wife and I enjoyed at our local curry house. I am not sure this is exactly how Mo Farah prepares 16 hours before his events but whilst running is important to me, being a father and a husband always comes first. I am sure Mo would approve.

Hopefully I will see some of you other dads, grandads, sons, uncles and brothers at the start line on the Royal Mile for the Men’s 10k in Edinburgh 2019. In my next blog, I will let you know how my balti fuelled half marathon went, update you as to how my training has been progressing and share with you my pre race thoughts and emotions prior to the big day.

If you are reading this blog and feel like you would make even the smallest of contributions to The Yard then you can do so by visiting my JustGiving page at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/duncan-whyte1 This would help to support The Yard continue to support the development of and create wonderful experiences for children with additional support needs.
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Fraser Baxter – Blog 1

Fraser Baxter Ambassador Blog Post 1

Well I guess the first thing you should know about me is that I am a bereaved dad. My life was turned upside down when my second daughter died on 20 th October when she was just 1 day old. Jenna Baxter was her name and she has changed my life in so many different ways!

The excitement of our second imminent arrival quickly turned to shock when she was born and quickly taken to be resuscitated. 25 minutes is how long it took the medical team to revive my beautiful baby girl, they kept going so long because she took a tiny gasp. The waiting to find out if she was okay was unbearable. The consultant came to tell us that our baby was very poorly and they were not sure if she would survive.

When I saw her for the first time up in SCBU, I was flooded with so many emotions but seeing all the equipment and machines she was hooked up to I felt and overwhelming sense of fear. She had to be moved to the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh as they had more specialist equipment there. I travelled in a police escorted ambulance with her and wife travelled in a separate ambulance. We were told that she may not survive the journey but she did! After a team of consultants spent time assessing her they then spoke with us to tell us that there was nothing else they could do for her. These are words that no parent should have to hear. We were in shock but they told us to spend as much time as possible with her. Our parents came to see her and our little girl, Jessica came to see her baby sister. Jessica was 3 at the time but she was able to make some memories with her little sister. She kissed her and sang her ‘Twinkle Twinkle’. Those are memories I will never forget.

On the evening of the 20 th October we had to make the difficult decision to turn off Jenna’s life support. 42 hours after she came into this world she left again. Just a brief visit! Jenna died in her mummy and daddy’s arms knowing only love.

And just like that my life changed, all our plans for our new life as a family of 4 were cruelly taken from us the night we had to turn off Jenna’s life support. There are no words to describe the grief in the days and weeks that followed Jenna’s death.

Having never being a runner before I have no idea why I started to running but I remember just wanting to escape a house full of sadness. I soon realised that when I ran I could process my thoughts and feelings.  I used the time out running to try and deal with my grief and process my thoughts. It was like the more I ran the better I became at surprising my grief and coping with my new normal.

It has been nearly a 3 years since we had to say goodbye to Jenna and although life goes on and you have to put your life back together piece by piece but the sadness will never go away completely.  There are days when the smallest thing can trigger a memory or a thought about what could have been. 

After 2 years I could no longer out run my grief and decided that I need to talk to someone. So with the help of Sands Lothian, I get regular counselling and attend a support group for Bereaved Dads. We started the support group for the Dads about 18 months ago and this year we will around 10 bereaved dad running the men’s 10km which is amazing! Please look out for us in our Sands Lothian Running Vests.

It may be a bit farfetched to say running saved my life but is has been my anti-depressant during the dark times. Whilst I am still trying to come to terms with what’s happened I still manage to run 4 times a week most weeks and run a few races a year.

Having signed up for many events since my 1 st race in April 2017 the men’s 10km is one of my favourites. What’s better than running around the city centre of Edinburgh and that sprint finish inside Murrayfeild. Being an Ambassador will help raise awareness of beavered dads who are often forgot about and suffer in silence. If there are any beavered dads reading this please know that is ok not to be ok.Inspired? Watch, read and enjoy more content from our fantastic crop of 2019 Edinburgh Ambassadors at mens10k.com/edinburgh-ambassadors. If you’ve not yet taken the leap, secure your spot on a Men’s 10K start line this year at mens10k.com/mydetails.

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Duncan Whyte – Blog 1

Duncan Whyte – Ambassador Blog 1

Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a rather big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance. Choose fixed-interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisure wear and matching luggage. Choose a three piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fabulous fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on
that couch watching mind-numbing sprit-crushing game shows, stuffing plastic junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, wasting your last in a miserable home nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, messed-up brats you have spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life…. But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life: I chose something else.

The immortal words of Edinburgh’s very own down and out poet Mark Renton in Danny Boyle’s 1996 film adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s novel Trainspotting. It is both aspirational yet empty, safe but frightening and an attritional social commentary on the spiritual pitfalls of western consumer capitalism. It doesn’t fail to strike a chord within me and is a monologue which only resonates with greater efficacy 23 years later.

In the year of the films release, I was a 14 year old schoolboy, desperately wanting to fit in and hopelessly failing, longing for my days in the Scottish education system to cough me up so I could reset, start again, find my way, find myself. For as long as I can remember, I have always been painfully shy. I remember regularly going into a local sweet shop with my younger sister who very eloquently conversed with the shopkeep with lyrical ease to create her bespoke 10p mix whereas I pointed and nodded awkwardly in order to fill those small white paper bags that only seem to be the packaging of choice for such confectionary conveyers. As puberty took its grip, I further withdrew into the safety of my shell and the concept of just being able to make it to adulthood was a defined goal. Then everything would be ok. A job, big television, friendship, family, kids…. This seemed like a pretty satisfactory objective for a young man who was the only male in a single parent household in the last throws of conservative Thatcherism to aspire to.

I did well at school and left with a suite of qualifications that left me in the very fortunate position to be able to go to University. I was lucky to be learning about something I was passionate about and there were a range of experiences such as flat shares and part time employment that supported me to integrate into society through the things I had learned, realisations that I had had and through some great people I met. I developed some coping strategies to manage social situations with less shame and embarrassment and to all ends was making my way in the world, if a little ungainly. I even had the electric tin opener and CD player to prove it.

Upon finishing my higher education, I had moved through a few relationships, meandered from job to job and got a bit lost. It was time for a new path, a new city, a fresh start. It was here I found my vocation, met the woman who would become my wife and is what I consider to be one of those sliding doors moments of my life. I embarked on a career, started paying into a pension, took out a mortgage, got married, and went on holidays although sadly I have never owned a shell suit to match my suitcases. This is definitely still a life goal. Over the years I had found a range of ways to get by, to overcome the introversion, nervousness, shyness and inhibition. Some healthy, some not so much. It took being confronted about this by my partner that Ied me to first seek help. I rang the GP and made an appointment. I wasn’t sure if I would actually go or not but I did. It was hard. We talked things over. It was then I discovered that I suffer from anxiety. Something that everyone experiences from time to time and is a natural and necessary part of the human condition but what for some people can be chronic and life affecting. What I had mistaken for shyness or social ineptitude was actually a disorder that explained many things. Regular feelings of unease, overanalysing trivial events, playing over and over worst case scenarios in my head in the lead up to future occurring’s in my life, feeling restless, trouble sleeping and an underlying sense of panic. With medical help I accessed a range of different support strategies including cognitive behavioural therapy (wasn’t for me), medication (made me feel worse) and face to face counselling (useful but limited to a finite number of sessions due to strains on our NHS). However, like Ewan MacGregors character in the film, I chose something else. I chose running.

I had always been a very active individual. I dabbled with running a little at University as a means to stay trim as my student diet threatened to catch up with me. I enjoyed it as it gave me a sense of purpose, provided an ideal excuse for further procrastination from my studies. This however was without a soundtrack as CD players were feckless to run with (even with the latest shock protection technology of the time) and MP3 was yet to revolutionise how we all listen to music. So I returned to running again in my early thirties. Mental health whilst still having an aura of stigma associated with it is certainly not the taboo subject it once was and much great work has been done to break down barriers in relation to this. Mental health is a topic I talk about a lot in my work and which as a result I have learned a lot about and I have grown to understand myself, my condition and how to manage this more effectively. Upon lots of reading up on the positive impact of physical activity on mental wellbeing, and on taking advice from the health services I had been supported by, I decided to get myself a pair of trainers and go for a run again.

