Are You Mad?

I am known within my group of friends on occasion in conversation to mutter the words “I have an idea”, just like Michael Caine in the iconic film “The Italian Job”.

At that point the reaction is normally “oh god”, run for cover or something like that, then the realisation I do actually have a real idea that draws a statement of  “Are You Mad?”.

I remember the first time running a marathon,  I asked a very good friend to support me as my running partner in the 2014 London Marathon. Firstly Keith laughed and then said your serious aren’t you?, my response was “yep” with a rye smile. Then my planning kicked in with the motivation to achieve it.

There were many doubters, many who said; “you won’t do it”, those who wished good luck but their body language gave a very different feeling, in a way they were actually saying the opposite. There were many good friends who were really concerned for my well-being. I know they must have said to each other in private conversation he must be mad ?, he is never going to finish? The fact the world doubted me made me even more determined.

I am not the greatest runner and at the time I was 18 stone at the beginning of my training, I needed a plan, I needed to do my research and talk to those who experienced the 26.2 miles of emotion, pain, elation, feeling tired, feeling motivated and any other emotion you could think of, even hunger.

A friend who died a few years ago once said  “run to one lamppost at a time”, Simon Bozeat, that one is credited to you my friend in your memory. Then by chance I tripped over an article by Paula Radcliffe GB&I Athlete and marathon runner. In the article Radcliffe talked about her mental well-being within the marathon and why during the hard slog she would remember and consider all her thoughts. Her memories of childhood came up, she went through different emotions, when her pain started the training truly kicked in. Radcliffe had a process of counting to 100 during tough times in the race and allowing for her tunnel vision to kick in, allowing to break the negative thoughts.

I trained, lost two stone, got focused, raised money. I also went through my mindfulness walk, I  pictured in my mind each stage of race, how I would feel and how I would run the race, even down to the detail of when I would eat, drink, walk etc ……..there were also the supporters, family, friends, strangers and the thousands of supporters on the day.

Race day, we ran, we paced ourselves (slow) to ensure we finished, no matter what happened the plan was to finish. Excitement, nervous energy, pride, fear – all those emotions at once! Walking, running with strangers, you found yourself encouraging others even though you are going through your own pain.

Then the thousands of strangers shouting your name, “come on Jonesy”, simply one of the most inspiring environments I have ever experienced.

I remember struggling around mile 14, my feet were bleeding, I knew that if I stopped I would never start again, then the Tower Bridge affect. For anyone who who has previously run the marathon you will understand exactly what I mean.

Somehow you get more energy, your knees lift up, your chest lifts and you start running like Mo Farah, but not as fast.

Thousands shouting your name, encouraging you. One of the most inspiring feelings I have ever experienced in my life. That feeling gave me a few more miles I’m my legs. The mile 18-22 really hurt but with a little help from my friends I finished.

I believe the journey and process above is transferable is many aspects in life, especially around well-being.

At the beginning of the blog, I started with “Am I Mad”, well I must be because in 2016 I did it all again. Within this piece I talk about well-being, process, supporters, the environment around us. Top sporting athletes go through mental health issues and they refer to process to get through pain barriers, that they have a support network, no matter the thoughts of the individual no one questioned If they were mad, yet in every day life we question those around us because we dare to think outside the box and challenge ourselves

From my experiences in life I have come to realise that there are thousands of individuals who suffer with mental health issues and struggle with their well-being. The more I have investigated the issues, the more I have become informed and astounded by the experiences people get from others when they suffer with mental health issues, from these experiences I have had “an 💡 idea”, it’s called The Links Foundation, a group of people who want to support others. ‘Volunteers supporting volunteers”, helping those who help others. An idea by bringing people together can and will make a difference to others through new experiences and process.

It may not be 26.2 miles however one thing I know, there will be those who doubt me, those who will smile and be polite, but then there will be those who understand the reason behind the “why” I am doing this. It’s very simple, because I can, I have the passion and I am a little mad in life. I am driven mad by trying to help others, pushing the boundaries and most of all raising the awareness of mental health issues.

My aim will be to connect with other great organisations, individuals who have already started their own journey within this most difficult subject, a subject that needs recognition and allowed the air time for others to benefit from its awareness.

Running a marathon tests your resolve and challenges your well-being during the 26.2 miles in a way I have never experienced in my life. I know the process I used in my training worked, I relate to it in many conversations with individuals.

The process of “structure, process and people” , the people especially who supported the journey and allowed for my achievement of something extraordinary.

Mad means “meaningful, adventurous & determined”

Marcus Jones

Life is Now Keep Smiling


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