By Noel Paine
“Self-image and self-confidence, mental health can be as important on the start line as your training.”
In the last issue of iRun I talked about my transition to being a running dad with the birth of my daughter a couple of years ago. The pressures, the expectations and my struggle resulted in the end of my marriage and a battle with depression. I am a dad who runs and struggles to come to terms with where I am in life, my running and trying to be a good father.
The journey out of the dark well of depression that settled upon me was a tough one and still continues. I had dropped to rock bottom. I struggled at a job that held no joy or meaning for me, kept busy to avoid thinking about a future that seemed bleak and lonely and often dreaded or was exhausted from my daddy duties.
Running became a necessity as it always has been in a way for me, to clear my head and find some happiness in life. I have been running for so long it often seems hard to think when I have not run. Lacing up and getting out the door did not solve my problems but it helped me keep going and was something I could look forward to. I liked the stress and frustration that trickled out with my sweat.
I eventually however came to a point where I needed help. I hit the wall mentally just as many do in the marathon. I couldn’t go on and needed someone to help me. This is when I decided I needed to talk to someone about my mental health and attack things like I was planning to run a marathon. My goal was and is happiness, mental health, dealing with being a dad and getting back on track.
On my journey back to a more stable running dad, one of the big lessons I learned was something simple but at the same time extremely hard. I needed to love myself. I needed to be able to look at myself, think, say and even write it out. An acceptance, of who I am, my strengths, faults and where I am in life.
Loving yourself can be tough when dealing with issues like fatherhood for me, but if can also be about how you look, how tall you are, what you think others think of you. Running and life require a balance of mental and physical wellness to be at your best.
Train, love yourself and go run hard.
Noel Paine is a communications professional, running coach, and father based in Ottawa. Paine is a regular iRun contributor and you can also follow his journey on Twitter @NoelPaine.