How I became a Runner, and overcame depression through exercise.

Vixx By Vixx, 6th May 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Exercise & Fitness

How I became a runner, one small but faster step at a time.

Beginning.

A lot of people ask how I got into running, as I don’t look like a runner. I don’t always tell them the truth. Sometimes I just tell them that I want to make sure that I am fit enough to do my job, which is an active and physical one. I point out that running is a great way to get in touch with nature, and enjoy the basic pleasures in life. Running is a great way to meet new people and make new friends. It is also a fantastic way to get fit and lose weight. There are many reasons as to why people start running. My reason for starting was because I suffered from depression. I was slothful and had no energy for anything mental or physical. I saw no light at the end of the tunnel and did not know what to do.
I got into running at the gym. It was not easy at first, and I liked the fact that I got more of a challenge from running, because initially it was hard for me. I had always played team sports – explosive sprinting with occasional jogs or walks around the pitch or court (depending upon what I was playing). But I couldn’t run for more than 400m without having to stop. The treadmill was my torture initially, but between us we came to a truce. It would keep going for as long as I wanted it to. So there we began.
It started slowly for me – a good warm up on the rower or the stepper and then I would face my nemesis. 30 seconds walk followed by 30 seconds jog steadily built up to 30 seconds walk and a minute’s jog. It took me a while but before I knew it I could do 5 minutes, then 10 minutes without needing to stop and walk. Unbeknown to me at the time my progress was being monitored by one of the fitness instructors and he motivated me to keep pushing me without making it obvious that’s what he was doing. Suddenly I could run 2 or 3 miles on the treadmill – and I realised that my depression had lifted. I was enjoying things in my life again, and I had new challenges for myself. The training was giving me the courage to do more things that I wanted, and the endorphins were helping me to cope with the depression that had hung over me for so long. I felt better about myself. I had never really had a sense of direction and the training was giving me things to focus on. I think that was contributing to the depressive states I found myself in before I started running.
Occasionally I would still find myself feeling a little low, but I found I looked forward to my daily exercise routine, and giving myself that extra push. By this time, I could run for over an hour without needing to stop and walk. Sometimes if I was at the gym people would chat to me whilst I was running, which always helped pass the time and take my mind off things, or I would focus on a spot further down the street and say to myself that I would walk when I hit that point (but when I got there I rarely would!). If I did get tired I would stop and walk for a minute or two, but then I would always try to run for a minute or two afterwards.
One day I was at the gym, and my instructor friend was there as I finished a long session on the treadmill. I had wanted to do an hour, but had ended up pushing to do 10 miles, as people had chatted to me all morning and I had managed to keep going without noticing the time or the distance. Then I was left to my own devices and I was at nearly 9 miles, so I decided to keep going, albeit slowly. It took me 2 hours and 1 minute to do that 10 miles, but I did it!
Harvey had been watching me and asked why I didn’t consider doing a 10km race some time. I can’t remember my exact response, but it was along the lines of “I’ve just run 10 miles – why don’t I try for a marathon?”
From that moment an idea was born. I applied for the London Marathon, but was unsuccessful on that occasion. I kept on training though as I knew that I’d get in with time. The following year I got in, and went to do my first ever race! I wasn’t the fastest, nor was I the slowest, but as I have been told many times over the years – it doesn’t matter if you are the hare or the tortoise as long as you still reach the finish line!
I run my own running group now, and a few years ago trained a group of runners to get through their own personal challenge – the Birmingham Half Marathon. Many of them started from scratch, with the same philosophy as me – 30 seconds walk, 30 seconds run, and have built it up. The whole group managed to complete the race, and all of them surprised themselves on the day by finishing faster than they thought they would.
Personally, I try to motivate and encourage, and even with those who think it is impossible I always tell them that if I can complete 14 marathons, then they can manage one! We all have our own personal marathons in life, which we should all deal with one step at a time. I no longer need medication for my depression – I have learned enough about my body to be able to cope now, and I know to ask for help if I need it. But I will always be there to offer help to runners who are just starting out, as I did all that time ago. If I can do it, then anyone can!

Tags

Beginning, Exercise, Marathon, Runner, Running, Training, Walking

Meet the author

author avatar Vixx
I like to write about fitness, nutrition, my running efforts and race reviews.

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Comments

author avatar Penny W-T
6th May 2013 (#)

Your own achievements must be sound motivation for others.

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author avatar Vixx
31st May 2013 (#)

Everyone has their own version of a marathon to face, it's not always about the 26.2.

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author avatar Kingwell
6th May 2013 (#)

I think my running days are over but I love to walk. Another great piece.

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author avatar Vixx
31st May 2013 (#)

Kingwell, walking can be just as good an activity, and many people seem to overlook it. I do almost as much walking as I do running.

Also, a friend of mine ran his first marathon aged 65 a couple of weeks ago, and my personal hero is Mr Fauja Singh, who ran the Toronto Marathon and is rumoured to be aged over 100.

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author avatar Eileen Ward Birch
31st May 2013 (#)

I'm no runner, but I do admire your grit.

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author avatar Vixx
31st May 2013 (#)

Thank you Eileen.

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