I run most evenings and find this to be a cathartic way to wind down after a busy day. I can mull over the day that has been and the one that lies ahead in a fixed time period that allows me to free up my mind at other times to focus on the things that matter, my family. Running helps me be a better dad, husband, friend and colleague. I don’t always find running easy and motivating myself can be a challenge at times. However, I invariably feel better after having stretched my legs, body and mind and the sense of release and satisfaction post run always rewards in ways that I found other pursuits don’t. I like to enter organised events as they give me a target, something to aim for, a purpose to it all and undertaking mass participation events gives me a genuine buzz. I enjoy running shoulder to shoulder with other runners each with their own reasons for running and I have found there to be real solace and a sense of community amongst those who beat the street. I have found runners come in all shapes and sizes, every age, gender and cultural demographic are represented and from all diverse walks of life. The running community excludes no one and embodies a set of values that I have found provide a sense of belonging which sometimes sadly rarely exists in other facets of modern day living. I have medals to reflect my participation in 5k’s, 10k’s and this year at the Edinburgh Marathon Festival, I completed my first half marathon.

I am taking part in the Men’s 10k in Edinburgh this year because of my love for the city and my passion for supporting Men’s health and in particular male mental wellbeing. My grandparents live in Granton, not too far from Renton et al. in Trainspotting and I spent many a school holiday exploring the city’s streets. They are wonderful people and I visit them with my own children regularly. Furthermore, through my own experiences and through my work I have come to learn that men are less likely to talk about their mental health and men are less likely to access support than their female counterparts. Suicide is the leading cause of death in males under the age of 49 in Scotland and events such as the Men’s 10k can put the spotlight on such issues and demand a wider open dialogue about how such statistics can be turned around. I feel honoured to be chosen to be an ambassador for the Men’s 10k in Edinburgh 2019 and hope to see many of you reading this at the start line on November the 3rd on the Royal Mile.

In my next blog, I will reveal the charity that I will be running for in the event, what motivates me to run and keep running and what I have been upto in order to get myself ready for race day.Inspired? Watch, read and enjoy more content from our fantastic crop of 2019 Edinburgh Ambassadors at mens10k.com/edinburgh-ambassadors. If you’ve not yet taken the leap, secure your spot on a Men’s 10K start line this year at mens10k.com/mydetails.

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Greg Cann – Final Blog

Greg Cann – Final Ambassador’s Blog

YYYEEEEEEAAAAAAHHHHHH BAAAABBBBYYYYYYY! Mens 10K, thats what I’m talking about….

I had great plans for the week’s run up. After the exertions of last weekend’s Race to the Tower, 52 miles and thousands of feet elevation, I was planning some rest, a couple of loose runs and lazy day ahead of the Sunday….BUT, crappy times at work, feeling low and lethargic, and then a day of reffing at the Homeless Rugby International meant only ONE run and on my feet most of 48 hours before the run (and a rock gig and a couple of beers – but that was self-inflicted!)

So Saturday evening was spent resting up, eating and packing small bag – couple of gels to choose, chew bloks and drinks…pack the red ‘intraINing’ shirt and some socks – we are good to go. Scotrail did the business Sunday morning and I arrived at Riverside with plenty time to warm up.

Love the Mens 10K as you always meet a similar group of people – first surprise of day; received a text from an old friend I’d first met 20 plus years ago when in America. He had seen my Ambassador blogs and was running as well – could we meet? HELL YEAH – nice start to the day. He had recently run the London Marathon and was, like me, using running as a way of personal fitness as well as raising awareness of a good cause – in this case for MS. Nice work Grant! We met up again after and will do our best to stay in touch more!!

So, into the pen and ready to go…apprehensive and excited, as well as surprisingly emotional. Mentioned in my last blog, this year is the 15th Anniversary of my Dad’s death, and with kids myself, running a Men’s race on Father’s Day, seeing all the children with signs for their Dads, I have to admit I did tear up a couple of times while running…BUT great work to every dad that ran, and their kids that supported!

