I first started running back in September 2016 at the age of 39 due to becoming a lardy 16st 2lbs and being too tight to pay for a gym membership! I hadn’t run since school, at which time I hated running, I was the school fatty, even my PE teacher said “Simpson, you’ll always be a couch potato”, thanks for that Mr Carter!
Below is a picture I took when I reached my turning point and decided it was time to change.
Of course I had to start off gradually, so I downloaded a Couch to 5k app on my phone and off I went three times a week through the local park, it hurt like hell! Damn, I couldn’t run for 30 seconds, how do these people run miles and miles I thought, how am I ever going to be able to run 5k, it seemed impossible. Strangely though every time I completed the session. Once I got up off of the floor, it actually felt quite good! This continued for 8 weeks and I just managed to complete 5k. The biggest thing I noted was how it made me feel and how it helped my mental health.
In the November of 2016 I reached two big milestones, firstly I entered my first race, it was the British Legion Poppy Run at Abington Park in Northampton, I admit I had to walk some but I achieved the 5k in 34:31, not bad for a near 40 year old ex smoking lardy butt that previously hated running!
The second milestone came after reading about how running with a club is so beneficial, I decided to look around for a local running club, it was then I found the website for Wellingborough and District Athletic Club (WDAC). It seemed like a great club but it had the word athletics in it, not a word I would have ever associated with myself, adding to that I’m not a great person socially and although I hide it well I can become quite anxious. However, I knew this would be the best way to keep motivated, lose weight and keep that great feeling of endorphins.
So one dark evening in November I turned up for my free trial, and shakily headed in and met one of the organisers, Alan Mills. Alan gave me some forms to fill out and then introduced me to the coach for group 6, Theresa. I asked Theresa how many miles we would be running, she said “oh, only about 4″, “4 miles” I gasped! I had only ever run 3.1 and that seemed like a huge distance! Well off I went and yes, I struggled but the coaches and all the members of the club were amazing and so supportive, that was it, I was hooked.
Becoming Stronger Through Adversity
In November 2018 unfortunately I burnt myself out at work and suffered a breakdown. I went back to running to help me recover, along with starting to write about it. I ran and I ran, I ran a lot! In 2019, just my third year of running I completed 3 marathons, a few half marathons, 28 miles of an ultra-marathon and ran over 800 miles in total. In addition to that I completed a 60 mile and 100-mile charity bike ride. I’ve also now lost nearly 3 stone and I’m managing my mental health so well I am off of antidepressants after 8 years!
I now use my blog and a Facebook chat group I created to help and inspire others to run for their mental health and also to help let people they are not alone.
Connect with Gavin
Thanks to Gavin for sharing his running story! What’s yours? We’d love to know. Send an email to Caroline, firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to contribute to our blog.