Posts Taged menshealth

Duncan Whyte – Blog 3

Duncan Whyte Ambassador Blog 3

With less than a week to go until race day for the Mens 10K in Edinburgh, I am starting to get excited for the event. The weather forecast for the week looks positive and here’s hoping it remains that way for Sunday 3 rd November at the start line on the Royal Mile where I hope to stand shoulder to shoulder with many of you reading this blog.

October seems to have gone past in a flash and has been peppered with amongst other things my birthday, a family holiday, far too much wine and much excited discussion about Halloween costumes from my 5 and 6 year olds respectively. A busy time for sure but nonetheless I have managed to keep pounding the pavement and continue at a pace with my training in preparation for the big day. Much of my running has now moved indoors as the nights draw in and the clocks have now gone back meaning darkness has invariably fallen before I get home from work never mind get changed and out for a run. This is a challenge for my own commitment and motivation as the prospect of boarding the treadmill at my local gym hardly makes my heart sing the way in which a brisk jog around the local park and all the sensory pleasures that are an intrinsic part of that does. Running face to face with a breezeblock wall or staring vacantly at 24hr news channels doesn’t really inspire the legs to keep turning but two recent visits to The Yard (see my previous blog post) in both Edinburgh and Dundee with my family have kept my fires burning and reinvigorated my determination to support this amazing charitable venture, to honour my responsibilities to those who have donated to this organisation through my just giving page (https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/duncan-whyte1), and to do my supporters and myself proud. Despite time away from home and the shortening days, my training has been going well and I am feeling positive about the physical and mental test that lies ahead. I don’t think I am quite in the shape to trouble my PB of 47:43 for a 10k but am hoping to make a sub 50 min time on Sunday.