Fantastic route, with plenty of support – packed the music in after 5k and enjoyed the atmosphere. Even sort of enjoyed the rain around Glasgow Green – helped me take mind off the hidden hills that kept appearing!!!  Felt pretty good for at least 7k – second surprise of day, was overtaken by the legend that is Scott Meenagh. Some of you may know of him, but he was a promising young rugby player who joined the Army, but while serving lost both his legs – he now competes in Paralympic disciplines and is SERIOUSLY fit. Was great to chat (briefly) to him as he almost flew across the bridges and away! Apparently his first Mens 10K…45mins?! How can you not be motivated by someone like Scott – so inspirational!

I finished in my target of sub 50mins…depending on what watch you look at, something around 46/47 mins. Looks like I am at a plateau since that is the same time(s) as the last 3 years, but I am comfortable now with myself, my pace and am NOT constantly comparing myself to times & other runners. Not the fastest (saw someone came in around 33minutes! HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?!), but the pace is unimportant – today more than ever, it is the belief in completing, the passion to compete and complete, no matter the distance. It is using the time to think and free/clear the mind and focus on what is important to YOU… whatever your reason for running today (and in past/future), WELL DONE. While we share a lot, our motivations are personal, important and should NEVER be withheld…

I continue to be honoured to have been selected as an Ambassador for Mens 10k (Glasgow) – it has been a fantastic opportunity to promote my thoughts and hopefully raise awareness around men’s health, and in particular, mental health.

There are too many people to thank for this, but Michael and the Men’s 10k crew for selecting and supporting; Robert at SAMH for being a sounding board; Running Dads and various twitter accounts for putting up with my tweets and musings; work colleague(s) & friends for encouragement & support (and putting up with my ‘swelfies’); Family for EVERYTHING… <3. Now, time for bacon sandwiches, tea, cake and biscuits…whatever you are up to, with whomever, enjoy it. Thanks to you all… G

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Greg Cann – Blog 4

Greg Cann – Ambassador Blog 4

OH.MY.DAYS…only 5 weeks to go 🙂 …that was the thought at the beginning of May.

With my place confirmed for Race to the Tower (RTTT) at start of June, and the Men’s 10k the week after, something got very real (as they say!). Decided to focus on the RTTT training plan to ensure I had the stamina – after all, if can run 52 miles (80 km) over 2 days, surely a 10km run would benefit?!

SO, longer runs… back to back days run… hill runs…runs with food (not as nice as sounds!)…runs in the rain – you get the drift! Feeling stronger, enjoying the lighter nights still, and fitting in some more activity around the daily grind of miles: touch, gym, playing with Max, work!!

While out running, my mind wanders – Various topics…music, work, family, self, problems, successes, the future etc etc. The time alone allows me the break to think (or to forget!) about things. This month a couple of thoughts came up:

(1) Why was I pushing myself to go through 52 miles? Well, that was easy…a weekend away, and the chance to sample some new sights and trails. Ran the whole weekend with NO MUSIC, focusing instead on my form and how I felt – pushing through the pain of the hills and the mileage by focusing on ME and what I know the runs were doing to my physical AND mental fitness.

(2) Then the 10k that would be following RTTT – was I stupid to have entered both? Did I deserve to be an Ambassador? Could I actually do the run justice? Thinking about these things allowed me to check off some points….maybe I had been foolish to sign up to all, but by pushing ourselves, it focuses the mind on what we need to do to achieve. By following the plan set out, I knew I had the mileage and ability to run the distances…something that we can all then take with us outside of running: FOCUS & PLAN. Did I deserve to be an Ambassador? When my mental fitness drops, I constantly question myself – we all do. Periods of time when we don’t have faith or confidence in our own abilities…but by again focusing on our strengths and having BELIEF & RESILIENCE, allows us to make the steps back up. Why couldn’t I be an Ambassador – hopefully some people have read the blog and if ONE person changes a belief about themselves, or makes a decision to start improving their, or someone elses, life, then it will be a job well done. We are not taking part in this to compete against others,  but to raise others up and help people achieve their personal goals.
 
