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CALM running

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Why Running With Your Mates Could Change Your Life

Fitness

In Partnership with CALM

CALM suicide prevention

The Loneliness of The Long Distance Runner? No thanks. Running is most often a solitary act, but these days, don't we need to connect more?

“We are movement-based animals and we are trapped in these cages, stuck behind desks, living sedentary lifestyles – movement can be a beautiful tool to focus on to feel better about yourself.” So says Chevy Rough, CALM (the male suicide prevention charity) ambassador, running coach and a bit of legend. He is one of the men was involved in CALM’s #MatesWhoRun campaign this last April, which encouraged men to run with their friends to promote well-being, and is now holding #RunforCALM training sessions.

Too often exercise is a solitary sport where you’re grinding away on a treadmill with your headphones on, or hitting the outdoors for long solo runs. But how about taking a step back seeing exercise in a different way, where the experience of doing it with others is the end goal – not the PB, not the medals, not the oiled-up guns in the Instagram snap.

“We live in a disconnected world and it can be alienating”

“We’re fed a narrative about how to look and feel. Marketing tells me I should have biceps and a 6 pack and look like David Beckham, that I should run fast, lift massive weights – even yoga dudes on Instagram are always standing on their heads!” says Chevy, “We know movement is great but what should success in our movement look like? It’s not about going hard and fast and lifting heavy – we have enough stress, we don’t need any more.” In #MatesWhoRun, men are encouraged to engage in peer to peer support by asking mates to hit the road with them, with the aim of improving mental health through exercise and socialising.”We are looking to raise awareness about challenges men face around mental health, but what we really want, is to actually do something about it – as well as conversation what else can we do to support the dudes? I’m the movement guy, encouraging friends to run together. It’s about connection – we live in a disconnected world and it can be alienating. It’s not about lonely marathon runners it’s about people coming together.”

For Chevy, his motivation comes from a very personal space. As a former City worker in the thick of the rat race, he fell into heavy drink and drug problems as a result of the high-powered hedonistic environment in which he worked.
“I stumbled into the City at 17, and was suddenly surrounded by Alpha males, with a go hard or go home mentality,” he says, “I have a tattoo which says ‘I am not who I am’ – for me, that’s a reminder of the personality I adopted at work. I wore this mask of what I thought other people wanted, and what I thought a dude should be – the joker, all the banter, the drugs, and no conversation about anything. But I wasn’t aware that there was any other way.” “To this day when people ask me what my football team is I say, “Oh yeah I support Arsenal.” But I don’t like football. I’d just parrot the football chat on Thursday because if I said I didn’t like football I’d be excommunicated. If I said I didn’t drink, I’d be excommunicated.”

For him, such male behaviours which we all fall into the trap of, instead of being about strength are actually about insecurity. “When you’re in that working environment where it’s the only option, and if you want promotions, you try to fit in and be part of the team,” He says, “When you have abandonment issues like I do, then you want to be liked and fit in. You want to belong.” Eventually, Chevy stumbled across a group of runners called the Run Dem Crew – “a community of life’s misfits” – and with them as his support group, began to find a way out of the darkness.

Now with the MatesWhoRun campaign he’s encouraging other men to do the same. He says, “I do think things are changing for men, there’s been a huge upturn in conversations about mental health and looking after ourselves more. Guys are realising it’s not OK to fit into a standard box, we have emotions, we have feelings – we find it hard to talk but we’re becoming self-aware and ware of the that shocking statistic in the UK: that if you’re under 45 and a man, the most likely thing to kill me, is me. We’re not out the woods yet.” With men like Chevy involved though, we’re heading in the right direction. And we actually have company too.

Find out more about CALM’S MatesWhoRun campaign.

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