Muddy Mountain Miles: Trail Running Therapy

Written By Dominique Roberts

When Dominique isn’t out running the muddiest and mountainous trails around the world, she can be found writing about her experiences and raising awareness for the mental health benefits of trail running.

30 November 2020


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Reading Time: 4 minutes
In 2020 a virus came. We set out to find a destination, a cure.

Yet, somewhere along the way what we discovered was a journey. Through this journey, a new virus emerged. It manifested in our homes, spread through technology and was enabled by selflessness.

This was the virus of kindness.

We helped our friends, our neighbours, our NHS. We smiled at the stranger in the park because we felt at one with them. We understood what they were going through. Together we were united in a fight against an invisible enemy.

They say nothing ever goes away until it taught us what we need to know. Maybe kindness was the lesson that needed to emerge from the pain, suffering and separation that 2020 has bought upon us. Mission 2021 is the call to action from myself to continue this movement of kindness. To not let all this learning, pain and suffering to go to waste. To once again harness the power of community to drive change.

Muddy Mountain Miles is a community of individuals spreading awareness, driving action and creating a culture of acceptance around mental health struggles. Mission 2021 will provide a voice of authenticity to this goal, normalising the ups and downs life throws our way through the medium of trail running, as it was trail running that enabled my own personal recovery from a long-lasting battle with mental health.

Meditation is the art of being still. However, the misconception is that you must still the body to also still the mind. Having suffered for many years with anxiety and panic attacks, my body produced too much adrenaline making it near impossible to achieve a state of calm even at rest. I began to run to use up the overwhelming power I felt. It was at this point I quickly discovered: the faster that I ran the calmer my breathing, the further I went the stiller my mind became, and the higher I climbed the greater the sense of accomplishment I felt in myself.

Experiencing the outdoors helps relieve and manage the symptoms of mental health issues such as anxiety through a process known as grounding. Grounding reminds you that these feelings are temporary. Being immersed in nature overwhelms your mind with signals that inspire happiness; scents, sights, and sounds of something much greater than yourself. This is the awareness I hope to spread with Mission 2021.

The idea started off with a personal aim to dedicate next year to run some of the hardest ultramarathons available, in order to drive both action and awareness. I set out on my search with the intention of finding a selection of the toughest events available across the UK, but my own personal ambition drove this further when I found Ultra X.

Woman Running In Mountains
“Reaching the highest degree, the furthest point from the centre of your comfort zone.” Just about where you need to be to drive an awareness movement for mental health! Now partnered with Ultra X, Mission 2021 will see me cover 500km and over 21,000m of elevation gain during three multi-stage ultramarathons.

The first of these events will be the Ultra X 125 Azores in April. Followed by Ultra X 125 England across my home of the Peak District in September. And in true Grand Finale style, I will cover 250km over 5 days in November through the Copper Canyons of Ultra X Mexico. The elevation gain experienced over these three events is equivalent to climbing to the summit of Mount Everest twice – and some.

These are the hardest events I will have ever tackled in my life as I am new to multi-stage ultramarathons. This is why I am privileged to work with a company who makes such adventures accessible to all. You haven’t got to be the best, just possess an unwavering desire to achieve more than you ever thought you could.

I am very humbled to have this opportunity to raise awareness on a global platform. Equally, to have partners such as Ultra X and Skins Compression by my side to help me reach this goal.

My journey to and through these events will be blogged in detail to share with you those ups and downs. To normalise the struggles we go through to achieve our goals.

If you want to join the Muddy Family please follow @muddy.mountain.miles on Instagram and visit the website for more information on Mission 2021.

Female Runner on Mountain Trail


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