By focusing on just putting one foot in front of the other and solely being alive to the act of running, Will Evans has found a way to help him channel the stresses of farming life.
The Welsh beef farmer and host of the Rock and Roll Farming podcast told the Future Farmers of Yorkshire’s #Fit2Farm event last week that exercising regularly had become an invaluable outlet, going as far as to admit that taking up running had helped him to become a better husband, father and farmer.
“I didn’t used to deal with stress very well,” Mr Evans told an assembled audience of more than 100 farming and industry professional at Pavilions of Harrogate.
“It has helped me massively to leave farm stress behind and I can only best describe it as being like a switch. I’ve found that the simple act of going for a run at the end of the day, whether it be 10 miles or just half a mile, it clears it all away.”
The Future Farmers’ month-long, social media-led #Fit2Farm campaign has been all about opening up the conversation around the importance of physical and mental health to farm safety. The initiative is part of a progressive attempt to help address the annual toll of on-farm injuries and deaths.
Mr Evans revealed how getting physically fitter to farm was a challenge. In his early 30s, his fitness was sorely lacking. He felt exhausted constantly, but after starting to run, he eventually reaped the rewards.
Reflecting on his first running jaunt, he said: “I did less than a quarter of a mile, then I threw up, then I lay down on the verge at the side of the lane for quarter of an hour, and then I walked home, but I kept at it and slowly, I began to enjoy it.”
He eventually signed up to an organized five-mile race and went on to run the Manchester Marathon, as well as this year’s London Marathon in aid of Farm Africa alongside Stuart Roberts, vice president of the National Farmers’ Union, who also appeared as a guest speaker at the #Fit2Farm event.
“I can’t tell you how much that (first race), and the subsequent other events I’ve done, have helped me with confidence and belief in my own ability. It has helped me undoubtedly be a better husband, father and farmer,” Mr Evans said.
“I’m not suggesting this (running) is a magic stress cure, there isn’t one and it clearly doesn’t work for everybody, but it works for me.”
Praising the initiative shown by Future Farmers to engage the farming community in the #Fit2Farm campaign, he added: “It really isn’t overstating it that you could be saving someone’s life, so very well done.”
Will Evans is a married father-of-four. He farms near Wrexham in Wales where he runs a herd of 330 beef cattle and grows cereals and maize across 340 acres.