Now I know why I run – because of how it makes me feel about myself and the world around me.
I have just come back after completing a 5k run/walk. I had not been training with OTRA for nearly three weeks due to illness. I was a bit nervous about doing a 5k after no training but the work I put in over the months seems to have stood to me.
I joined OTRA about nine months ago. I was very depressed, overweight and terribly unhappy. The world seemed such a dismal place and at times I had lost the will to live. Each day was horrendously difficult to get through yet to the outside world I looked like I was just about coping.
I saw a slot on TV3 a few years ago about the programme and recognised someone who was participating in it. I thought fair play to them but I could never do that…Run? I could hardly get out of the house I was feeling so low. As the months and years went by living a life free from addiction, I could not get to grips with the internal struggle and self destruction with such a negative thought process.
After much heartache, fighting and denying my depressive illness that had totally consumed me I was encouraged to go to my GP. I was severely depressed and put on medication straight away. Within about three weeks I could begin to see a difference in myself…It did not seem so daunting to face each day. Life was not the heavy struggle I has previously felt on a daily basis. I realised then after having sought help I had an opportunity to reach out some more.
That was when I thought of OTRA and the benefits of exercise in combating a mental illness, along with other therapies if necessary.
I emailed Paul [Fallon, OTRA founder] my story and soon the ball (or should I say the feet!) started moving. On our first meeting I was anxious and tearful but was gently reassured by Paul that the hardest part of the programme had just taken place…by making the initial contact. He chatted about how the programme worked and reassured me that I would not be running miles on the first day!
What I love about the programme is the group numbers are small and all clients are in and around the same pace. We meet up three times a week for an hour and slowly see the progress…which I did not think would happen with me.
I committed myself to the group because there were other people in the group who were going through similar stuff (even though it may not have been discussed – a silent connection with everyone).
I often have a battle in my head about going but I don’t want to let the others down so the training always wins! With routine the head battle is not so strong!
I have had a few injuries since I started and at times I felt like giving up but I kept up the commitment of training. There is no drama with Paul, he is just so supportive, encouraging and non judgmental. On days I couldn’t run I would walk. With all my mishaps Paul kept saying, ‘Showing up is half the battle.’
This programme has given me my life back…even if I don’t think it when I’m huffing and puffing and wanting to stop. When the closest to you say, ‘I hope you will be back training soon because you are a nicer person’, then you know something is working.
I am still at the run/walk phase but I do believe with “showing up” regularly I will get to a point when I can run a full 5k and maybe more. This programme has given me some self belief.
Over the months there has not been a dramatic change in my physical shape but I believe there will be with continued commitment. However my mental health has been transformed.
I certainly don’t run for the burning lungs, sore and aching legs, tension headaches and beetroot red face! I run because of how it helps me see the positive side to life. I always feel better after a training session even though I could be quietly cursing Paul and running during the session! I have also been laughing quite a lot recently. I never thought I could or would get out of the black hole I felt trapped in.
Words cannot describe what Paul’s dedication to the programme has given me, I am truly grateful for all his guidance, words of encouragement and praise for how far I have come with the running. My progress has been at a slow and steady pace and that is exactly how I run!