Run For: A challenge to make time for yourself

Páuric is one of the unforgettable faces of this year’s Run For challenge – you won’t have missed his smile! He’s someone worth running for, as his mum, Janine, proved when she completed her whopping 80 mile walk for Run For.

Sense have been a big part of my family’s life and I really wanted to do something to support them. To be honest though, I never had the time – or time when I was in the right headspace. There’s always so much to think about; the boys’ school, Páuric’s health…the last few years have been full on.

But in February, I found myself with a bit of time on my hands and still with some of that New Year motivation. That’s when Run For popped up on Facebook. The idea of walking or running a distance of my choosing didn’t feel too intimidating. I said to my husband, “Do you know what, I think I’ll maybe do this… Would I be able to do this?”

Getting through the stormy days

Janine and Páuric out in their Sense t-shirts.

I decided just to bite the bullet and have a go. I knew I had two hours to myself each day where I could squeeze a wee walk in. 80 miles over the course of the month felt doable!

It was quite a tough time of year. There were storms, sometimes rain would be lashing, it’d be foggy, there were even days when it was snowing! But you get up, you put your boots on and away you went. Once you were out there it was never so bad.

On those stormier walks, I’d be thinking about all the dark and bright days we’d gone through in Páuric’s first two years. Due to his early brain injuries, we were advised that he’d have many challenges, should he survive. It was a really scary time.

But survive he did – thriving’s what he’s doing now. Sense Northern Ireland helped us tremendously in getting Páuric to where he is today.

They arranged many mornings filled with colour, crafts, singing and different guests, from eye specialists to accessible yoga. We all loved it. The team were very welcoming and overflowing with advice. They also visited Páuric at home for a long time to provide sensory play, which helped him develop mobility skills the rest of us take for granted.

Life really is as unpredictable as the weather; you never know what you are going to wake up to or even if you are prepared for the day ahead. But that doesn’t mean that the harshest conditions can’t be beautiful.

Rónán and Páuric out on the coast of Newcastle, County Down

My boys were proud to walk for Sense

Do you know, I really enjoyed my challenge. I just felt like I was making a huge difference to my own wellbeing, as well as to the futures of other families who could find support from Sense.

Some of the best days were when I had wee feet with me. Páuric and Rónán could occasionally join for family walks along the coast. The boys were really proud to be walking for Sense. I think in the end we raised £1,997!

We had so many laughs, despite the weather! The support of friends, family and neighbours really brightened my day. It was great to have this time and excuse to connect. Just having people do it alongside you is such a good idea because then you’re spreading that good feeling to other people. 

My Run For advice

My advice to anyone taking part would be not to think too much about the challenge ahead. Just enjoy being out each day and having a bit of time for yourself, away from all the chaos and worries. Life isn’t easy for anybody at the minute and this really does just clear your head.

If you sign up, you’re guaranteed to have some really lovely moments. You’ll find a sense of peace and, all the while, you’ll be doing a whole lot of good for a community that really needs your help.