RUNNING TO HEAL THE MIND
Xavier will take part in his 7th Barcelona marathon with a mental illness. “It’s the best medicine”, says this athlete, who had to run the races accompanied a few years ago.
Xavier fights against an invisible illness. It cannot be seen at first sight, and there are also people close to him who don’t even know about it. But he has it and suffers from it. His is just one more case among the wide range of mental health disorders.
Previously, he could not leave his house unaccompanied, and when he decided to start running races he needed a friend alongside him all the time. Big crowds unsettled him. Luckily, he has now overcome that anxiety, and running has played a big part in it.
His mental illness prevents him from working, which is a pity, because at 44 years of age he feels he has more energy than ever. The positive part is that he has time to train and feel good about what he does. “Sport is the best medicine”, he says.
It is not that easy to ‘come out of the closet’ and tell the world that you suffer from a mental illness. “Society does not accept my illness as well as those that are better known and more visible in our day-to-day lives”. However, the prevalence of mental illness is on the rise.
A life full of obstacles
He has not had an easy life and he has also suffered some serious injuries. After a knee operation, the surgeon told him he would not be able to run and train at the same level and intensity. That is why his life has been an obstacle race he has won.
Despite his condition, he has already run six Barcelona marathons, and on 15th March he will line up at the start again on Avenida María Cristina. “Having this aim makes me feel alive and motivated, to be able to enjoy the day with my wife and daughter”.
“All of us runners are equal on the day of the Marató”
He aims to cross the finish line in a time of around 3 hours 45 minutes. “I will feel a winner just by being on the start line another year”. He sums up the most important thing in one sentence: “All of us runners are equal that day”. Each one with his/her bright and dark spots, joys and problems, but we’re all equal when facing the challenge of a marathon.
His enthusiasm and determination seem boundless. Last October he completed his first Ironman (3,800 metres swimming, 180 kilometres on the bike and a 42-km road race). He finished in under 11 hours! He stopped the clock at 10:47, a time that is really worthy of merit.
In conclusion, Xavier makes it clear that “I don’t feel special and I’m not an example. We all have our problems. I have gone through the mill and I have to keep going”.
His next challenge is the 42nd edition of the Zurich Marató Barcelona. When he crosses the finish line he will have taken another step towards happiness, adding another victory against his mental illness.