Men's Health

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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Richard Fenton – Blog 1

Richard Fenton – Ambassador Blog 1

I ran my very first competitive 10k in September of 2017 and got myself a time of 49:33 after training for seven months from a standing start and being two stone overweight. The second I crossed the finishing line, I knew I had caught the running bug. That’s why I signed up for a few more races including the 2018 Men’s 10K Glasgow where I managed a time of 50:15. Since then I have completed 10 more events of varying distances and types, but as far as 10k races go, my favourite event is the Men’s 10K which is why I am back again this year with a target to beat my best time!

As I write I have really begun to step up my training with a mix of road running and on those cold icy days getting into the gym and onto the treadmill. If you have signed up for your first run and you are happy to take some advice around training, I have a couple of suggestions which worked very well for me. Firstly one foot in front of the other, then repeat; may seem obvious but pace isn’t really important at this type of event, it all about getting to the start line and moving forward to the finish and enjoying the journey. This rule applies to training too which is very important; the fact is the more you train the more fun you will have on the day. Secondly eat the right stuff, fuel is vital when training and even more so on race day. You don’t have to get a team of nutritionists involved, for me its peanut butter on toast with sliced up banana to make a toasted sandwich and a bowl of porridge, two hours before, for you it may be something entirely different, although I would recommend staying away from a fry up.

As it stands I am up to pace with my distance so getting in some regular 10k runs. I recently managed to cover 10k out on the road in just under 53 minutes, so quite pleased given that I am 49 in May this year. One thing that I always love about race day is the fact that you get boost to your pace time, which means whatever your best time is training you are more than likely going to smash that on the day, the reason is simple, you get carried along with the pace of your fellow runners and the atmosphere – the Men’s 10k has one of the best.

I will be back again soon with another blog and hopefully a video, in the mean time you may see me out on the roads of East Kilbride or on the trails in Calderglen, either way good luck with all your own training efforts! 
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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Mental Health Benefits of Running
Mental Health Benefits of Running

Mental Health Benefits of Running

Apart from the obvious health benefits that running or jogging can give you, it can provide many psychological advantages too. No matter your circumstance, running can help ease your mind and get you back on the right track. Here are some positive changes that running can bring to you:

1. Stress Reliever

Whatever you are stressing about, getting active can significantly reduce this. Lacing up your trainers can help with relaxation, anxiety and negative thinking cycles. Running can help your body control stress and deal with existing mental tension. Long distance runs can help you solve problems that have been nagging you. Whilst shorter speed runs can reduce aggression and tension. Make running your new friend.

2. Your new sleeping pill

Nobody wants to be tossing and turning in bed late at night. Indulging in physical exercise, whether that is running or another form, can be your new way of counting sheep at night. Moderate exercise can also significantly improve the sleep of insomnia sufferers.

3. Decreases Depression

Running can be a fantastic way of combatting that sluggish and withdrawn feeling that is associated with depression. Regular exercise can boost your mood if you have depression, and it’s especially useful for people with mild to moderate depression. Running can take your mind off worries so you can get away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression and anxiety.

4. Self-esteem boost

If you’re suffering from low self-esteem in adulthood, go for a run and watch your confidence soar. Exercise releases feel-good endorphins, natural brain chemicals that can enhance your sense of well-being. Exercising in the great outdoors can also result in lowered blood pressure and increased self-esteem. Get your running shoes on and watch your confidece soar.

5. Increased Creativity

An envigorating run can boost creativity for up to two hours afterwards. Next time you find yourself staring at a blank page waiting for a genius idea to pop into your head, get those legs moving and refresh your body and brain at the same time by going on a jog.

So the next time you’re having a bad day or you want that extra hour in bed, remember all the benefits your body will enjoy from getting active.

Samaritans are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 116 123.
CALM, an anonymous helpline for men is open 7 days a week, 5pm to midnight. 0800 58 58 58.

It’s okay not to be okay. Let’s keep talking.

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Men’s 10K Glasgow inspires positive change for men across Scotland

Men’s 10K Glasgow inspires positive change for men across Scotland

The Men’s 10K Glasgow continues to produce an event day like no other; each runner’s personal journey and reason for running adding to the atmosphere and vitalizing the collective identity that the event is built on.

Over 2,500 men took to the streets of Glasgow on Father’s Day, Sunday 17th June in ideal running conditions – the morning rain clearing just in time for the start of the run. Supported by local crowds along the route, they tackled the stunning city-centre 10K from the Riverside Museum to George Square, taking in many of Glasgow’s most iconic landmarks along the way.

The event also coincided with the final day of Men’s Health Week; a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of a variety of men’s health issues.

Among the finishers was Martin Kilcoyne whose 10K run for Cancer Research UK (CRUK) was an emotional one. Martin explained:

“Last year my father was diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer and had multiple tumours which had spread rapidly. He had a brain tumour which was operated on, but a successful operation and a few months of good treatment eventually stalled and the tumours started to grow back.

“While on a break from his treatment down in London, he suffered a large stroke that led to him being left unable to communicate or get out of his bed, and doctors had no option but to end his treatment. He was taken home for end of life care at the start of November and passed away around a week after getting home.

“My brother and I decided that it would be a fitting tribute to our father to run the Men’s 10K for CRUK on Father’s Day.”

