#iGooutdoors to Raise Awareness

Pip from GO Outdoors shares why she is going outdoors this January 

Throughout 2018, we’re celebrating the different types of adventure, and the different reasons we all go outdoors. You can submit your adventures and stories by tagging them #igooutdoors on our social channels, more info available at http://www.gooutdoors.co.uk/igoutdoors .

For our first feature, we sat down with Pip from the GO Outdoors online team, to find out more about why she is going outdoor this year.

A new year often brings with it plenty of resolutions to better ourselves in a variety of ways, but many resolutions can go unfulfilled without proper self-motivation, especially through January which can be a glum month for many.

One of the best ways to keep yourself motivated is to set yourself a challenge, something that will hold you accountable and urge you out of the front door on those days where the weather or your mindset might be making you think: ‘Yeah, not today’. Pip in the GO Outdoors online team did just that, challenging herself to run every day as part of R.E.D. January for the charity MIND.

Q. What is the challenge you have set yourself?

A. “I was looking to kickstart my year in a positive way and found out about R.E.D. (Run every day) January, a challenge which effectively lets you set your own challenge (you can run for 5 minutes, or as far as you like), as long as you get out there and run every single day through January. Not only does being outdoors and exercising help boost your own mental and physical health, it’s also that extra motivation knowing that you are raising money and awareness for other people’s mental health issues too.”


Q. What are you raising funds and/or awareness for?

A. “The 2018 R.E.D. charity partner is MIND who provide advice and support to those experience mental health problems and also people who support and care for those with mental health. While any charity challenge is about raising vital funds to help that charity continue it’s amazing work, with mental health issues awareness is often as important and it can be as simple as opening up the conversation and get people talking about mental health.”

“January is a tough month for everyone, so instead of asking for sponsorship, I’m pledging £1 for every mile I run and making myself pay a £5 forfeit for the days I miss. I have challenged myself to run at 5km each day, so I hope to have raised just under £100 by the end of the challenge. Alongside this, I am mentioning the charity on social media and flagging some of the services that they provide which I feel are really important, especially around the services for friends/family/carers and what people can do to support those they know are struggling with mental health.”


Q. What significance does the charity hold for you?

A. “The challenge for me is a couple of things really, for a long time I’ve been really aware of how much stigma is still around mental health and how naive some people may be to it, not through a lack of wanting to be supportive but how often do we approach people with statements like: “Cheer up” or “You have a great life, you should be happy” or “Get a grip”. which we may think is supportive, but can, in turn, be fairly damaging and cause the person to further retreat into themselves, which aggravates the problem rather than helping.”

“So I am keen to raise awareness for how, as a friend/carer/family member you can better support those around you with mental health issues – and this is where MIND come in, they offer so much advice and understanding. I have used it personally and it has been an invaluable resource.”

“In turn I’ve also been experiencing some really tough months lately, struggling in ways I never had before, so I wanted to try to put some positive steps back into my own life to support my own mental health.  I liked the idea of a challenge forcing me to do something every day and remind myself that no matter how dark or difficult a day is, something for yourself can really perk you up, even if just momentarily and exercise is such a good weapon for mental health, so I wanted to harness that.”


Q. From a physical point of view, challenging yourself to 5km each day is a big ask – were you an experienced runner before this challenge?

A. “I’ve done some runs but many years ago, I have been keen to get back into it for a while. My family like to get me involved in parkruns when I see them and the last one I took part in before this challenge was June, so it’s been a bit of a shock to the system! I certainly have never run on consecutive days and in general, I’m awful at committing to a daily habit so it has not been easy!”


Q. You’re just over halfway through, how far have you managed to run so far?

A. “Today (day 17) I have clocked up 52miles so far! I love it, when you see the miles starting to stack up it gives you that added motivation which I hadn’t even considered beforehand. I won’t lie, some days have been difficult but I’ve made it past halfway, so I’m on the countdown to the end of the month now.”


Q. Has it been difficult to keep yourself going so far?

A. “This lovely winter weather makes it difficult, dragging myself out of bed when I can hear the wind and rain can be a real chore, as well as trying to find safe places to run in the dark if I don’t manage it on a lunch break. However, I always feel amazing afterwards and that is what I try and focus on. I definitely feel great when I’ve done it first thing in the morning, as I can be smug knowing I don’t have to do it for the rest of the day.”

“The thing that has worked best for making sure I do it, is planning my runs for that week on the Sunday, so I decide where I am going to run and when – that way on the days when I don’t want to do it, the decision has been made and I just have to do it, so it’s one less excuse when i’m trying to talk myself out of it.”


Q. How do you keep yourself motivated when you’re out running? Do you listen to music, run with others?

A. “During the run, I crank up the tunes, I’ve actually been listening to the same playlist for every run and there are certain songs that play around 20 minutes in that really make me smile and get me through the last 10 minutes. My lovely Labrador, Walter is my running partner and probably my biggest source of motivation. On day 15 when I was getting hailed and snowed on and was crying because I was just so fed up and my legs were just SO heavy, I looked down at Walter and he was so happy, ears pinned back, tail wagging, trotting along, that I couldn’t help but smile and be so pleased. I didn’t think I’d find motivation in a pet, but he loves it, so helps me keep going.”

“At this point, my motivation is waning a little bit, so I’ve been trying to arrange some runs with some company in order to keep me going and arranging some runs in places I don’t usually go to keep it fresh. I am heading to the coast this weekend and looking forward to running along next to the sea.”


Q. When you’re not feeling tired, have you noticed any physical benefits from the challenge so far?

A. “Other than 2 runs, my legs have felt amazing, I am really surprised at how strong they are feeling. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had the usual aches and pains in some joints that you would expect from pushing yourself each day. My running fitness has definitely improved and I have found that I am getting PBs even when I’m doing what I think is a slow paced run, at this point my legs just seem to go into autopilot and keep going.”


Q. You wanted to challenge yourself to help your own mental health as well as raise awareness of others, what non-physical benefits have you found from your runs?

A. “As my general fitness is quite good anyway from skating, it’s the non-physical benefits I feel like I’m benefiting from the most. On some days where I’ve been overwhelmed and had what I call a really “anxious belly” and nothing has gone right, I’ve been for a run and it’s the best I’ve felt, for those 30 minutes I feel really free and at the end of it, the endorphins have made me feel calm and happy that I did it.”

“I have found some runs mentally tough and cried through most of it, but even that is releasing emotion, so it’s not a bad thing. The tiredness from running has helped me sleep better, which in December I certainly wasn’t getting enough of and a lack of sleep can really escalate problems.”

“On the days I run on my lunch break, it’s gotten me away from the desk and given me so much more energy and a clearer head in the afternoon. Too often I eat my lunch at my desk and don’t go outside, getting some daylight and escaping for 30 minutes has been brilliant. I just had to get over the awkwardness of putting on my running kit at work and the potential to pass my colleagues when I was out running.”


What is YOUR outdoor story?

Tell us why you go outdoors, what you have planned for 2018, or simply tag your adventure photos #igooutdoors on Instagram and Twitter, or simply post them on our Facebook wall.

For more details, please visit: http://www.gooutdoors.co.uk/igooutdoors