Katie Myint came to our attention as part of the #ThisIsMyWay campaign. Despite years of achievement - including Oxford degrees and a successful career as a doctor - Katie found herself vulnerable to depression. She needed something to help her battle her way back to wellness, and she found running. From her first tentative steps Katie has progressed to marathon, aquathlon and triathlon successs, and learned to love an active lifestyle along the way.
Here she gives some advice for others who may find themselves in a similar position, and who need a way out.
“Put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.”
To many of us, self-care does not come naturally. We are taught to put others first, and to treat other people as we would want to be treated. We are not taught that it is equally important to be kind to ourselves.
My running journey started two years ago when I was suffering from depression.
People have asked what made me depressed, as if there was a specific trigger. The answer is not that simple. Some difficult things had happened, but I had no coping strategies, and my perspective on life was warped by years of self-criticism. The negativity inside my own mind was exhausting. Every thought felt heavy, and this self-loathing left me with no energy for anything else. I withdrew from everything and everyone that made me happy.
I don’t like to dwell on that period in my life for too long because I’m worry about a return to that way of thinking. However, I am grateful, in a way, for the experience as it taught me a lot about myself.
And it led me to discover running.
I didn’t find running easy to begin with, but I kept going because it was so liberating to get outside and run, instead of sitting and stewing in my own thoughts.
Running helps to clear my mind. If I sense that I’m feeling down or stressed, I know that it’s time to put on my trainers and head out of the door. I can use this time to mull things over or zone out completely. Whether I’ve been pounding pavements or trudging through trails, I tend to feel much calmer by the time I return from a run.
Everyone runs for their own reasons. Whether it's to raise money, meet friends, see the world, break personal records, improve your physical or mental health or collect medals – whatever gets you outside and putting one foot in front of the other: it is as valid as anyone else’s reason.
First steps may seem daunting, but everyone starts somewhere. For anyone considering getting active for their wellbeing, this is my advice:
Spend a bit of time outside each day. Even if it’s only a short walk around the block or a hospital car park, take a moment to appreciate the wind in your hair, the warmth of the sun or the drizzle of rain on your skin.
Exercise is not a punishment. It is a celebration of what our bodies can do
Don’t compare yourself to other people. There will always be people who can run further and faster than you. It doesn’t make you any less of a runner.
Bring a friend along for motivation. Usually I am a solitary runner, but on longer runs I love to have company. Miles fly by when you’re chatting.
Running is a great way to explore where you live. I tend to stick to the same routes because it’s comforting. However, when it starts to feel stale, the excitement of finding a new route is enough to rejuvenate my interest in running.
Do what makes you happy. If you truly hate running, but cycling makes you feel free, then get on that bike and pedal yourself happy!
We deserve to treat ourselves as kindly as we treat our friends and family. There’s a saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” We are not in any position to help other people if we neglect ourselves. To me, wellbeing means nurturing a happy body and a happy mind. Getting active isn’t the only thing that we can do to enhance our wellbeing, but I think it’s a great place to start.