Donal is running the London Marathon to raise funds for children’s mental health | Saint John of God Foundation
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Donal is running the London Marathon to raise funds for children’s mental health

Donal is running the London Marathon to raise funds for children’s mental health

The Secret Agent Society (S.A.S) is an espionage themed, multimedia intervention program which uses an evidence based curriculum to improve children’s mental health and well- being. It teaches children to recognise and manage their own feelings, cope with change, detect other peoples’ emotions, talk and play with others and deal with bullying.

Our Senior Speech & Language Therapists in Lucena Clinic are the first to fund raise to deliver a roll out of SAS in Ireland . Our aim is to raise enough funds to enable as many children between 8-12 years old, with a range of complex mental health difficulties, who attend Lucena Clinic to avail of the SAS Programme. Every child who has taken part in the programme has been shown to significantly improve their emotional and social resilience.

Our volunteer Donal Ennis is running the next Virgin Media London Marathon on the 23rd April to raise funds to help many other children to join S.A.S. programme. Click here to donate

Curious to know a bit more about Donal? Here is his profile!

Name:  Donal

Age: 24

Profession: Night Manager in a Hotel London

Why have you decided to run for Saint John of God?

I’ve decided to run for Saint John of God mainly for the fact that it’s a charity that’s close to home and between family and close friends I’ve heard of the great work that is carried out by the team. When I was accepted for the Virgin London Marathon it was more of a shock (it was my first time applying and seeing as roughly one on eight people get picked I didn’t think I had a hope), but I had always told myself if I get in I’ll run it for charity.

Mental health has become wildly spoken about lately and many people suffer from it in so many different ways. Whilst I was in college I remember hearing many horrible stories of the results of this on the news. Also, having both close friends and family going through some tough times I’ve seen how poor mental health can affect both the individual and their families and friends.

When you get accepted you get a big magazine with a lot of the big charities advertising to have people run for them. They try to promote themselves with the ideas of free massages for all runners at the finish line, pre and post receptions, designated training days and so on. I’m sure they all represented great charities but for me, if I’m going to run for charity, I want it to be for the benefit of others and not just myself.

I knew that by picking a charity close to home, and knowing that I’m the sole runner representing them that I would have a lot of responsibility. This is what drives me to do the training each day, the conscious that I’m not just running for myself as I have done in half marathons in the past, but that I’m running on behalf of a whole organisation and aiming to raise as much as possible for St John of Gods and most importantly the S.A.S

Running is a tough sport, which I’ve learnt from the three half marathons I’ve completed but going into a full marathon I knew that the challenge would be huge mentally. What better a way to overcome my mental strains of tackling a full marathon than helping others with their own mental battles, be it proactive or reactive defence.

Any tricks you want to share with us to become good runners?

I’m far from an expert I can tell you that much. Most of my friends still look at me with fear in their eyes when I tell them I’m going ahead with the marathon still. But I do enjoy running and I think that really is the most important part of it. Once the enjoyment goes out of it, it just becomes a chore.

I try to look after my core strength, without a strong core you’ll have an injury before you know it and your running will never get off the ground. After my first half marathon I had terrible knee pain which a physio told me was due to running on a weak core. I don’t want to feel that pain again so core is a big focus of my training.

I also try to be consistent. I’ve taken long breaks before between trainings but I only felt the worse for it. I recommend to not go a long time without any exercise, whether it is going for a short run or even a small work-out and the gym, your body will thank you in the long run. You’ll feel ten times worse if you take a long time out of it, then when you finally do get back to it and it will only make you more terrified each and every run because you think they’ll get worse when really consistency will make each run mush more feasible.

How you are getting ready for Virgin marathon?

In my training from last November to now I focused on getting some core strength to prevent injury whilst also just getting used to short distances. As the weather got colder in January I took a bit of time off (this is where I learnt that type about consistency the hard way).

The run from where I work to home is 10KM so I’ve being doing that roughly three times a week whilst visiting the gym on the days between to look after muscle building and also simple stretching.

Between now and April 23rd I’ll be focusing on getting my distance up each week, mixing two short runs with one long run. I have a good diet so I’ll be looking to keep that up whilst cutting back on alcohol as much as possible, just leaving about three days between now and race day where I’ll treat myself due to friend’s birthday. But I aim to do extra-long runs either side of these events to make up for it.

As much as it terrifies me, I’m looking forward to the 23rd of April and running on behalf of St John of Gods.

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