My name’s Josh. 25 years old, full-time consultant with a passion for sport and fitness. This passion started while playing rugby at school, university and now while living in London, but I’ve also dabbled with many other fitness pursuits including Crossfit, rowing and martial arts.
I’d quite comfortably say I’m just your average Joe whose life is all about balance – I have a demanding job, enjoy going to the gym when I can and playing sport whilst also enjoying the occasional doughnut or night out with friends at the weekends. The only difference? I’m always looking for a new challenge which will push me and test me mentally and physically. For this reason, I often get a called a ‘nutter’ by most of my friends – especially when I try and rope them in on any ideas I come up with.
What is it?
Across 2018, I will be taking on one tough event every month. These challenges will see me cover nearly 1000km and over 145 hours of exercise (not including the weekly training I’ll be doing!). I want to prove that an averagely fit person can set themselves goals far bigger than they thought possible and embrace challenges that often make us nervous and scared – pushing my body and mind to places where it will want to quit and stop moving.
This is all in aid of raising money and awareness for CALM, a charity aimed at tackling male suicide in the UK – the biggest killer of men under the aged of 45. I hope to raise over £5000 and spread the word about the amazing work CALM are doing to tackle this growing challenge.
What are the events?
The first event took place in January when I took on 1000 burpees whilst wearing a 10kg weighted vest. This took just under 3.5 hours and was a bruising physical and mental test, not only because nobody likes burpees, but because of the monotony and repetitiveness of doing one movement over and over.
After receiving some tragic news last month, the decision was taken to postpone February’s event and instead incorporate this into another month. That means, the next 11 events are:
- March – 100km partner ski erg
- April – Pembrokeshire Coastal Path Half-Marathon (while wearing a 10kg weighted vest)
- May – “Iron Duathlon” weightlifting challenge (Nearly 60,000kg lifted and over 600 reps)
- June – Cotswolds Way 100km Challenge
- July – Ultra Duathlon (20km run, 77km bike, 10km run – wearing a 10kg vest on the run)
- August – Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge (while wearing a 10kg weighted vest)
- September (double event month)
- Fan Dance SAS test (while wearing a 10kg weighted vest)
- Double Murph (Crossfit workout) – 2-mile run, 200 pull-ups, 400 push-ups, 600 squats, 2-mile run (all while wearing a 10kg vest)
- October – 3 marathons in 3 days (while wearing a 10kg weighted vest)
- November – 100km airdyne
- December – 24-hour max distance partner row
Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? I find that most people would be surprised by what they can do when they have the right motivation, though. CALM and the work they do is a cause close to my heart after a good friend took his own life in 2013. It took me a long time to come to terms with it and one of the ways I dealt with what happened was looking for ways to support other men facing the same battles and to help them to realise there are other solutions. It was during this process that I heard about CALM.
I have fundraised twice before for CALM, completing the Stockholm Marathon and ‘5 Duathlons in 5 Days’. This time around I wanted to set myself an even tougher test, a year-long goal, which would require commitment, perseverance, and a willingness to push my body and mental fortitude to the very edge.
For me, the mental test sits at the very crux of why I’m taking on this challenge year.
This is all in aid of raising money and awareness for CALM
Although as a society we’ve become better at talking about previously taboo subjects like suicide and mental health, we still have a long way to go. There is still reluctance for people to talk about the internal battles they face on a daily basis, often keeping everything bottled up instead.
One of the causes behind this is the stigma associated with talking about our emotions, especially amongst men. Phrases like ‘man up’ are still thrown around, leading many men to believe that taking about mental battles, life challenges or emotions is somehow not manly.
I saw what this stigma can lead to in 2013 as the scale of the challenges faced by my friend only came to light after it was too late to help him. He felt like he couldn’t open up to anyone and the weight of the demons he tackled internally was overwhelming. This is often the cause of why people see suicide as the only way out. As part of this challenge I have also decided to add a 10kg weighted vest to some of the events I complete, as a symbol of this emotional burden.
CALM takes an active and positive approach to changing this unacceptable picture:
They operate on the frontline, delivering services for men who are in crisis or distress, as well as supporting the people around them and those who’ve been bereaved by suicide. This includes a free helpline 0800 585858 and webchat (5pm–12am daily), which are confidential, anonymous and staffed by trained professionals
At the same time, they look to the future and our ultimate goal of long-term culture change, running campaigns that drive awareness and change attitudes so that, over time, fewer men will need our services or feel suicide is their only option. This has included working with high-profile ambassadors and partners, such as Professor Green, Lynx, TOPMAN and JC Decaux.
CALM’s impact has been profound, with YouGov stating that in the first ten years of being founded, CALM has helped treble awareness of male suicide in the UK. It also currently receives in excess of 6,000 calls to the helpline/webchat and 40,000 unique website visitors each month.
How can you help?
There are lots of ways you can help, and I’d welcome any support in any shape or size! Sponsorship, sharing the challenge, helping raise awareness of CALM and their amazing work, or even joining in on one of the events. If you want to get involved in any way, please visit 12/12 Challenge and there you can find my sponsorship page or contact details.
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