Published: 6th October 2022. Written by: Olivia Matsell.
Completing seven marathons in seven days was the challenge Jamie Monk, Vitality’s Head of Health Engagement, set himself last month. Why, is a pretty reasonable question. The answer? To inspire others to challenge themselves. So, what did his ‘7 in 7’ experience teach him? Vitality Writer Olivia Matsell finds out.
Since completing his ‘7 in 7’ challenge last week – running seven marathons in seven days – Jamie Monk (right), Vitality’s Head of Health Engagement, is on a mission to redefine people’s perception of what is possible.
Forget the distance Jamie managed to complete in seven days, almost 183 miles if you want to know, his experience taught him that the power of people and emotional support, when completing a physical challenge, makes all the difference.
“People’s challenges are different based on their experiences, so for someone to run a 5k for the first time is just as much of a challenge and achievement as doing a first marathon or anything more than that,” he tells Vitality.
“I wanted to do this, not only to show how physically and mentally resilient we are, but also that you can do things quite well even though there are big challenges; as long as you’ve got the right people around you, then you’ve got a better chance of completing it.”
Documenting parts of the seven marathons on Vitality’s Instagram (@Vitality_UK) and his personal account, he was overwhelmed at the support and effect that was received from his friends, colleagues, fellow Vitality members and the general public.
“Having people come up to me that I had never really spoken to before, was so nice.
“The smallest comments, just someone saying it’s been so good to see what I’m doing has been amazing.”
Explore the benefits of social exercise:
- Three’s a crowd? Why getting active with a friend can be better for you
- The 5 benefits of community running
People play their part
“The social element does take your mind off things. It does give you a focus and people give you their energy and encouragement, and that counts for a lot, especially when you don’t want to take another step.”
And Jamie’s feelings are backed by the science.
Research has shown that working alongside and/or with others increases our levels of motivation and as a result, how long and hard we exercise for.
It also has been reported that doing exercise with others improves mental wellbeing, compared with doing exercise alone.
‘Big ups, not put downs’
Needless to say, the power of people in this week-long challenge was ever-present in Jamie’s experience.
And now, he wants more people to experience the same support he felt during this challenge.
“If we can do that through physical activity amazing, if we do it through something else that’s great too,” he explains.
“Reach out to people, support each other, give ‘big-ups’ to other people instead of putting them down.
“Tell them they can do anything; and tell them they’ll smash it.”
Where will your challenge take you?
And for those looking to start doing some physical activity, or want to set themselves a challenge, remember “everyone’s achievement is equal as long as it’s relative”, says Jamie.
Here are four ways to find a challenge that’s right for you:
1. Find something you care about
“I really think that’s the most important thing,” explains Jamie.
“The reason why I like running is not because of the physical, necessarily, but for what it stands for.
“For every single run there’s going to be highs and lows, there’s so many different things that you have to manage and that’s what it represents.”
2. Don’t go it alone
“Another key point that I always think is important is if it’s hard it doesn’t mean it’s good. You can enjoy something and it’s still good for you.”
“Community plays a role 100%. I’ve met people this week that I’ve never met before that I have no -doubt I’ll stay in contact with, and it can also reconnect you with people as well.”
3. Don’t set yourself an unrealistic target?
“Don’t go way ahead, start where you are, do things consistently, from that you get progression and that’s where you get momentum and that’s where you start enjoying what you’re doing.”
4. Why are you doing this?
Ask yourself why do you want to do it? Is it your health, your social, or how you look and feel?
“Think about why you want to do it and make sure that’s personal to you, and if you do it because you think it’s good for you because other people do it, I don’t think you’ll get that consistency.”
Vitality partner parkrun is a great way to try out running for the first time; it’s free and there are hundreds of locations to choose from.
At Vitality, we aim to inspire and encourage members, enhance and protect your lives through the Vitality Programme, so you can implement small positive habits that make a big difference to your life.