A few weeks ago, we interviewed Andrew Thomas, who was preparing for a 200-mile marathon from London to Wales to raise funds for Maggie's Cancer. Andrew and our Co-Founder Shameek are both dads who met at a children's birthday party.
Upon learning about Andrew's life over the past few years from becoming a parent and overcoming mental health challenges to battling cancer, we just had to support him in some way when he told us about his ultra-marathon to raise money for a cancer charity that had provided him with support on his own personal journey.
We didn’t have long as Andrew was preparing to leave soon but we tried our best to get stuck into topics like fatherhood, mental health and the mindset to take on a ultra-challenge of this nature. We hope that Andrew's story inspires and motivates you in the way it has done for us.
What’s inspired you to walk and run all the way to Wales?
It all started as an inside joke with my friends back in Wales. Whenever we drank too much I ended up walking home, and my mates would tease me by saying "Oh no, Andrew is walking home." However, my walk/run to Wales is for a much more significant reason - to raise funds for Maggie's Centre for Cancer Support and to challenge myself both mentally and physically. I already did it once, and along the way I met many wonderful people. I remember this lovely old lady who cooked me a shepherd's pie and had a chat with me.
Running, together with other practices such as transcendental meditation, has been an essential part of my life, particularly as a way to cope with my mental health issues and skin cancer. It's a way to test my body and feel good. Doing this journey to Wales is significant because it's a way to combine my love for running with a meaningful cause.
How have you managed to balance training with work and personal life?
I didn't focus on physical training as much as mental training, as I've learned from past experiences that injuries usually come from overtraining. Instead, I try to integrate running into my daily routine, so it doesn't feel like an extra task. For me, work should be integrated into life, not the other way around. When I go for a run, it's not just for training purposes, but as a way to take care of myself.
What advice would you give to parents who want to do a big challenge? (as if parenthood isn’t challenging enough!)
My advice would be to integrate training into everyday life, rather than seeing it as an extra task. Taking care of yourself is essential, and children should understand and respect that. When I go for a run, I let my daughter know that I'm going to get my medicine, which helps her understand that it's something I need for my well-being. You are there to inspire them, my daughter wants to come with me anywhere, she wants to follow me when I run.
Could you suggest any other rituals that help you maintain your energy levels and stay focused?
Although it may sound strange, the concept of "being present" is a ritual that helps me to stay energised and focused. Although I used to practise meditation regularly, simply taking a few minutes to be aware of my thoughts and surroundings can be incredibly beneficial. Additionally, reading has become an important ritual for me. In the past, I used to smoke and drink excessively, and I would reward myself with a cigarette after completing tasks. Now, I find pleasure in reading a few pages after finishing work. These two practices have become essential to my daily routine.
You mentioned the importance of connecting with oneself and having a positive relationship with nature. Can you share an early memory of feeling a strong connection with nature?
Growing up in Wales, our home had no fences. We would wake up in the morning and simply head outside. When my mother would call us in for dinner, she would bang a saucepan with a wooden spoon, and we would quickly eat so we could return to our outdoor adventures. We spent most of our time exploring and playing outside, feeling completely free and connected to the natural world around us. This is one of my earliest and fondest memories of experiencing a deep connection with nature.
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