Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Interview Tuesday: Meet UK and Masters Runner Jeremy Sandford and How Running Helps Him

Helping others see the benefit of running for mental
and physical health
I met Jeremy online via the MAF Facebook group and felt his story of how running has been helping
with his mental health issues was one that needed to be shared.

Tell us a little about yourself not necessarily related to running: age, where born, education, area you live in, etc…..
My name is Jeremy Sandford, aged 54 and I was born in Norwich in the East of England although I now live in a semi rural part of Sussex in South East England . I was educated in a local grammar school studying core subjects with a particular emphasis on music and the arts . 

What is your profession?
I spent many years in the retail fashion industry but have recently retrained as a Peer Mentor and now work as a Peer Support Worker in the National Health Service . My role is predominantly coaching adults affected by mental illness the benefits of running for improving mental and physical wellbeing.

I have seen you mention how you run to deal with mental health issues, would you like to share your journey in this area?
In January 2018 I was admitted to hospital due to a serious and debilitating bout of mental illness . For my own safety and wellbeing I was sectioned and detained in hospital for what would be a period of 5 months .

As well as receiving treatment I also ran daily on the ward treadmill following the plan set by friend , coach and mentor Nick Carling . A year ago in April 2018  the medical team allowed me out for the day to take part  in The London Marathon - my first attempt at the distance. Many thought this crazy in itself - but Nick and I knew I would complete the task - I’m stronger mentally and physically than many people realize. 

In the race debrief Nick and I discussed future running and life goals and I resolved to dedicate myself to helping others with mental health issues so that they too can learn about the benefits running has for improving mental and physical health . 
2019 Brighton 1/2 Marathon

I’m delighted to say that earlier this year I passed a Peer Mentor training course and recently I qualified as an England Athletics Leader in Running Fitness giving me a licence and insurance to coach and facilitate running groups . The two combined have enabled me to secure employment with Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and I’m delighted to say I’m now helping coach a mixed ability group . 

How important is running in your recovery?
As well as traditional methods of treatment including medication and talking therapies running has been and continues to be a central and very important part of my care plan .  As well as the obvious physical benefits I personally find running an excellent method of clearing the mind and reducing stress and anxiety.

What would you say to others dealing with similar issues?
Don’t be fearful of the unknown and take the simple step of attempting a walk / jog and enjoy the benefits running can give you including mental, physical and social. 

Did you run before the mental health issues?
I have run on and off since  High School . Back then I  was more of a sprinter type specializing in 100m - 400m but on reflection I was always more built for distance events and that is what I enjoy now. 

How long have you been running?
It’s scary to think that I have been in or around running for over 40 years but I truly committed to running when I was admitted to hospital in January 2018.
I’m fortunate to be coached by Nick Carling from the eponymous Team Carling Triathlon and Run Squad based in Cairns , Australia. As well as a successful triathlete he is a successful and inspirational coach teaching the methods of Dr Phil Maffetone. With his guidance I look forward to many years ahead of PB’s and exploring my full potential.

So we get an idea of where you have been with running can you share your PR’s for: 5K, 10K marathon and any other distance you may have run in the past. 
I consider my time in hospital a fresh start physically and mentally and accordingly have wiped the slate and started afresh from January 2018.
  • 10k - 57.02
  • Half Marathon - 2.13.12
  • Marathon - 4.57.26
What is your most memorable race or races and share a little about at least one of them?
2018 London Marathon
London Marathon April 2018 -  my debut marathon but it was about so much more than the running . The fact I was alive and able to toe the start line was special and to share it with my coach who had flown in from Australia was awesome . A day I will never forget . 

Do you have a favorite workout you do?
 My favourite session of the week is to hit the trails for my long Sunday run . As well as the obvious physical benefits I’m grateful for the opportunity to be in the great outdoors and appreciate the wonders of nature. 

