Our mental wellbeing is precious. It can influence so many parts of our lives and even how we see the world itself. Today’s blog is from runner and personal trainer Kevin Betts. He’s developed a great initiative that uses running to help raise important funds for Mind, a key mental health charity. This summer we’re going to be encouraging people to join us for Run Around the World and hopefully create a little friendly competition between the teams! You’re all welcome to join. Here’s Kev to tell us why mental health is important to him and how you can get involved in a fun way to help an important cause. Follow him on Twitter via @52marathonman and checkout his website.

There are a hundred and one different reasons that people might run. As a personal trainer, and someone who specialises in working with first-time marathon runners, the things that motivate my clients to run 26.2 miles are SO interesting. I’m yet to meet two people with the same story; the same reasons. 

I started running in 2004. I thought it was because I was recovering from an injury that meant I had to retire from rugby. Well that’s what I convinced myself, anyway. Looking back, the truth is that I started running as a way to cope with my dad taking his own life the year before. At the time, I was a blokey bloke – the sort who didn’t need help or support – so I would never have admitted that running gave me the freedom to think or not think, to cry or not cry and to spend time on my own rationalising what happened.

It’s safe to say my dad’s suicide shaped me. It’s a tough thing to say, but I think it also made me a better person – someone more aware of my surroundings and ignited a fire inside me to support others. As time went on I ran more and more and it became my thing and as my blogs got read, I realised I had a platform to speak about mental health, exercise and the importance of caring. 

Fast forward another six or seven years and as I said, I’m now a personal trainer. I work very closely with the amazing mental health charity Mind and support all of their runners who take on the Brighton or London Marathons each year. I also worked closely with my friend Clare to set up some virtual runs that are quirky, fun, supportive, encouraging and available to everyone. In December we had the Run Up to Christmas, where 1500 people took part. 

This July it’s the turn of the Run Around the World. There are four teams (North, South, East and West) that people can choose from, and the ‘race’ is to see which team can travel furthest round the equator in a single month. Regardless of running experience, speed or miles covered, every person in each team will make a contribution of miles and add to the tally. It’s a virtual race, so people can do their runs whenever and wherever they like. We have an app that will link to your running watch or Strava accounts, and you can even upload treadmill runs. Everyone who takes part gets a BRILLIANT medal and the opportunity to win a load of prizes. Mind are our charity of choice, and always will be, and they will receive 50% of all money raised. If you’d like to take part or find out more, check out our website or head over to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. During Mental Health Awareness Week, anyone who uses the code MHWEEK will also receive 10% off entry.

See our dedicated section for more on running and mental health.