We ran our own race; together and apart. We hit PBs. Did our longest ever runs. We got red faced and tired. We laughed and we smiled. Legs and lungs were weary. But our minds were refreshed.
Sponsored by The Ordinary Runner, it owed everything to initiatives bigger than this blog will ever be.
Dad La Soul
I’ll skip the history of Dad La Soul. That’s not to undermine the vision of its founder or the efforts of its volunteers. It’s testament to how far it’s come that this small chapter is a story in itself. Besides, I’ve fawned already – to do so again would be embarrassing.
The Dad La Soul Fitness Club formed in the early days of lockdown. As ever with Dad La Soul, it hoped to bring people together – no small challenge in the shadows cast by Covid-19. But it worked. It allowed a distanced group to share common goals.
Each month a new challenge engaged different members of the club. 100k in May appealed to the runners, walkers and cyclists. Dad’s Delicious Dinners sponsored a collective virtual trip from Land’s End to John O’Groats, and back. Dry July offered a break from the booze. And, guided by Matt at Amaruq UK, our brains benefited from a month of mindfulness in August.
September and October blended a single challenge. Preparation for World Mental Health Day and a 10k run sponsored by The Ordinary Runner. Those who could, joined us in Worthing. Others ran their own run in their own time; distanced, but still involved. Hopefully this is the first of many runs, giving Dad La Soul another route to tackling loneliness and social isolation among dads.
World Mental Health Day
Given the statistics around male suicide, coupled with the mental health benefits of exercise, it’s right that Dad La Soul should bring its fitness club together with World Mental Health Day. This initiative enjoys fantastic support in Worthing, with Dad La Soul invited to close the opening day (skip straight to 1:18:00 to hear my waffles). And, fittingly, it was the Worthing Mental Health Awareness Week team that set us off for our 10k along the seafront.
Loneliness can have a significant impact on mental wellbeing. With the events of 2020, loneliness has been a major issue, even among those locked down with their families. Sudden major change, whether working from home, loss of social life or becoming estranged from friends and family, can bring on profound feelings of loneliness. And us men are particularly bad at discussing our mental health, especially when admitting to being lonely. Dad La Soul aims to tackle the issue of loneliness head on.
This run, in conjunction with World Mental Health Day, offered some respite. Recent circumstances have affected us all in different ways. It’s possible we don’t even recognise it, but it’s clear that these events help, even if only a little. One run won’t change anyone’s life. But each challenge adds up to something much greater than the sum of its parts. Which is why the efforts of Dad La Soul and World Mental Health Day is so important. And why it must continue.
Never content to settle, we’re already considering what comes next. As we head into winter, we’ll find new and different ways to challenge ourselves. And, as World Mental Health Day passes for another year, we’ll continue tackling social isolation and loneliness amongst dads.
Dads, step dads and grandads of West Sussex, look us up – monthly play dates run in Worthing, Hurspierpoint and Chichester. Our fitness group is always expanding. And our social media groups are friendly and open to new members, from anywhere in the world.
Don’t be shy. Come and get involved. And remember that you’re not alone.