What does a regular week of training look like for you?
  • Monday AM aerobic run
    • PM gym
  • Tuesday AM active recovery 
  • Wednesday AM run
    • PM gym
  • Thursday AM freedom run - on hills 
  • Friday AM active recovery 
  • Saturday AM Parkrun 5km Cross Country 
  • Sunday AM long aerobic run on trails 
Do you have a favorite place or route you like to run?
The trails 

What is your favorite distance to run and race?
I enjoy the sharpness of a 10k and half marathon but I really want to explore my ability at the marathon and my training is planned accordingly.

Vibrabarefoot Shoes
I see you run in Vivobarefoot shoes – how long have you worn them and what do you like about them? 
I’ve dabbled with Vivobarefoot for a number of years . Whilst in hospital ( 5 months ) I walked barefoot on the ward and ran on the treadmill in Vivobarefoot slowly building up the strength in my feet . I now only have Vivobarefoot footwear in my wardrobe and have not worn more regular footwear since January 2018 .

What is the farthest you have run in them?
Both my Marathon races 26.2 miles. 

Are they the only shoes you run in?
Yes and I wouldn’t even contemplate returning to what is considered normal footwear by society in general .

I think I also saw you were an Ambassador for Patagonia – how did that come about and why Patagonia?
I have always appreciated the quality of Patagonia clothing  both as casual wear and more specifically for trail running and I identify with their ethos regarding for example the environment ,  fairtrade and the treatment of the workers who manufacturer the product. When the opportunity arose  to become part of their programme I was humbled and consider it a privilege to be so. 

I understand not too long ago you were vegan, what made you at that time turn to veganism?
Aware of the ethical implications with regards to food production and a certain amount of peer pressure I followed and explored the vegan diet and lifestyle for a period during 2018 . 

I understand that recently you have gone to more LCHF, is that correct?  
Yes I  migrated back to a LCHF diet in early 2019. 

I ask this next question not to bash vegans but to better understand why you changed – what made you move from being vegan to a more LCHF diet?
I acknowledge there are very  many successful vegan athletes eg Rich Roll and Scott Jurek but for me personally I was suffering tiredness in training and the over reliance on carbs was causing bloat, weight gain and tiredness as well as problems with my latent mental health issues. My decision to revert to LCHF was personal but also endorsed by my coach and medical team. 

What changes have you seen since your move to more LCHF
I have reintroduced eggs , fish , some meat and an assortment of healthy fats and I’m now losing body fat and bloating , less hungry in between meals, sleeping better and my endurance and recovery is returning to my pre vegan days . I respect the vegan choice of others but realise a LCHF diet is best for me although  I am now more mindful of ethical farming practices and purchase my groceries accordingly.

Do you have any long-range plans with respect to running?
Reach my potential at the marathon and make a step into the unknown and  tackling some Ultra Trail races . 

What do you like best about living and running where you reside in England?
I can leave my door and be on the trails within 5 minutes - leaving tarmac and cars behind me . 

Anywhere else you would like to visit to run?
2018 Chester Marathon
I’m fortunate this July I will be taking part in the Gold Coast Marathon in Australia giving me the opportunity to link up with my coach again and meet some of my teammates in Team Carling for the first time .

Do you have any bucket list races?
As I write this reply my training focus is on my participation in The Gold Coast Marathon in July 2019 where the goal is an improvement on my personal best . Longer term I hope to return to the Southern Hemisphere and take part in the marathons in Brisbane , Melbourne and Wellington. 

What do you struggle with most with regards to running?
Accepting that recovery is a vital part of training and knowing when to take it easy .

What do you see as a trend in running?
I feel the growth of trail running and ultras will continue as more and more runners take up the challenge and venture off road. 

If you had one, well maybe two or three, things to say those that are running to encourage them what would it be?
Enjoy yourself and don’t put a limit on your expectations. With well planned training , patience and dedication you can reach your full potential. 

Do you have a website or other social media site you would like to share?
Any closing comments?
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to do this interview. I humbly remain a runner on a journey of recovery tackling the stigma of mental illness one step at a time. 

********You can see past interviews here********

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