My first monthly race takes place on Sunday. The aptly named ‘First Chance 10k‘ will be a great opportunity for me to test my fitness ahead of the first half-marathon of the year in 5 weeks time, on February 12th. Of course, with the race being so early in the year, I had to do some training in December, although this won’t count towards the 1000 mile total. I’ve had three moderate (and ‘official’) training runs so far this year, totalling 18.9 miles. I’ll tip this over the 20 mile mark tomorrow morning with a short run, just to stretch my legs out ahead of Sunday’s race. The course is extremely flat and apparently ‘good times’ are possible. I’m not sure quite what a good time, but I guess it is all relative. Mo Farrah can run a road-based 10k in 27:44 minutes. So if I can run it in less than double that I will be happy. I once heard a story that Michael Jordan adopted his famous number 23 Jersey after wishing he could be at least half as good as his older brother, who wore the number 45. Sometimes modest expectations pay off.
Over a month has passed since the passing of Gary Speed, and whilst his name may not be as present in the media as it was in the weeks immediately after his death, it is important that we do not forget what happened. For the millions of people affected every year by mental health issues, the problems rarely disappear so quickly.
Poor mental health can be caused by, and dealt with, by many different reasons and in many different ways. Mind was set up to to promote better mental health and to reduce the stigma associated with people’s problems. At times when people feel they have nowhere to turn and noone to speak to, Samaritans are just a phone call (08457 90 90 90), email (email@example.com) or visit away.
If any good can come from Speed’s tragic death, and we must try to find some, it is that it has raised awareness of depression and other mental health issues faced by professional sportsmen and women. The periodic or sometimes daily battles faced by Marcus Trescothick, Paul Merson, John Kirwan, Tony Adams, Kelly Holmes, Frank Bruno, Neil Lennon, Stan Collymore and a handful of others were already known about, to an extent at least, but the real value comes from the the increasing confidence with which people now feel able to talk about their problems. Andrew Flintoff is a prime example of a sportsman who has ‘come out’ in the wake of Speed’s suicide. Of course, it is not just people in the media spotlight that suffer from mental health issues, but the fact that someone, portrayed by the newspapers as a carefree joker, has battled with depression behind closed doors is an important lesson for all of us.
It is important that we do all we can to encourage better mental health, for ourselves, our friends, our families and even perfect strangers. It is important that we do all we can to learn from the lessons we have been taught Justin Fashanu, Robert Enke and, now, Gary Speed.