Hi, I’m Gavin Simpson, it’s January 2019 and I’m a 42 year old wannabe athlete, with a steadily reducing set of spare tyres. I’m married with two children of 6 and 8, one of which is currently going through diagnosis for high functioning Autism and we have a crazy two year old Border Collie called Daisy, my best friend and occasional running partner. So, why am I writing this and what’s it all about?
So here I am, 2019 has just begun and I’m currently off of work, the stresses of life, work, children etc etc got to me at the end of 2018 and I got ill with depression. I’m almost ready to head back to work now, the anxiety has diminished, those dark thoughts have all but disappeared and I’m starting to find it easier to pull my lardy behind out of bed. Running for me has been a big part of this journey and a point of focus as I recover, it was also recommended by the doctor. With some inspiration from a book I’ve read by Andy Holgate called ‘Can’t Swim, Can’t Ride, Can’t Run’ (Andy Holgate) and by a blog written by one of my fellow athletics club members, Mary Pearson (www.ahealthiermoo.com), I have decided that it would be good therapy to blog about my love of running and my battles with ‘the black dog’. I’m hoping this blog will help inspire people to take up running to help with their mental health and also to show to others in the same position that they are not on their own.
My Running Journey So Far
I first started running back in September 2016 at the age of 39, just over two years ago, 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!
Of course I had to start of gradually so I downloaded a couch 2 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 the 8 weeks and I just managed to complete 5k.
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 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 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 but 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, once I finally got to the right site of the school where they meet I 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 at the time, 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, yes I struggled but the coaches and all the members of the club were amazing and so supportive, that was it, I was hooked, within months these people had started to become good friends, it was like a big family, being the type that usually feels awkward in social situations I actually felt so at ease which is even more surprising with the fact I was also wearing Lycra, something I never thought I’d do. From then on apart from a few gaps when I have lost my mojo or had some dark days I have been to the club twice per week for a coached session, moved up from group 6 to group 4, started cycling and swimming with the club, run countless races with them proudly in my club vest and even been away to Wales with some fellow members for the weekend for a race.
In the last two and a bit years I have achieved many things, I’ve lost around two stone, my 5k PB is now 27:41, I’ve run 3 half marathons including a trail half marathon around the Gower Peninsular in Wales with a 3,000ft ascent, run 10k in under an hour, completed a 63 mile charity bike ride, completed a trail marathon challenge over 3 days and my proudest moment of all, I won the award for Group 5 Runner Of The Year 2018 with my beloved WDAC.Paragraph
I’m not sure if anyone will actually read this but if you do I invite you to join me on my journey for as long as I continue to write this as I continue to run from the black dog and chase those endorphins, lose more weight and become a better athlete, welcome along to my journey!