I finished off my last blog by sharing that I was preparing to take part in my second half marathon. Having polished off a curry and a couple of cold beverages on a rare child free evening with my wife the night before, I can confirm that I completed the Great Scottish Run 2019 in Glasgow in a time of 1:53:57 which took nearly 4mins off my previous attempt at this distance. To say I was surprised would be an understatement. Whilst I have kept my running going over the course of the year it has certainly fluctuated as life has carved its own course of meandering paths and ups and downs throughout 2019. The rich food and alcohol turned out not to be the only way to ill prepare for the day. Normally I would look out all my essentials for race day the night before to ensure that I have all I need to run, stay comfortable and get home safely. In my childless glee I had neglected to do this and found myself rummaging around at a very unsociable hour on a Sunday morning trying to procure what I needed from home without waking the missus. The essentials were covered; shorts, t shirt, running socks, trainers, headphones, phone, gum etc. However two luxuries were nowhere to be found. Anti-chafe gel and plasters. Anyone who has run an extended distance will know exactly what these are for and the perils of running without them. Whilst I am undoubtedly rapidly approaching middle age (if I am not there already), my BMI remains to cling on to the ‘normal’ range if only just. However, rubbing thighs for 21.2km is not going to be fun for anyone and I would recommend anyone taking on this longer distance to liberally apply an appropriate gel pre-race to wherever you feel you need it. After all, you are worth it. The plasters of course are for protecting the most sensitive parts of anyone’s chest. This is something I have found to my cost especially when running in hot, humid conditions when the raw tenderness of sandpapered nipples has been felt for the following week. A simple band aid over your ‘mips’ (urban dictionary says this is a real term) can ease a whole lot of post-race recovery. I decided not to panic and planned a stop off at a large supermarket mid journey. What I envisaged to be a quick dash around the aisles turned out to be a bit more traumatic. Plasters, plasters, plasters, plasters, should be about here…. None left…double check…nope definitely none left….except…a child’s pack of plasters…peppa pig plasters. Fine I thought, my mips wont judge me and will thank me the next day. Next for the anti chafe gel. I tried every aisle, twice. Not a drop in sight. I can’t do this without this wonder serum. I must find a substitute. Time was now a factor. Think..think…I found myself back in the healthcare aisle. Then it happened. I turned and clocked what seemed like an oasis in the desert. KY Jelly. I wasn’t going to use it for its intended purpose(s) but surely it would do the trick, reduce the friction of my burning thighs. Before I knew it the most unlikely of bedfellows were in my basket. I headed for the self-checkout as I generally always do, scanned in a rush and looked out my credit card before the checkout spoke to me. Truth be told, it didn’t just speak to me, it felt like it spoke to the whole store. ‘Sorry, this item is not recognised, a colleague is on their way’. Before my heart could properly sink, my eyes fixated on the items in the packing area. As I lifted them, they met the gaze of a store assistant called Glenda. I know this because for what must have been just a few seconds, the world seemed to stand still and I had what felt like an age to decipher the letters on the store assistants name badge. The look on both our faces as we stood side by side at the checkout on a Sunday morning around 8.13am at my very light but curious shopping told two tales of disbelief as to what was happening. Things then seemed to snap back into real time and a swift key entry followed by some furious pressing of buttons had me on my way without a word being uttered between us. Glenda either meets a lot of people buying kids plasters and a sensual lubricant at all hours of the day or was just too polite to enquire further. Or perhaps the company have a policy of what goes on in store stays in store. Either way, I could swear the security guy at the door smiled at me as I made a hasty retreat to the exit. Not a good sign in any context. I made it to Glasgow, sorted myself out, really enjoyed the run, soaked up the atmosphere and felt a real sense of accomplishment in finishing the race at all and of course beating my previous time. I am very much looking forward to a similar experience in Edinburgh at the end of the week.It was unseasonably warm on that race day in Glasgow for late September and as I crossed the finish line and slowed my pace to standing still, I took a few minutes to catch my breath and congratulate some fellow finishers. Being such a warm day, my top was soaked and I decided to remove it as I walked through Glasgow Green. The air in my lungs and on my skin felt great. As my sense of post-race euphoria started to subside, I started to notice I was getting more attention than I was used to. Extended gazes from passers-by and some muffled smirking. What was going on? Then a child walked past me and duly pointed and laughed at me. I couldn’t work it out and put it down to some misplaced west coast sense of humour. It was when a man roughly my age and holding the hand of his daughter who would have been in the same year as mine had they gone to the same school walked past and hummed a tune at me with a wicked smile on his face that the penny then dropped. ‘Duh- duh, Duh-duh, duhduhduhduhduh-duh’. That tune is engrained in my brain like a twisted earworm from many an early morning being woken by my wee girl and crawling up on the sofa with her and switching on the TV for a few minutes before I need to make breakfast or role play in some terrible princess game. Peppa bloody pig. I looked down at my chest and loud and proud, having done the exact job they were procured for, still in perfect positioning were the child’s plasters I had bought earlier in the day. Of course in the days and weeks that have passed I have thought of lots of witty comebacks I could have retorted my tormentor with. None of which of course came to me at the time. All I could do was laugh at myself and then do what daddy pig would have done in such circumstances. Own the moment, walk like a boss and strut off into the sunset. I won’t forget that day in a hurry for lots of reasons.

Sharing what was a mildly mortifying experience on what was otherwise probably the best running experience I have had with you seems important for two reasons. Firstly, to ensure you have the best day possible, be prepared. Hopefully you have done some training already, gradually extending the length of your runs over an appropriate time period ensuring that you are in physical shape to take on what is a challenging distance. Be prepared to set yourself a realistic target of what you hope to achieve on race day and be prepared to exceed that as running with others nearly always results in quicker times. Be prepared at least the night before with all the essential and luxury items you need for the 3 rd November and plan out how you will get to and from the start and finish lines respectively in advance. This will lead to a more relaxed pre and post-race experience and add to what I am sure will be a great day for all those participating. Secondly, be prepared for an unshakable sense of solidarity with your fellow competitors who will be taking on the same endeavours as you. Be prepared for an overwhelming feeling of achievement and wellbeing on completion of the course that will last hours and days as the gravitas of your accomplishment sinks in. Be prepared for people on the streets and at BT Murrayfield shouting your name, spurring you on and getting right behind you as you seek to attain your personal goals. Be prepared to inspire others through your commitment and dedication in overcoming personal barriers. You won’t meet or hear from all the people who you affect through your involvement in the event, but you will have motivated someone somewhere to set their own individual goals and show the same gritty attitude towards achieving these as you set out to do on Sunday. Be prepared to promote the work of countless charitable organisations carrying out invaluable work in a myriad of settings supporting many lives. Be prepared to make the people who love and care for you proud. Finally, be prepared to be a focal point for raising awareness of men’s health issues. We all have men in our lives. We are all a man in the lives of others. We all matter and we all need to be better at looking after ourselves and at looking after each other. After all, that would be the manly thing to do now wouldn’t it?

