Coach Tim’s Inspiring Journey from Overweight and Unhealthy to Ultra Marathoner
It was the morning of the 18th of August 2014 – I don’t know what triggered it, but that was the morning I woke up and said ‘enough is enough’. I was 46 years old, weighed in at 24 stones, was a type 2 diabetic with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, I had sleep apnoea and mild depression. I was on the maximum dose of Metformin (a diabetes medication), as well as more tablets to control my blood pressure and cholesterol.
“I was on tablets to control my diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol.
I basically rattled when I walked.”
My fitness journey started with walking twice a day. I’m not going to lie; it was a real struggle. Of course my diet also changed. No more chocolates with my morning, afternoon and evening coffee, and salads and vegetables replaced the chips and fried food. The walking got easier and I increased the distance, speed and introduced hand-weights to increase my cardio and to also give me an all-over body workout.
10 weeks after starting I had my first diabetic review since starting my lifestyle change. I was thrilled that I had lost nearly 2 stones and even more by the fact that the Nurse reduced my Metformin tablets from four a day to three. That was it; I was hooked. I was determined to do even better at my next review so I decided to make the step up from walking to running. Well; easier said than done! I ran for about 15 seconds and that was it. I was a mess, and this really upset me. But with the help of my Mrs, we moved on.
I started to run for 15 seconds, then I’d power walk for 2 minutes. Before too long, this had reversed to 2 minutes of running with the 15 seconds of power walking. The weight was just falling off and by the time my next diabetic review came along I had lost nearly 5 stones in total. The Nurse again gave me nothing but praise and further reduced my Metformin to just one tablet a day.
It was at this point I realised I could reverse my diabetes and I thought “If I can do this, so can anyone.” I decided at this point that I wanted to help others that were in the same situation as myself. I went back to school in the summer of 2015 and got myself qualified as a Personal Trainer. Not only was I changing my health and fitness, I was starting a brand new career.
“I remember thinking, ‘If I can do this, so can anyone.'”
My running was really coming along. 5k became easy, and then 10k too. People who hadn’t seen me for a few months barely recognised me; I was feeling awesome. People were messaging me on Facebook telling me how I was inspiring them to start their own journey. I thought then that if I could just get one person to get up, get out, and get healthy, everything I had done would have been worth it.
At the end of the summer I got a call from my brother who told me he was signed up to do the D33 Ultra; a 33mile/50k Ultra Marathon in Scotland, and he asked if I wanted in. Thinking I was indestructible, I agreed. I started stepping up my training; yes it was tough, yes I cried a lot and yes I started to doubt myself. That was until my next diabetic review. The Diabetes Nurse was truly in awe. I had lost over 9 stones. It was at this moment she told me to stop taking my diabetic medication altogether as it was no longer needed. She also took me off the blood pressure tablets. This was a very emotional moment for me and I broke down in the surgery. I had beaten diabetes; I had reversed it.
Word got around of my achievement and I started to get phone calls from people and organisations saying what I had done was very rare and asking if I could come along for talks and meetings to try and help others to do the same.
It was now coming to the end of 2015 and my appointment at the Guys Hospital sleep apnoea clinic came round so off I went. They completed all their checks and measurements and told me to take a seat. The Dr. called me in, looked at me, then back at his paperwork and eventually asked, “Have you had surgery?” It was a proud moment when I told him no. He advised me to stop using the sleep apnoea machine and we will review again in the new year to see if we can take it off you for good. Another awesome result.
Anyway, back to reality – I had an Ultra run to train for. Being an idiot I had told everyone this was what I was doing. I had titled my mission ‘Obese to Ultra runner in 20 months‘. Why didn’t I just keep quiet about this! It took up a lot of my time and I was never sure I was going to be able to do it. It played on my mind everyday. I worked my training plan by incorporating running a variety of distances, walking, run-walks, hill runs, really steep hill climbs, the outdoor body weight gyms and believe it or not, Clubbercise.
The week of the Ultra finally arrived and I traveled up to Scotland to be with my brother. Doubt started to become my enemy. It may not seem it to others but this was massive for me.
On the 12th March 2016 I completed the D33 Ultra marathon. I couldn’t have done this without my brother, who pushed me through the whole thing. Kept my mind positive when things were getting dark mentally and physically. But my biggest hero is my best friend and wife Caroline who had nothing but faith in me. Laughed when I laughed, cried when I cried and picked me up when I couldn’t get up myself.
What I had put myself and my body through in under 20 months was extremely demanding. Was it worth it? Hell yes! I sit here typing this story at just over 14 stones, having reversed type 2 diabetes, no longer have high blood pressure, no longer have high cholesterol and have started my new career in helping others through running coaching, fitness sessions and public motivational speaking for all types of wellness groups and organisations, I truly feel blessed.
I hope that anyone reading this who thinks their life is over from being overweight, a type 2 diabetic, middle-aged, hypertensive, or just stuck in a rut can get some kind of lift from my journey. I know how you feel, I know how hard it is to take that first step, but let me tell you the rewards of change are worth every bit of pain you will go through.
“The rewards of change are worth every bit of pain you will go through.”
Now part of the We Run Running Coaching team, Coach Tim helps runners in in Bexley, Dartford and across South East London