Mental resilience while running the length of Britain

Ben Banaghan is running the equivalent of 2 marathons a day for 18 days in support of Mental Health UK and Join Our Boys Trust. Gearing up to take on the mammoth challenge, Ben spoke to us about how he plans to stay mentally fit, as well as physically before the event starts this September.

I’m aiming to raise awareness for Mental Health UK and Join Our Boys Trust.

My name is Ben, and it wasn’t until everything got ground to a halt in 2020, that I realised how much I missed playing sports and going to the gym. I knew that physical activity was important for my mental wellbeing, so I decided to take up road running. It wasn’t long before I discovered just how good it was for clearing my head. What started out as short 5km runs quickly grew to 20km+ runs – I would continue to run past my house to add 1 or 2km to improve on the previous run. The psychological element of running is critical, just to be able to keep moving forward, one foot in front of the other.

I’m beyond excited to take on the challenge of running the length of Britain, to test my own mental resilience and to support two great charities. Alongside Mental Health UK, I will be supporting Join Our Boys Trust. The Trust was set up in 2014 with the aim to design and build a purpose built house that will accommodate the requirements of Archie, George, and Isaac who live with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). DMD is a catastrophic muscle degeneration disease which typically begins at 2 or 3 years and mostly affects boys. The physical side affects are devastating, and sadly often those living with DMD will not live past their early twenties. The purpose built home will later home other children with DMD and the Trust will help fund vital research into finding a cure.

"For many athletes, one of the main obstacles they face is their own mind and self-confidence."

– Ben

What will be most important, is the strength of my mental health.

I have always been interested in mental health as well as physical health and I think the two intertwine. I enjoy practising emotional resilience, and I know that running 875 miles (1400 km) will require a lot of mental strength. It’s through the physical challenges of running that I feel mentally at my strongest, as its just me who must overcome the physical and emotional challenge. Running Britain will take over 9 months of intense physical training and a strict diet to get me to the fitness level required to complete the 1400km route.

"I am purposely seeking out low moments, to build my resilience and push forwards in the run."

– Ben

Since mental health is something we all have, we should all take the time to look after it, the same as we look after our physical health.

Throughout my training for the event, there will be some days where I feel great, but other days where I feel tired, stressed, and overwhelmed. Ultimately, what will get me through these challenging times and over the finish line, is using what Archie, George, and Isaac are going through as perspective, knowing how privileged I am to be able to do a physical sport. It is through the day-to-day training sessions that I am building the confidence and the mental resilience required for the event.

I’m excited to take on this challenge and continue to raise awareness for Mental Health UK and the Join Our Boys Trust. If you’re in a position to donate and support my challenge Mental Health UK, Join Our Boys, and I would be very grateful.


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