I am hoping to 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 final blog, I will let you know how I got on, share my post-race thoughts and feelings and share some key messages on modern masculinity. Til then.

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 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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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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Ryan Watt: Why I’m running the Glasgow Men’s 10K for SAMH

Ryan Watt: Why I’m running for SAMH at the Glasgow Men’s 10k

Father’s Day was never a big deal in my family. Every year it panned out in more or less the exact same way, a trip with my sister in the car down to see our Dad at his flat in Troon. Equipped with a gift (usually a wooly jumper bought in the never-ending GAP sale) and a card. The gift and card being the only thing that distinguished this trip from any other weekly trip we would make to see him. In previous years, we would maybe venture out to the local cafe for a coffee and some food. Sadly, in more recent years, this visit was usually confined to his flat on account of his worsening health.

Last year, on Father’s Day, we again embarked on the car journey to Troon. The journey to our Dad’s flat. Sadly, on this occasion, it was to clear the flat out of all his belongings. He had passed away just a few days previously due to respiratory failure. Let me assure you, that day I would have done anything to give him the wooly jumper and card one last time.

My Dad had been suffering with COPD since around 2009 which naturally had a severe impact on his quality of life. To compound this, for as long as I can remember, he has had a running battle with his mental health, mainly chronic depression. Quite often he would have the upper hand in this battle, however, like many others who struggle with mental health there were extended periods where it got the better of him. I am no psychiatrist or doctor, but my experience with my Dad has exposed me to how mental health and physical health are intrinsically interwoven. There can be a vicious cycle between the two, a race to the bottom so to speak. In my Dad’s case, his poor physical health served to worsen his mental disposition, which lead him abuse cigarettes and cannabis, which only further worsened his mental and physical health. Like this, the cycle continued.

Throughout this sad time, my sister and I were acutely aware that any attempts to try and improve his physical health, and thus his quality of life, would be futile unless we were able to help him to a better place mentally. We tried going down the typical avenues to seek help for this, primarily through the NHS. Given the lack of public funding for mental health services, this usually involved a six month waiting list to see a psychiatrist, followed by another extended wait for a follow up appointment. In my Dad’s case this felt like putting an elastoplast on gaping wound. Looking back, I wish my sister and I had known about the incredible work of charities such as the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH), which is why I am writing this blog today.

As difficult as the last eight or nine years of my Dad’s life was, there was still a lot of laughs and happiness to be had. The relationship we had together was less that of a father and son, and more that of two lifelong friends. We would sit and listen to music, usually starting on the Beatles but progressing through the decades up to the current era. We would play guitar together. We would laugh at his inappropriate jokes. He was very easy to speak to. He spoke open and honestly about his mental health with me, even from a very young age.

Looking back, I can’t say how invaluable that has been to me. When I was in my early twenties, I had a spell of mild depression and severe anxiety, the latter of which I still manage on a day to day basis.

Thanks to my Dad not only was I equipped with the vocabulary on how to articulate what these feelings were, but I had someone with whom I could pick up the phone to and talk about it with which made me feel so much better. My sister would tell you the exact same thing. The need to share this knowledge and vocabulary with others, as well as the need for increased mental health service provision, feels greater
than ever.

That is why this Father’s Day I will be running in the Men’s 10K in Glasgow, to raise funds for the Scottish Association for Mental Health. SAMH are active in communities all across Scotland, providing mental health care and other vital services that are generally woefully underfunded by the government. I only wish I had been made aware of SAMH sooner. I cannot think of a better way to commemorate my late father and friend than to raise funds and awareness for a charity who make such a big difference to people suffering from mental health problems. Moreover, since his passing, my fiancé has becoming increasingly at pains to inform me that I have put on a few pounds (she’s going easy on me, its the best part of
two stone).

Given the aforementioned association between mental and physical health, training for this run can only do me the world of good. Though he is gone, my Dad is never far from my thoughts. Every other day I play his vintage Hofner guitar, listen to the music that he brought me up on and espouse his, often inappropriate, sense of humour (much to my fiancé’s dismay). Though I couldn’t be with him last year, he will be by my side every step of the way this Father’s Day. Cheering me on from the side, booting me up the backside when I start to tire, waiting for me as I cross the finish line.

