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A movement of like-minded people

Solent Mind’s CEO Kevin Gardner reflects on his RED January experience and his plans for 2019.

I had no real hesitation when asked if I was signing up for Red January 2019 – it was an enthusiastic ‘Yes!’ from me.

I was part of the Solent Mind team for the inaugural Red January earlier this year and enjoyed it immensely. For those of you who don’t know, the idea is that you do something active every day for 31 days to gain the benefits of physical exercise, promote mental health awareness and raise money for Solent Mind’s local mental health services.

As with many other REDers, I interpreted the RED (i.e. Run Every Day) aspect literally, making myself don my running kit and shoes on each of the 31 days and get out there, rain or shine. This year, it is being made a little more flexible, so that being active every day is sufficient. I will probably still do a run for around 45 minutes at the weekend, with two or three 15 – 20 minute runs during the week, and rest my muscles on the days in between with some yoga.

What did I find about it that was challenging? I have a busy full-time job, and there were undoubtedly evenings when I arrived home late and hungry, in the dark of midwinter, on occasions cold and rainy, when a warm meal and an evening with my feet up watching Sky Sports felt instinctively the more attractive option. However, my determination to complete the challenge meant that I always took to the local streets, even if only for a few blocks. I soon found that getting outdoors for a run in the fresh air is a great way to wind down from the pressures of the working day.

What did I enjoy about it most? That would have to be the camaraderie amongst the REDers. Many of us were posting daily updates on social media, so that we could follow each other’s progress and send messages of encouragement in response. There was a real sense of being part of a movement of like-minded people who shared the same ethos and values, who ultimately want to make the world a better place for people experiencing mental health issues.

This year, I’d like to get all our 2019 REDers together for a collective run, all proudly jogging together along the tree-lined paths of our local park, wearing our Red January T-shirts. I hope I’ll see some of you there!

Kevin Gardner

If you’re feeling inspired to take part in RED January 2019, take a look at our FAQs or contact our friendly team by emailing redjanuary@solentmind.org.uk.

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