Talk about personal strength and determination! It never ceases to fill me with inspiration to read about people who feel low, lost, and overwhelmed and fight back against those feelings.
Here’s my scenario: I picture them as a boxer in a corner of a boxing ring, with their coach whispering to them. The bell goes, and they leave their corner. They are faced with their opponent, and their feelings. They’ve faced this opponent previously, and somehow the opponent keeps winning. Something has changed, they are physically and mentally tired of those feelings and have decided they are not going to let them win, again. They are determined to stand their ground, face their opponent, come out swinging, and win! Emily’s Story reminded me of this scenario that sometimes plays in my mind’s eye. Her own determination and personal strength shine through. Tracy, Emily’s coach, gave her a hand with a little ‘boxing strategy’.
Tracy Dean is a world-class runner and her running CV can be considered ‘quite impressive’. It stretches from representing Great Britain as a member of the GB Ultra Running team, being the 2013 UK’s Trail Running Champion, and finishing 7th in the world in the 2018 World Champion 24hr Race in Romania. The race was running a 1.2k loop for 24hrs!! All this, and coming 8th female in the 2017 Ultra Trail Mont Blanc’s CCC, a 100k trail race crossing the Italian, Swiss, and French Alps, along with too many 1st and 2nd places to mention, rightly gives a huge impression that Tracy knows how to train physically, mentally, is clued into nutrition, and is rather, you could say…determined! Her philosophy is:
‘You are who you believe you are, you will achieve whatever you tell yourself you can achieve, you become all that you tell yourself you will be. You are the best version of yourself right now and you are moving forward to become the greatest version of yourself for the rest of your life’.
Tracy has a fundamental belief that people can change, and as a personal trainer has applied her knowledge, and experience of physical/mental training and nutrition to helping others reach their potential.
It was September 2018 and I was off work following a huge decline in my mental health. I was in a very dark place and got diagnosed with PTSD and anxiety. I was on over 7 different medications and I couldn’t wake up without having a panic attack. Getting dressed was an effort and I longed for a day where I didn’t feel terrified or had the feeling that I was going insane.
My sister had a membership at the gym and convinced me to sign up. I couldn’t think of anything worse. I had put on 6 stone following the death of my dad when I was 17 and I was unbelievably self-conscious so I couldn’t help thinking that putting myself in this environment would make me worse. However, a week later I found myself walking on the treadmill after taking 2 hours to even walk into the gym. I spent the whole of that walk crying so my sister suggested going to a class. I was willing to try anything to help my panic attacks so I reluctantly agreed to the provision that I could stay at the back in case I wanted to get out. The next day I found myself standing at the back of the class crippled by fear waiting for it to start. The class was led by Tracy Dean and this was the first time I’d ever met her. She smiled at me and started the class and before I knew it I had completed my first ever gym class.
To this day I still don’t know what made me do it but I told my sister to go and ask Tracy if she did personal training. I signed up that day with her and from that day my life changed forever.
I began to look forward to my weekly training session and it was something to focus on. The weight began to drop off and I was learning new techniques to help my anxiety attacks.
Around two months into my journey, I began running. I’d always dreamed of being a runner but never thought I could do it but the feeling of getting outside and running with the wind in my face was like no other feeling I’ve ever had before and soon the panic attacks were getting less and less. I struggled massively at the beginning of running. I’d panic the second I got out of breath, I didn’t understand the concept of warming up so I’d think I couldn’t do it after a few minutes of running, I hated road running because I thought everyone was staring at ‘the fat girl running’ and had horrendous shin splints and hip pain from running with so much excess weight.
However, I pushed on and each week I was addicted to getting better and seeing results. I couldn’t run for more than 10 seconds when I first started. Last week I achieved my longest run which was 9 miles.
I’m so excited to progress, enter races and take my running to the next level. That was 18 months ago.
Now, my life is so different. I never envisioned it. Instead of turning to food as a comfort, if I feel anxious, stressed or scared I lace up my pumps, headphones in and I go for a long run. I absolutely love pushing myself and have recently factored in a weekly track session. From 20-30 daily panic attacks I haven’t had a big one in over 6 months and if I feel one coming on I run it off.
I am also now off all medications, I’m over 50lbs down and have my first proper challenge planned!
On the 28th August 2020 I will be attempting the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge to raise money for the staff wellbeing team in A&E. I am an A&E Nurse and have been in awe of my colleagues during the pandemic, many will suffer from PTSD as a result of this pandemic so I would like to give back to my department. The challenge will consist of 3 peaks, 24 miles in less than 12 hours. This will be my biggest challenge to date and I am thoroughly enjoying my training for this and pushing myself every week on the mountains.
If I hadn’t taken the step of getting such an amazing coach like Tracy Dean I dread to think what my life would be like. Right now, I am the happiest I’ve ever been, the fittest, the strongest and I’m getting better every single week. My goals are in reach and my confidence is increasing every week.
2 years ago I didn’t see a way out.
Today I wake up every morning with a smile on face excited for the next adventure. Running has 100% changed my life. Just take the first step, lace up your pumps and the rest will be history.
Such an inspirational story!
Mindfulness For Cancer Patients References
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Lesdema D. and Kumano H., Mindfulness-based stress reduction and cancer: a meta-analysis., Psycho-Oncology, 20 November 2008, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/Pon.1400
Seiler A., Jenewein J., Resilience in Cancer Patients., Frontiers in Psychiatry. 2019; 10: 208.
Published online 2019 Apr 5. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00208
Phlippe R.A., et al., Effects of Physical Activity and Mindfulness on Resilience and Depression During the First Wave of COVID-19 Pandemic., Frontiers in Psychology., 29 July 2021
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