I love the Men’s 10k – every year in Glasgow it take place and hundreds of men (& women!) turn out to show strength and enjoyment in something that anyone can do, but few choose…

It always falls around Father’s Day – a very interesting & conflicting time for me. As a Dad, I love sport & physical activity and love sharing this passion with my kids as well as spending time with them being a father. Each of my three kids are very different…they do/did enjoy sport,  and while some cant be bothered anymore, each of them has enjoyed had some special time with me because of some form of sport or physical activity and I wouldn’t change that for anything. June 16th is also the anniversary of my own Father’s death – this year will be tough for me…it’s the exact date of Father’s Day, and I will be running the Men’s 10k. My relationship with Dad wasn’t brilliant – we were different people, with different ways of living – especially as I got older. We went through years of not talking at all, only really reconciling once he had been given the news of his illness. Typically as men, we never talked about stuff, and his generation would never open up about how he felt. One reason the Men’s 10k is so important, and why I try to raise awareness around Mental Health, is because it/we need to challenge this!

I miss him every day, resent the illness that took him, and am so disappointed that he only met one of his grandchildren, and would never meet Ruby, who would turn out to be his only granddaughter. We ALL have our special reasons for running, and for me, this year’s 10k will be for him…

Whatever YOUR reason for running – whether it be the 10k, a marathon, ultra, or simply around the park with your kids…just do it! (Apologies to a well-known kit supplier)…

Get out there and enjoy – see you on the start line (or at George Square finish!)

THANKS FOR READING AND SUPPORTING…G

Inspired? Watch, read and enjoy more content from our fantastic crop of 2019 Ambassadors at mens10k.com/ambassadors. If you’d still like to be part of this year’s event, you’ll have to be quick! All entries close at noon on Friday 14th June! Sign up at mens10k.com/mydetails.

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Greg Cann – Blog 3

Greg Cann – Ambassador Blog 3

‘We never lose our demons…we only learn to live above them’

8th October …6 months later

The start of April was a tough month for us as a family – it marked six months since my wife’s younger brother took his own life. This was a MASSIVE shock to us all, and while the wider family knew things to be tough, no-one ever thought he would take this ultimate step and end things in the way he did. While I had been aware of the impact of mental wellbeing for a while (due to the nature of my job), it was this event in October really made me think about what mental fitness meant to me, and how I needed to review how I maintained mine.

For years, I was one of the majority that only ever viewed ‘mental health’ as ‘mental illness’…a negative thing…a negative. I have since become far more aware that mental health is aligned with ourselves in the same way that physical health is – everyone has it, and it can go up and down as a matter of course.

When we feel ‘down’ this is a dip in our mental health and we should look to try and improve, in the same way as if we felt tired and our physical health was poor we would take something for it. Loads of things can impact on mental fitness, and it can be different for everyone, but more importantly should NEVER be ignored. There are also loads of ways that we can help ourselves and our mates – simply talking is a good start! For me, as already outlined, running, exercise & music are ways I look to help myself. Unfortunately, things were too much for Chris and maybe he didn’t or wasn’t able to see the support that he needed, which is why he did what he did…

The quote at the start of the blog takes on a new meaning with this in mind….did you recognise it? It’s from Marvel, and the words that The Ancient One says to a colleague in the movie Dr Strange (my life
can be a trail of strange and obscure references , quotes and music lyrics!).

The demons I relate to are our worries, our scares, our negative thoughts…we always carry them, and must learn to rise above them and function and cope. Sometimes, and in the case of my brother-in-law,
the demons (or monsters) take over, and this doesn’t or can’t happen 🙁

He is constantly in our thoughts and is another driver in my running ‘career’ – RIP Chris

Good for you, you fooled everybody
Good for you, you fooled everyone…
Don’t get angry, don’t discourage
Take a shot of liquid courage
’Cause my monsters are real, and they’re trained how to kill
And there’s no comin’ back and they just laughed at how I feel
And these monsters can fight, and they’ll never say die
And there’s no goin’ back, if I get trapped I’ll never heal
Yeah, my monsters are real

April – 1 month til the Glasgow Mens 10k – Found out at the start of the month that I also had a space on the race to the Tower event. A double trail marathon, 52 miles run over 2 days in the Cotswolds…a MAJOR reason to up the training! Fantastic event and venue, but BRUTAL hills…makes Glentress relatively easy in comparison!

SO, after getting over March Man-Flu (a particularly vicious strain!), I was back on it from 1st of the month. First test up was the Kilomathon, a 13.1km run in Edinburgh on 7th April – my goal was to finish under 1hour 5mins and ‘better’ time from two years before!

