Guest blogger, Sean, from Sean Visuals has kindly shared his story of why he turned to running to help his mental health through lockdown.
Lockdown – where it all began
I am a photographer and filmmaker, someone who enjoys being active, outdoors, and always seeking new projects and adventures. So like many others, the threat of a national ‘lockdown’ in March 2020 worried me. Limited freedom to get out of my four walls, gyms closed, facing being furloughed and having all that time on my hands – in my eyes, it was a recipe for a mental disaster. My partner, an NHS worker, still working hard and struggling with how the new restrictions impacted her, us and our little life together.
Workout from home
I began to work out at home, to help my mind cope with the boredom, frustrations and excess overthinking time. However, after only a month of the repetitive workout routine I found myself in a rut – I was not stimulated and found myself bored once again. My simple, monotonous workout routine and my partners restlessness was causing tension.
One evening we decided we would go for a run. Something neither of us were familiar with nor had only really done together once before. We laced up our trainers and hit the road, it was the best thing we could have done for our minds and our overindulged bodies.
Perseverance is key!
We were complete beginners and full of aches and pains the next day! We persevered to get our ‘fix’ of endorphins and the next thing I knew I was injured. Injuries are not new to me. However in a time when I had very little to do and relied upon my hours outdoor exercise to keep me sane, the possibility of having that taken away from me was devastating. Soon enough that’s exactly what happened. It was at this moment that I realised how much I depend on being active, not just for my body but the realisation that it keeps my mind strong and in check.
I decided to be pro-active and look up how to avoid this problem from happening again. The right footwear seemed key. Yet there was me in my dusty old trainers wondering where it was all going wrong. That is when we came into contact with Running Free, our local running shop who were offering help over the phone and via email to those who needed guidance with their newfound hobby in lockdown. My partner and I soon had ourselves some fancy new footwear and the runs were becoming more consistent and more importantly, pain free! I Had more motivation and a brighter outlook on this strange situation, I can’t believe I hadn’t done this sooner.
A new perspective
I came out of lockdown with a new perspective. I had made new friends and had a shift in my thinking towards exercise and being outdoors. With my newfound interest, I came across a company called Maverick Race, a trail running events company which caught my eye as I became more involved in the hobby. Given my personal experience during the lockdown and also having reached out to others in the community, I realised that I wasn’t alone in my new realisation and so this is where ‘Step by Step’ was born. I learnt first-hand how powerful being active was for my mental health. This made me decide to combine my new knowledge with my passion for visual storytelling. I wanted to share it with others and hopefully inspire people to get active for a reason more than just tracking it on Strava or competing with the super fit, kale smoothie-drinking people who flood Instagram with images of intense daily workouts.
Sharing the story
I approached Maverick Race and Running Free with my idea of a documentary connecting running and mental wellbeing, involving individuals who had been affected firsthand. I was astounded by how keen everyone was to come on board to tell this story. This reinforced just how much this experience really does resonate with everyone to some degree.
Take a look at the finished film below. It was a true pleasure capturing this and working with all of those involved.
Click HERE to learn more about how being active can improve your mental wellbeing.