He will be the wind on my back and the sun on my face. This, along with the massive amount of support and donations I have received, will keep me going, right to the end. I hope to do him proud, along with everyone who has supported this cause so far. To anyone else out there running to raise funds and awareness for SAMH or any other mental health charity, I leave you with the rather fitting lyrics of one of my dad’s favourite Neil Young songs.

Long may you run,
Long may you run,
Although these changes have come.
With your chrome heart shining,
In the sun,
Long may you run…

Read more and donate to Ryan’s JustGiving Page here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ryan-watt1.

To fundraise for SAMH at a Men’s 10K event this year, head to https://www.mens10k.com/charity/affiliates/?charities_id=88.

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Niall Darroch to run Men’s 10K in son’s memory

Niall Darroch to run Men’s 10K Edinburgh in son’s memory

Niall Darroch will run this year’s Men’s 10K Edinburgh for SANDS Lothians; a local charity who offer befriending and counselling to bereaved parents, and he predicts that it will be an “emotional experience” for many reasons.

In 2015, Niall’s son Ryan was stillborn despite the best efforts of staff at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Niall recalls:

“From the first difficult moments we felt the influence of SANDS Lothians.

“We were lucky to know a midwife friend who put us straight in touch with the charity, and they were able to support us from day one. They offer individual, family and group counselling, and events to help parents commemorate their babies. Not too long ago, stillborn children were whisked immediately away and parents encouraged to simply forget their babies as the way to recovery.

“The expert support SANDS Lothians offered really made the difference in coming to terms with Ryan’s stillbirth. We are able to think of him with love and pride, and being able to talk about such a difficult subject hopefully reduces the taboo that bereaved parents sometimes feel.

“Fundraising for this cause is really important to me for a number of reasons. First and foremost, helping SANDS Lothians fund their ongoing work means other families can be helped through difficult times. I knew that there would be a large and diverse group of SANDS Lothians supporters running the Men’s 10K, and I’m looking forward to being part of a pack of men with a shared focus.

“I’m also convinced of the mental health benefits of being active. I’m sure that running the Men’s 10K through my adopted hometown in the company of men all racing for the good of others and themselves will be an emotional experience.”

You can donate to Niall’s JustGiving page here.  

If you want to join Niall and thousands of others on the start line on the Royal Mile next month, there’s still time. Late entries are available until 5pm on Wednesday 1st November. Find out more and enter at https://www.mens10k.com/edinburgh/.

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Men’s 10K Glasgow launches for 2018

Men’s 10K Glasgow launches for 2018!

Entries open today (Monday 26th June) for the 2018 Glasgow Men’s 10K. In keeping with tradition, next year’s event will take place on Father’s Day which falls on Sunday 17th June 2018.

The Glasgow Men’s 10K, along with its brotherly Edinburgh event, aims to be a catalyst for men across Scotland and even further afield to take control of their health and make a genuine, positive change. Each year, thousands of guys come together to complete the Men’s 10K, each with a different reason for running, whether that is to gain fitness, lose weight, quit smoking or raise funds for a charity close to their heart.

Regardless of time, each and every runner across the line at a Men’s 10K is held in equal esteem and fully deserves their medal, commemorative t-shirt, and race recovery pack. 

A fantastic city-centre route has become a mainstay of the Men’s 10K events and both Glasgow and Edinburgh offer just that. The Glasgow route takes in many of the city’s most iconic landmarks including the Glasgow Science Centre, the Armadillo, the SECC and Glasgow Green before a finish line to remember in George Square.

Event director Neil Kilgour said:

“The Men’s 10K plays such an important role in Scotland, inspiring thousands of men of all ages and abilities to make a genuine difference. Each and every guy that crosses that finish line is a hero in our eyes.”

Entries are open now, with discounted early bird entries available until midnight on Sunday 16th July. Head to https://www.mens10k.com/glasgow/. Charity entries are also available. To find out more about running for charity, including the event’s official charity Cancer Research UK, head to https://www.mens10k.com/charity/

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Jay Cruz Semple: “Men’s 10k Glasgow – my favourite event”

“Men’s 10k Glasgow – my favourite event”

“Men’s 10k Glasgow – my favourite event”. An easy and obvious sentence to open a blog about the Men’s 10k, and one you’d probably expected. But it’s true. It is in my heart, it’s a passion to me and part of who I am as a runner. But who am I?