Despite a MAJOR faff getting to start line (who knew Scotrail didn’t run trains into capital that early on a Sunday?!), a nice morning saw me enter Murrayfield stadium in 1 hour 04…NICE ONE!

The usual training followed: some Parkrun activity, couple of longer training runs, some touch ruggers, gym-work, HIIT/WOD’s, hill shuttles with littlest Cann and even some golf to mark the arrival of warmer weather (for one weekend anyway!). Training almost back on track for the month – good to get some miles under belt and on whole, physical and mental fitness has been good. Lighter nights and nicer weather always helps as well.

I’m feeling confident for the Men’s 10K, and more happy now not constantly clock-watching and judging myself and my performance against others and time! Glad to say as well that (as you can see), my selfie- game is still NOT strong!

So moving into May – the training plan ramps up…more activity and some longer distances. Will be adding some trails into the plan – getting up into Beescraig & possibly the Pentlands. Checking out what nature can offer and help support my mental & physical fitness!

Be aware that May is Mental Health Awareness Month so check out some details and review YOUR mental fitness…why not get in touch with a mate and ask them how they are? Remember, we all have monsters and #itsoknottobeok. A simple ‘How are you?’ can make a world of difference…

Take care – have great month and see you at the start line…!

Greg

Inspired? Watch, read and enjoy more content from our fantastic crop of 2019 Ambassadors at mens10k.com/ambassadors. If you’ve not yet taken the leap, secure your spot on a Men’s 10K start line this year at mens10k.com/mydetails.

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Richard Fenton – Blog 3

Richard Fenton – Ambassador Blog 3

So April has been a good month of running after my short illness which slowed me down in March, the break in the weather was certainly a welcome treat over Easter and really did test my mettle under warmer circumstances – a good reminder that you need to make sure that you are hydrated when you are out running on warmer days. It doesn’t need to be cracking the pavements, but just a slight increase in temperatures will mean that you have to up your game when it comes to those vital running fluids!

With the longer days of spring and summer comes a greater window of time in which to run. Personally I like to get out nice and early for my training runs, this gives me two major advantages: firstly by going out in the morning I personally feel more energetic and keen to run longer distances, secondly nothings starts the day off better than knowing that before you begin you’ve already completed a good run. It really sets you up for a good day ahead and it defiantly increases my overall energy levels for the day.

April has been a good for progression when it comes to my distance, my last three runs have all been hitting the 10k mark which is great because now know that I can complete the full distance on the big day, my confidence is also growing which means I can concentrate on enjoying the day when it arrives.

May will be a vital month for me as I want to beat my PB, so I have decided to change up a couple of things outside of my running to give me the edge I will need to beat me. May will be a dry month all the way up until race day and I will be watching what I eat too. Nothing major, no diets, just reducing sugars and fatty food and less red meat. I did this last year in the run up to a big race and it made a huge difference to my performance on the day; little changes can deliver big results.

All in all training is now going well and I can’t wait to see everyone again at the start line for this great event, but the real fun comes at the moment when you cross the finish line, no matter what your time or how tired you are at the end nothing beats that feeling of finishing your race, if this is your first race I am a bit jealous as the first time you do this it’s the best feeling in the world.Inspired? Watch, read and enjoy more content from our fantastic crop of 2019 Ambassadors at mens10k.com/ambassadors. If you’ve not yet taken the leap, secure your spot on a Men’s 10K start line this year at mens10k.com/mydetails.

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Ross Russell’s 10K run for SAMH

Ross Russell’s 10K run for SAMH

Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50 in the UK – a statistic that resonates with 25 year old Ross Russell who has had some very real struggles with his mental health in the past few years.

Ross is currently in training for the Men’s 10K Glasgow on 16th June and has decided to fundraise for the Scottish Association of Mental Health (SAMH) – a charity who put mental health care and awareness at the forefront of their work.

Here’s Ross’ story:

“Two years ago, I finally opened up about struggling with mental health issues after over a year of not feeling myself and not realising that I needed help. The problems started shortly after entering my third year of university in September 2015. I was making a two hour round trip most days, wasn’t enjoying the course, was struggling to make friends and started falling behind with work and submissions.

