Martin Gittins

“I have always done exercise. From the age of 5 I have played football 3 to 4 times a week. At school, up the local park with friends and with a local football team. At the age of 14 I became a football referee (we aren’t all that bad) to give back and earn some extra money.

When I was 21, I suffered a cartilage injury to my knee that meant I had to step away from playing. The lack of exercise meant I had my first brushes with mental illness, although I didn’t know it at the time. The reduced outlet and coping strategy meant my normal routines were gone.

To ensure I kept a routine and could exercise, I fell back on Refereeing and running gaining promotion through refereeing to semi-professional leagues. Work, refereeing and life balance pressures and stresses forced me to step away from refereeing, again another routine gone.

I am now rebuilding my routines around running.

My running routines give me a firm foundation to build on. Minimum 3km runs 3 times a week, road or trail. For me it is more important to get out and run.

Running has given me an outlet for my stresses, for my anxieties or worries. Running has given me so many coping strategies and has taught me so much that I have used through this year of unprecedented change and with unprecedented challenges to my mental health.

I am taking this year like when running a 10k or half gets tough. Run a mile I am in, focus on this mile not the remaining distance. Take it mile by mile or day by day. Nothing more nothing less.”

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