Virtual Edinburgh Marathon: Matt's story
Matt Clements found his mental health through his early teens to early twenties a confusing, overwhelming and turbulent affair. He experienced a daily battle of self-isolation, low self-esteem, severe anxiety, chronic fatigue and depression for over a decade. It became very evident that the all-consuming battle to overcome his poor mental health lent no time or energy to do the things he loved, like lead a healthy lifestyle or properly maintain any form of social relationship. Layered on top of this snowballing feedback loop from hell was the debilitating thought that he was doomed to a perennially despondent life of isolation and failure. Following from this, he sadly came very close to suicide on multiple occasions; a state of mind he wouldn’t wish on his worst enemy.
With the realisation that he had an exceptionally strong and supportive network around him in his friends and family; “It was just up to me to reach out – and thank god I did”. With support, he realised that what he was experiencing, even though so subjective and real to him was an extremely common experience. In conjunction with information from the Mental Health Foundation’s website, he soon realised there was so much solace in collaborative friend-to-friend discussions and physical exercise and he came to realise there was no need to suffer in silence and no need to feel the way he did. As part of his endeavour to a healthier frame of mind, he developed a love for running and really noticed the benefits to his physical and mental health.
Matt became fixated on the challenge of running his first full marathon and signed up to take part in the Edinburgh Marathon and raise money for the Mental Health Foundation. Unfortunately, the ongoing Covid pandemic resulted in the event being cancelled, so he decided he would take up the Virtual Challenge and find his own route to cover the distance and continue his fundraising efforts at what is an extremely tough time for charities.
He chose to treat himself to a scenic, but tough, coastal track along a section of the Jurassic Coast between Swanage and Lulworth Cove. Picture dramatic white cliffs, beautiful beaches, cows, castles and sleepy seaside villages.
“It was one of the best experiences of my life (until the last 6 miles which saw extremely steep, leg killing inclines). It was the perfect excuse to get out of the city and really feel a sense of achievement. During my run I couldn’t help but think the Mental Health Foundations focus on poor mental health prevention across the complex socio-biological contexts in which mental ill health manifests is extremely comprehensive. If it could help me, it could no doubt help people all across the UK and the world. And so, to raise funds for this fantastic charity was an obvious no brainer!”