Northants dad who has lost 3 stone explains how running helped him get on top of his mental health

Gavin Simpson is now helping others by creating a ‘positive’ chat group.

Saturday, 8th February 2020, 11:00 am

A dad-of-two who has suffered with anxiety and depression ‘on and off’ since he was a child turned to running to help his mental health.

Gavin Simpson has lost three stone since he took up running and has just come off antidepressants for the first time in eight years.

Now he is looking to help others with their mental health with his ‘positive’ chat group, which he set up recently.

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Gavin running and with his son Joshua after his first ever race.

Gavin Simpson, who works as a finance analyst for Travis Perkins said: “I started running three years ago when I needed to get fit. I was approaching 40 and putting on a spare tyre.

“I started with Couch 2 5K and it really helped.

“I lost nearly three stone and that helped with the recovery from my breakdown in November 2018.”

The 43-year-old, who feels ‘free’ when he runs, clocked up a huge 800 miles last year including three marathons, two half marathons and an ultra marathon as well as two long charity bike rides.

He added: “Once you have the adrenaline pumping around you, you relax and start to have a chat even if you’re not normally good in social situations.

“It takes you to a meditative state. Your mind just empties and you feel free.

“After a run you can’t be down or sad, you are just pretty happy.”

Gavin who used to drive a bin lorry says running also helped him to find confidence and excel in his career.

He said: “I started working in the office at Travis Perkins and I hit it off with spreadsheets. I found something that I was interested in.

“I was a retail manager before but I went out on my own driving a truck instead of getting help.

“I put a lot of this down to discovering running. It gave me confidence.”

‘Running from the black dog’, the black dog being depression, is a blog Gavin writes alongside his Facebook chat group.

Gavin, from Wellingborough, added: “I’ve been on antidepressants for eight years and I’ve just come off them now. I’m managing it just through writing and running.

“I do it all to break down the stigma of mental health.

“The group lets people talk about it more openly and in a positive environment and not being judged. It will really help people.

“There are around 60 members now. Some who are just starting running, others who have run 60-mile races before and others who just want a chat.

“You don't need to already be a runner and I also like to say that no matter how far or how fast anyone runs they are a runner.

“It's all about keeping a healthy body to encourage a healthy mind.”

In the future, Gavin hopes the group, which he only set up a couple of weeks ago, will spread across the country and the members will be able to meet and run together.

“It would be amazing if we could all meet up on a Saturday morning somewhere for Park Run, a coffee and a chat,” Gavin added.

To join the chat group, search Facebook for ‘Black Dog Chat Group’.