You can read more and donate to Martin’s JustGiving page here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/martin-kilcoyne.

The inspiration continued as William Shirriffs crossed the line at George Square, raising funds for the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH).

William was diagnosed with depression several years ago, and shared his journey to the start line:

“Looking back, I have no idea how I kept functioning and going to work. I managed to get the help I needed and over the course of a year and a half, I got back on track – I spent a great deal of time rebuilding, made some changes and started to going to the gym.

During the rough times, I relied heavily on techniques for managing my depression, as well as mental health services offered in Glasgow, and I’m proud that I’m back on track, now with more knowledge and awareness and even more ways to manage things if they start getting difficult.”

On his decision to fundraise for SAMH, William said:

“I believe that awareness and provision of support services for mental health is just as important as those for physical health.”

You can read more and donate to William’s JustGiving page here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/william-shirriffs10k.

SAMH also benefited from the Men’s 10K pacers team who, as big fans of Glasgow band Frightened Rabbit, wanted to remember lead singer Scott Hutchison who tragically took his own life last month. On Frightened Rabbit’s request, they made their donations to SAMH.

Hundreds more guys took part in today’s run raising money for charity, including the official charity Cancer Research UK. Together, runners are estimated to raise over £100,000 as a result.

Event Director Sandra Scott commented:

“We’re delighted that the Men’s 10K continues to inspire the men of Scotland and beyond to make a real, tangible and positive change to their lives. The atmosphere in Glasgow is always special, and we hope the runners enjoyed the incredible city-centre route and their whole Men’s 10K experience.

“Each year, we’re inundated with amazing runner’s stories, from those taking personal steps to better health and fitness, to those raising funds for charities close to their hearts. We are humbled to be a part of these personal journeys and congratulate each and every runner who crossed that line today.”

“Our ultimate aim is for the event to play a small but significant part of an urgent need to change the face of men’s health in Scotland and the rest of the UK.”

Scott added:

“We want to say a special thank you to the people of Glasgow who have shown such incredible support for the runners across the route and also to our Event Delivery Team who give their free time, skills and enthusiasm to ensure that every single runner enjoys a welcoming, safe and enjoyable event.

We hope that you wear your finisher’s t-shirt with pride and we look forward to seeing you all again.”

For those who want to continue the journey or who missed out on Glasgow, there is still another chance to join the fun when the Men’s 10K returns to Edinburgh later this year.

Edinburgh will host the event on Sunday 4th November just ahead of International Men’s Day with a stunning route that begins on the Royal Mile in the heart of Old Town and finishes in style at BT Murrayfield Stadium.

To find out more visit https://www.mens10k.com/edinburgh/ and to see the full list of finisher’s times from Glasgow, visit https://www.mens10k.com/glasgow/.

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Men’s 10K and Glasgow Rocks score slam dunk in new partnership

Men’s 10K and Glasgow Rocks score slam dunk in new partnership

The Men’s 10K this week signed off on a two-year partnership with professional basketball team Glasgow Rocks.

The Rocks, who are based at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow, are Scotland’s only professional basketball team and one of the leading franchises in the top-tier league.

Men’s 10K Marketing Director Annette Drummond believes the deal is a fantastic opportunity for both businesses. She said: “We’re delighted to have signed off on what is a really exciting partnership. The Rocks have a great club history and a fiercely loyal fanbase which we believe aligns really nicely with our Men’s 10K brand.

“The ultimate aim of the Men’s 10K is to get guys fit, active and healthy. We hope this partnership will enable us to build our brand recognition on the court and beyond and to get our message out to a new and engaged community.”

She added “Running a 10K is a great challenge for anyone whether they are just starting out or already taking part in regular sport. The benefits of exercise are universally accepted, but in the UK, we quite simply don’t do enough of it.

“Glasgow Rocks have a fantastic, community of supporters, but just watching sport is not enough. We hope that everyone who supports the Rocks also take part in a Men’s 10K where they can expect a taste of that brilliant, supportive atmosphere. So our message to Scotland’s men: stop saying “I could”, “maybe” and “I might”: take control of your life and create some positive change”.

The first Men’s 10K took place in Glasgow in 2004; started by the Men’s Health Forum Scotland as a focal point for raising awareness of men’s health issues. The Edinburgh event was added to the program in 2015 and both events continue to grow in popularity each year.

Daniel Bajwoluk, General Manager at Glasgow Rocks commented: “We are delighted to have partnered up with the Men’s 10K for the next two seasons. We, as an organisation, have always been advocates of getting people healthy and fit, especially via well established community programmes which are delivered by the players in partnership with our charity, Scottish Sports Futures. This new partnership with Men’s 10K gives us an opportunity to further build on the ‘be healthy, be active’ foundations we have created within the community. We would hope that our affiliation will inspire a new crop of men to try and take up running and get involved in the next 10K event that comes their way – I’m even thinking of getting involved myself.”

The 2017 Men’s 10K series concludes in Edinburgh on Sunday (5th November) where runners will tackle a city-centre route which starts on the Royal Mile and finishes at BT Murrayfield Stadium. The 2018 Glasgow Men’s 10K will take place on its traditional Father’s Day date, which next year falls on Sunday 17th June.

Find out more and enter at https://www.mens10k.com/.

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