Interview: Conan Marshall
The endurance sports community is packed full of inspiring individuals who are not afraid to talk about their personal hardships. The sheer number of athletes, personalities and authors who are making a positive impact through the use of podcasts, books and social media is a welcoming sight. It’s been extremely rewarding to continue to build an archive of stories from athletes here on Dure.
In this post we feature Alister Brown, an athlete and running coach based in Worcestershire. He shares his thoughts on endurance sports and how he has personally benefited from physically challenging himself.
“Running is a really important part of my life, and right now so is swimming and cycling. A few years ago, I started to notice that after exercising, my mental state was improved.
My anxiety quietened, and I felt more content and at ease with myself. This in-turn put my issues into perspective and provided me with clarity to go ahead and better deal with them, whether those issues be with relationships, money or day to day stresses of life.
All of a sudden, once the endorphins had been released into my system, I felt more equipped to deal with things that I otherwise would probably have tried to avoid, or continually postpone to tomorrow. Those endorphins (that I renamed Dolphins) also enabled me to feel happier with myself and I used that as a kind of self-therapy to counter the depression I was also experiencing.
This is why I exercise every day and I plan to continue to do so.
As a result of this lifestyle and after learning more about myself and my personality traits through self-reflection, I learned that I have developed other useful and transferable skills.
What I have learned through sport has helped me in all other areas of my life and this confirms to me just how important it is to be active in some way, shape or form. I developed mental toughness, which not only helps me to dig deep in endurance races when my body is telling me to give up, but it helps me persevere at work trying to overcome all of the obstacles that come my way and to not give up.
I learnt self-control which helps me control my level of effort when I am training, and it also helps me to stay calm and collected in stressful all manner of life situations. I also feel more emotionally stable as a result of the discipline learnt from training and working with my triathlon coach on a daily basis.
In my view, sport should not just be looked at as something you do ‘on the side’ or as an optional extra to life. But instead it’s a super important part of being able to better develop as a human in all areas of life.
This is a reason why I am also a coach because I’d like to see if other people can or want to benefit in a similar way that I did – and of course, as a bi-product of all of this, it means that I am able to set myself fitness goals too as my physical health improves along with my mental health.
I believe that in some form and with the right guidance, the majority of people can benefit in many ways from being more physically active and I am a big advocate of that as a result of my own experiences and the many examples I have seen in other people.”
Have you used exercise to improve your mental health? Maybe you know someone who has used the outdoors as a way to deal with personal hardship?
If you have something to add to the conversation, get in touch with us and let us hear your story.