Stephen LangImage by: Noel Hendrickson
stephen lang
29 October 2020

Ultra-athlete Stephen Lang on the power of vulnerability

3 minutes read time

“Strap a pair of running shoes on your feet, you focus. The endorphins you get. When I run, I feel like I am outrunning any stress in my life. Nothing crosses my mind and I feel like it’s a break from everything else that is going on in our busy lives. Running is a release for me.”

Ultra-athlete Stephen Lang has joined forces with men’s health charity, Movember to raise awareness of the global crisis facing men’s mental health.

Lang is a professional ultra athlete and adventurer, production manager, and an avid skier based in North Vancouver BC. He was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 11 but it has not slowed him down . However, in a new video by Movember, theathlete reveals that for years, he hid the toll it was taking on his mental health in order to avoid appearing what he considered at the time “weak” or “unmanly.”

" It’s not about being too proud or feeling that it's a weakness. It's not a weakness, it's a strength. "

It’s an unfortunate reality for many Canadian men. According to a 2019 Movember-funded research, half of young men have avoided talking about their feelings because they don’t want to appear less of a man.

“All of us deal with some form of mental health on a day-to-day basis with everythinggoing on in life. Then you throw diabetes, anxiety, OCD and this drive to be perfect.I’m responsible for a lot of different things going on all at one time. As well, I have to be fully responsible for my diabetes, mental wellbeing, and physical fitness/healthy lifestyle to balance everything properly. It all sits in my head and creates some anxiety that I have to manage on a day to day basis. And then I don't want to share it with other people because I don't want to be negative.”

“We are often too proud and want to push through everything on our own. And don't want to admit when we are struggling or dealing with something in our lives that we actually need help with.”

Stephen has backed the Movember’s Man of More Words campaign which encourages men to embrace vulnerability, and to open up when they feel they might be struggling with their mental health or just need to talk with someone.

“Being a man of more words means you're willing to actually open up and ask for help. It is okay to not be okay. I'm proud to share my life story in order to give people hope and encouragement to say, ‘I have challenges, but I can still work through these challenges in order to be successful in life.’ I don't want anyone to suffer in silence. Asking for help and speaking up about challenges in our lives makes everything else easier. It’s not about being too proud or feeling that it's a weakness. It's not a weakness, it's a strength.”

This year, Stephen is taking on Movember’s Mo Your Own Way fundraising challenge, a choose-your-own adventure, epic in scope and scale, raising much-needed funds and awareness for men’s physical and mental health through the month of November.

“The goal is to Move 1000 km and 1,000,000 steps by the use of my feet. I want to include the use of sports that lay outside my comfort zone, so I am open to having other athletes’ team up with me to discover something new. I have built in a 10-day buffer in case of any issues with illness, diabetes, or injuries that need a rest day. So technically, I will achieve the goal in 20 days.”

Help Stephen reach his fundraising goal: