It's world mental health day and the mental health foundation says we need to unlock stress and take a bit of a break from the hustle of life.

One way to do that, the foundation says, is to get outside and spend some time in nature to boost your mood and to improve your sense of wellbeing. And there's another way too - to spend a couple of days away from the grind and out of your comfort zone.

I've just come back from a weekend away in Tauranga with a group of mums. We were there to run the marathon. That's how we met - through running. And we joke sometimes that there are probably easier ways to have a break from the kids than running 42km, but it's what we do, and it's what we love it.

We're usually pretty quiet on the Friday night before the marathon. We head out for a carb-heavy dinner and we mumble and grumble about wanting a glass of wine, but we know we can't because that will just make it harder for us the next day. So water it is. Water, and then we turn in for an early night.


The next morning we're up early eating whatever works best for us. Toast, bananas, oats.

And then we make our way to the start line.

We're always a bit nervous when we get there. Sometimes we stretch - but to be honest, more often then not we don't. And we almost always ask ourselves why we're doing this, but that's just part of the pre-race nerves. And then we take our place at the start line, wait for the starter's gun, and off we go on the 42km journey, and we'll do whatever it takes to get there.

Sometimes we'll run together and sometimes we'll pair off. If we're trying to run a good time then we might head off on our own. It changes with every race.

I won't use their names because they'll never forgive me, but we all have our challenges.

Sometimes it's physical. Two of us had niggly injuries and we were strapped up to run.

One mum has some stomach complications so she often has to run a marathon on an empty stomach which is an incredibly hard ask.

Another mum tries to fit her training in around trips to the hospital because her little girl is undergoing chemotherapy.

And almost all of us don't get enough sleep. Never enough.

So we're an odd bunch but running has brought us together and it's brought us together for a reason. The marathon takes each of us out of our comfort zone, and the weekend away transports us out of the madness of everyday life for 48 hours.

There are always tears at the finish line. You've made it. You got there. And we all know the battle each of us has faced over the last few months to get to the start line, letalone the finish.

I didn't make it to the finish line in Tauranga. I came off the course at the 30km mark. I ran too fast, didn't take on enough water and I hit the wall. But I got to the finish line to see the others come in. And that's almost as good as finishing yourself.

And later, back at the hotel ... well, that's perhaps the best part. We talk non-stop. There's a lot of teasing. Everyone gets a ribbing. We grab some dinner and we drink some wine and we spend most of the night belly-laughing.

Marathons are physically exhausting but at the same time a weekend away for four mums on the run is also so enriching.

The weekend will live on for days too, because later in the night, usually after a couple of glasses of bubbles, there will always be a ridiculous number of incidents that we will kill ourselves laughing about for days. On Saturday night it was headstands and handstands. And no, I don't know why we challenged each other to do that, but we did. And we tried to pull off a few childhood gymnastics moves too. It wasn't pretty, but it was very, very funny - and we've got the photos to prove it.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that checking out of everyday life for a couple of days with good people is like checking your mind in for a detox. It's therapy.

In fact, for us, it's better then therapy.

I'm not suggesting everyone should run a marathon or a weekend away is a solution to all of our mental health issues, but sometimes we don't see what's right in front of us - and that's the easy, simple beauty of friendship and spending time around those who make you laugh from the bottom of your boots.