When Leicestershire Paramedic manager Tim Hargraves was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) he wanted to take a proactive approach and do something to support his mental wellbeing. As a self-proclaimed ‘chunky monkey’ Tim explored running as a way of freeing his mind and helping him lose weight.
Now he’s making his final preparations for the biggest challenge of his life and tells his inspirational story of how he’s gone from running on the spot to running a 26 mile marathon in only 16 months.
So let’s get one thing straight, I’m no fitness guru, nor am I a nutrition expert but what I am is me; a dad of two, a husband, and a Paramedic. I also volunteer my time with the Air Cadets.
Over the years I have (and still am) battling PTSD. I’d been suffering for a long time without knowing and have only recently plucked up the courage, after I hit rock bottom, to do anything about it.
I have always been a chunky monkey, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t. At my heaviest I was over 20 stone and in January, I was home alone one day when I realised I weighed around 18.5 stone. It was time to do something.
I started with using the Nintendo Wii to exercise and found I liked running on the spot. Everything jiggled that much it hurt, which confirmed I had to do something about it. Stop? Never!
After two months of daily exercise, using the MyFitnessPal app to record everything I was eating and my exercise, I had lost one stone. I also found that my mind was healthier. Who’d of thought running would give me headspace, focus and a healthier lifestyle.
I took things up a step and started running on the spot to YouTube running videos. Putting myself in the Caribbean running on a beach was a great distraction from a grey wet UK. Then, I finally stepped outside and found the joy, and pains of becoming a runner.
Since then my training has grown from strength to strength and I’ve taken part in a 10k run and a half marathon. Then I secured my place in the London marathon 2018 and since starting my journey I’ve lost 7.5 stone.
Now I’m not saying losing weight and exercise fixed my head, not by a long shot. The support of family, friends, my employer and an amazing course of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) saw to that, but exercise has given me headspace and focus. Losing weight and feeling healthier has given me greater confidence in my personal life to lift my own mental health.
My running has helped me and I want to use it to help others so my marathon challenge is to raise money for the Air Ambulance charity. I have worked alongside the team for a long time, and certainly in more recent years I have seen up close the great work they do. They don't receive government funding and rely on donations to continue getting fantastic clinical care right where patients need it most. As a clinician, there’s nothing better than when you have critical trauma patient than seeing that yellow helicopter land and knowing you’re not on you own anymore.
You can follow Tim’s journey on Facebook.
How to donate
Tim will run the London marathon on 22 April 2018. Please show your support:
Just Giving page or Text TIMH54 and the donation amount to 70070 to pay by phone.