After months of stress – trying and failing to keep up with assignments, I stopped attending and eventually dropped out in early 2016. I didn’t have a job at the time, so I was totally unemployed and no longer a student.

Job hunting wasn’t easy – applying to several jobs a day and hearing nothing back. When I finally managed to get a job in March 2016, I only lasted two months before quitting because I was experiencing panic attacks before and during shifts. I was dragged to my GP by my mum as I really didn’t think I could face going. I was put on anti-anxiety medication and offered counselling, which I accepted.

Waking up and spending every day sitting in the house either sleeping or applying for jobs I knew wasn’t going to hear back from, started taking its toll. I felt so low and my self-esteem was non-existent.

One Saturday night in March 2017, I broke down to my mum after a night out in town with friends. It was then, my mum helped me to realise that I needed to get help to get my life back on track. I was put on a course of antidepressants by my GP. Antidepressants were a last resort for me – I always said that I would never take them unless I really had to.

Three months later things started looking up and in June 2017, I was given a job interview for an apprenticeship with my local council. I started in August, was gradually taken off my antidepressants at the end of the year, and haven’t looked back.

These past two years (although I still have my bad days) I have never felt happier, and it’s all thanks to the support I’ve received from my friends, family and a few others who know who they are, especially my mum who I don’t think I’d still be here without.

Having experienced all of this, I want to do the best I can to try to help others who are battling their own mental health problems.

My message to anyone who is struggling: opening up about how you’re feeling is the most difficult part, but something as simple as talking to your loved ones can make the world of difference. People do care and things will get better.

Any size of donation for SAMH is greatly appreciated and will help motivate me in my training!”

To donate to Ross’ fundraising efforts, visit his JustGiving page here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ross-russell4.  Join in the chat on social media. Twitter – @Mens10k, Instagram – @mens10k, Facebook – Men’s 10K. #Mens10k #positiveMENtality

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Greg Cann – Blog 1

Greg Cann – Ambassador Blog 1

Have you ever agreed to something and then in hindsight wondered why? Have you ever been excited by an opportunity and then feel uncertain if you can carry on? You’re not alone…

I started running 2 (or 3!) years ago…I don’t remember exactly when or why – just felt I needed to do something to fill a gap and keep me occupied. At 40-something, I had been playing rugby for over 30 years and realised that it couldn’t continue – but I didn’t want to sit around and balloon in size. PARKRUN – that would be it! How hard could running 5k actually be…easy for a fit, rugby-playing afficionado of exercise – right? WRONG – it was torture. I remember the feeling and time – something I became obsessed with for almost a year.

After the 5k buzz, I started 10ks, then half marathons – that wasnt enough…I decided I needed on a goal. SO, I would use the new regime to raise money for a charity – one that I had been involved with personally and professionally for a couple of years. 2017 would see me run the equivalent of 10 marathons over 12 months…how hard could THAT be? Blooming murder actually…5k, 10k, Mens 10K, Kilomathon, Hairy Haggis, RED January etc etc, the list was endless…BUT I did it – finished some 14 months later (yeah yeah!)….WHAT NEXT? Wait and see…

So WHY have I carried on? Do you ever ask yourself the same question…? I found that running was my escape…from the pressures of work, from family squabbles…a time that was only me, (although usually with my second escape; music) and a space that allowed me to think, recharge my mind and get away from everything else. Through work partnerships, I found out more about the impact of physical fitness on mental health and began to realise that my mental health was all over the place – up and down constantly, linked to loads of external things that I had no control over – BUT YOU CAN IGNORE THEM ON A RUN!

I see firsthand the impact of physical activity on confidence, self-esteem and mental health of the people I worked with, especially amongst men who didn’t open up or talk about ‘that kind of thing’…so I ran, and carried on running, and will continue to run and exercise because I know the power and impact it has on me, and on every individual that gets out there…

This is why I am so excited and honoured to have been selected as an Ambassador for Men’s 10K Glasgow. Follow my journey to this year’s event and support…why not even get involved yourself!? You never know, you might just enjoy it!Inspired? Watch, read and enjoy more content from our fantastic crop of 2019 Ambassadors at mens10k.com/ambassadors. If you’ve not yet taken the leap, secure your spot on a Men’s 10K start line this year at mens10k.com/mydetails.

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