A MAN battling with depression has completed a mammoth 52 running races over 52 weeks.

Peter Redwood Smith from Rayleigh, has suffered with depression and anxiety since his early teenage years.

But he has since found that running is an effective coping mechanism for his condition, after first completing the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon in October last year.

And since that success, he has tackled several races across the country and has raised an incredible £8,000 for charities.

The 24-year-old, from Rayleigh, said: “I struggle with self hate and don’t give myself enough credit. There were some days when I struggled to get out of bed.

“Having these mental health issues has been a big barrier in the way which I had to overcome. When you feel so low, you don’t always feel like asking for help.”

He added: “I wanted to set something to work towards after having only ever run short distances; at most of five miles.

“Once I had run my first marathon, I felt a sense of accomplishment and that I had done something positive. I was fundraising for Great Ormond Street Hospital, it felt amazing to make a difference.

“From that point on I have continued to run marathons, it helps me keep focused and I have a goal to look forward to. I like to break my comfort zone and push myself mentally and physically.”

A year ago, he set himself a challenge of running a race once a week for 52 weeks, ranging from 5km to 100km and including half marathons, marathons, ultra-marathons and even a day-long 100km race.

At the end of last month, he completed the challenge - in fact he threw one extra race in for good measure.

Among his races were the Loch Ness Marathon, Brighton Marathon, and the London Marathon.

Overall, Peter raised just over £8,000 for charity.

He said: “The challenge has helped me feel more confident in my own skin. I still have days that are harder than others, but I am trying to be kinder to myself and take each day as it comes.

“It’s hard when you have problems with mental health. I am proud but it is hard to give myself enough credit.

“Along the way I have grown as a person and had a lot of good experiences, where I have met different people and made friends.

“The running community are supportive and are all there for each other. They all understand how hard it is and just want the best for you.”

During the London Marathon, Peter stopped to help fellow runners who were struggling. After seeing one man close to giving up, he made sure he was okay and they finished the last ten miles of the race together.

He added: “I would encourage others to start taking part in exercise and sports as a whole, it has a real good feel factor. At the end of the day, you can accomplish something, whether it’s losing weight, becoming fitter or getting stronger. When you feel better about yourself physically, this will help you mentally.”

Peter already has 20 races booked for next year, including the London Marathon in April, and will be running to raise money for Action Against Hunker UK. And In 2020, Peter will be taking on the 200km race through the jungles of Panama in Central America.