My name is Jay Cruz Semple. I’m a visually impaired, 37 year old athlete from Glasgow, and I suffer from a degenerative eye condition, Choroideremia, which affects the blood cells around the retina leading to a total loss of sight.

Back in 2012, the Glasgow Men’s 10k was my first ever running event. My eyesight at that time was already deteriorating and I only had tunnel vision. Two close friends had lost their father to prostate cancer in May 2012, and my poor eyesight was not going to stop me running in his memory, and raising money for a deserving charity.

I ran a further 28 races that year, running in my trademark kilt and raising money for Prostate Cancer, Macmillan and Cancer Research UK. Of all the events, the Men’s 10k remained my favourite – for the route, the piper leading runners to the start, the amazing support along the route and the family atmosphere.

Fast forward five years; I’ve completed every Glasgow Men’s 10K since my first. There was a wobble in 2013 when the event nearly didn’t go ahead. I campaigned furiously with the running community and local councillors to ensure the event continued. The Men’s 10k is the only event on the calendar aimed solely at men, and promoting men’s health issues. New organisers were brought in, the Edinburgh Men’s 10K was added in 2015 (which I will hopefully complete this year) and there was talk of a London event; I think this would be an amazing addition to the running calendar. I was the official starter for the Glasgow edition in 2016 which being a Glaswegian myself was a great honour and a fabulous experience.

I am now a father to a beautiful 4-year-old son, which adds an extra something to the Men’s 10k as it is always held on Father’s Day and Tyler-James is there to greet me at the finish line. My eye condition has deteriorated to the point where I can no longer see his cheeky wee smile, and the drawings and pictures he brings home from nursery.

I now require a running guide to participate in events but haven’t let this stop me. I aim to represent my country at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, and recently completed my first marathon in Stirling, where I met my running idols, Liz McColgan and Zola Budd. Men’s 10K Glasgow 2017 will be my 100th race, all wearing my kilt. I travel around the UK to compete in events raising awareness of my condition, and funds for the private treatments necessary to hopefully help me see my son again.

To donate visit: justgiving.com/crowdfunding/jaycruz

To follow my progress, follow me on social media: facebook.com/JayCruzSemple/

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Men’s 10K Glasgow to mark number 327 of Dunbartonshire man’s 365 10Ks challenge for Dementia Charities

Men’s 10K Glasgow to mark number 327 of Dunbartonshire man’s 365 10Ks challenge for Dementia Charities

Maurice Donohue from West Dunbartonshire will run the Glasgow Men’s 10K on Father’s Day, Sunday 18th June as part of an incredible challenge which he embarked upon last summer. Maurice pledged to run 365 10K races and 27 Half Marathons in 365 days, in a bid to raise funds and awareness for the Sporting Memories Network and Race Against Dementia which offer support to dementia sufferers and fund research into a cure for the condition, respectively. His decision to raise for these charities is part of a tribute to two Dunbartonshire-born sporting legends: Formula 1’s Jackie Stewart who has seen his wife suffer from dementia in recent years, and Jackie’s namesake Lachie, who won Commonwealth Gold in the 10,000m for Scotland at the 1970 Games in Edinburgh.

Maurice commented: “I am particularly passionate about two things; sport and helping to tackle dementia. My first love is distance running and helping people to get active. As a proud resident of West Dunbartonshire, I wanted to honour my sporting heroes Lachie and Jackie Stewart. I hope the challenge I’m taking on will help raise awareness of dementia, get people physically active and support the fight against dementia, celebrating the role that sport can play in this battle.”

Maurice, pictured above after his 289th 10K in Dumbarton this week, is firmly on track to achieve his target having also completed six half marathons to date. The Glasgow Men’s 10K will be 10K number 327, pushing Maurice ever closer to his pledge, which has also been officially passed by the Scottish Parliament with their best wishes. To add an extra sprinkling of startdust to proceedings, Maurice will also be joined on the Glasgow start line by MSP and Olympian Brian Whittle who raised the motion referenced above and is fully in support of Maurice’s #RunWithMaurice campaign.

You can find out more about Maurice’s fundraising and make a donation here.

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