Charity Profile: Mind

What’s this charity profile thing you’re including in the blog? Run Big Year is as much about the fundraising as it is about the running. As such I want to let people know a bit more about the charities that I am supporting. Charity Profiles entries will let me give a brief overview of each charity and why I’m supporting them

So who is featured in this profile? I gave Twitter users the chance to choose which charity top I would wear for my first race. They chose Mind so it seems appropriate to profile them first.

What do Mind do? Mind provide advice and support to anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They also work hard to raise awareness of mental health issues and promote understanding.

Who does this help? It is estimated that in any given year 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem. For some people this will be something they live with for their whole lives whilst for others it can be a short term situation where their normal coping mechanisms are overwhelmed. If you are lucky enough not to be directly affected then you probably know an awful lot of people who are. So this helps pretty much everyone!

I might need some help – how do I get it? It depends what help you need. The Mind website provides useful information about various mental health problems, how to cope with them and how to help others. The Mind Infoline (0300 123 3393) is available for information on types of mental health problems, where to seek help, what treatment is available and on advocacy. They also provide a Legal Line (0300 466 6463) for information and advice in relation to mental health law. They also have a yellow button at the top of their website for if you need urgent help. If this is the case you may also wish to consider calling the Samaritans on 116 123.

Are Mind a UK charity? Mind are active in England and Wales but not currently in Scotland or Northern Ireland. If you’re in Scotland you might find The Scottish Association for Mental Health useful. For Northern Ireland you can try Inspire (formerly The Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health).

So why have you picked Mind to support? When I chose my charities I wanted to pick a variety of causes. Each is important to me for different reasons, but Mind is perhaps the one that is most personal to me. I have previously been diagnosed with Social Anxiety and have had some times that weren’t so great. At the time of my diagnosis I felt that I did not get the support that I needed. I don’t want that to be the case for other people who need help.

Are you Ok? I’m doing fine at the moment, thanks for asking.

Is the Social Anxiety why you’re a bit rubbish on Twitter? Hey, be nice! But if by rubbish you mean why I don’t tweet much and don’t interact as much as I could with other users then I would say that it is certainly a factor.

So is there anything else that made you want to support Mind? Of course. I know a lot of other people who have had or are having mental health problems. This includes family, friends and colleagues – like I mentioned earlier this affects a lot of people. There is also a more sentimental reason too.

Oh? Care to share? This is not my first time as a Mind fund-raiser. On the last occasion I also blogged about it and it was this blog that inspired my wife to propose to me. She wasn’t my wife then of course.

Congratulations! Your story makes me want to raise money for Mind too. Where can I find out more? To find out more about fundraising for Mind just click here.

Monthly Summary: April

This was the month when Run Big Year finally started properly. My aims with this project included doing lots of races, setting personal bests and raising over £1000 for 5 charities. April truly delivered a flying start to this project with 2 races, 1 personal best and over £200 already raised. So what were the highlights of the month and what is next for Run Big Year?

On 2nd April I took on the CAVC Cardiff Bay Run, a scenic 10K race that represented a rebirth of the old Cardiff Bay 5 Mile Race. This scenic race took place in glorious sunshine and took in some stunning views. My expectations were that I would not be at my best for this race but I ended up only 3 seconds outside my 10K personal best. Along the way I also improved my Garmin Personal records for a mile and 5K to 7:41.9 and 25:06 respectively. I loved this race and couldn’t have asked for a better start to Run Big Year.

After the Bay Run I settled into a training routine of three runs per week. Tuesday mornings were generally runs of about 5 miles. Thursday runs were short runs to train up for my first 5K race at the end of the month. The weekends saw me building up longer runs ahead of taking on tougher races later in the year. My toughest workout was a 5.3 mile run out to Whitchurch, followed by a walk round the route of the Cardiff 5K Race for Victory and then a 7.03 mile run back from Whitchurch. The run back was tough and I did have to walk at some points. Overall though, I was happy with my form and training and felt in pretty decent shape by the end of the month.

The 30th April saw me take on the Cardiff 5K Race For Victory. This was something of a novelty for me as I had never before run a race as short as this and had never before run an evening race. As this was my first 5K I knew that it would be a personal best whatever time I ran but I was keen to set a good time and make sure that it beat my Garmin Personal Record for 5K set earlier in the month. The race went almost exactly as I had planned it and I improved my Garmin Personal Record for a mile to 7:22.2 on my way to a time of 23:53 for the race.

Overall April was a successful month for Run Big Year. May will not be as eventful as I have no races planned for this month. In terms of running this will mean a focus on training. For the blog this will hopefully give me the chance to write a couple of pieces about the charities that I am running for (Mind, Save the Children, HMSA, Llamau and Cancer Research). Beyond that I am considering signing up for the Swansea Half Marathon in June before taking on obstacle races in July and September. There is a lot more running still to come.


Race Report: Cardiff 5K Race for Victory

Well the second event of Run Big Year has come and gone with the Cardiff 5K Race for Victory. At 5K it is the shortest distance I’ve ever raced over and the 7pm start also meant it was my first evening race. So was this a triumphant first or a damp squib of a race?

I had spent the week before keeping a close eye on the weather forecast. There was rain on the way but it was uncertain when or how much there would be. With the race on a bank holiday weekend it did seem likely that the heavens were destined to open. However, when the race came around there were only a few drops in the air. It did get a bit heavier after the race but there was no downpour. I quite like running in the rain but was glad I didn’t have to stand around getting soaked while waiting for the start. As it turned out the conditions were pretty excellent for running, although spectators might have preferred it to be completely dry.

Appropriately enough the race was started by weather presenters Derek Brockway and Sue Charles. Where I was stood we were a bit crowded and the start had plenty of stopping and bunching as we approached the line. I was probably a bit further back than I should have been and did worry that I might get slowed up passing other runners. Fortunately, as we crossed the start line the bunching eased and the width of the road made it relatively easy to pass people.

Having visited the course last week as research for my preview of the race, I had decided that the best approach was to take up a good pace from the start. I then intended to use the downhill second kilometre to put in a fast section ahead of a hill at the start of the 4th kilometre. As such I would build a buffer against any necessary slowing for the hill.

The race plan went perfectly. I was sub 5 minutes for every kilometre, with my fastest kilometre being the second and the slowest the fourth as expected. I had a bit left in the tank at the end so had a nice little sprint over the final few hundred metres. The end result was an official time of 23:53, which put me in position 366 of 1446. Having targeted a sub 25 minute time, I was delighted with my run.

I enjoyed this race a lot, although it felt like it went by very quickly! The race village was packed, with plenty of people sampling the food and the pubs. Considering the weather, there was a good level of support along the whole route, no doubt due to the urban setting. As we crossed the finish line we were welcomed back by live music and a festive atmosphere. Had the weather been sunny then no doubt this would have been very lively indeed.

In summary this was a nice, fun event. I didn’t stick around afterwards but it looked like there was some good food and entertainment on offer going into the night. If you’re looking for a 5K to run next year then I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this race. But then again I’ve never run any other 5K race so what do I know?

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