My Story - Running saved my life

mass running back

Today is Time to Talk Day  and England Athletics are encouraging people to #RunAndTalk to improve their mental wellbeing through running and to break down the stigma associated with mental health by getting people talking. 

On Saturday 28th October 26- year-old Sam Brown from Sidley, Bexhill completed the Beachy Head Marathon; 26.2 miles of gruelling but beautiful off road running. So did 2157 others and, of course, everyone that crossed that finish line is to be admired. But Sam’s achievement is particularly remarkable because in May last year he tried to end his own life.

Sam’s story starts 12 years ago on what should have been a normal bank holiday Monday afternoon in Eastbourne. He was attacked by some young people who assaulted him and photographed the incident. This horrific attack deeply affected Sam and his mental health. He recounts that he felt unable to leave the house for several years afterwards, and found it difficult to trust people. He suffered feelings of anger and fear, and not surprisingly perhaps, became very depressed.

But in 2015 Sam’s life began to take a more positive turn. With support from family and friends he started volunteering at the Pelham in Sidley, working in the new kitchen washing up and preparing delicious food for customers. It was here at the Pelham that Sam first met Jacqueline Youldon who runs an organisation called Walk2Run which teaches people how to run to support their mental, physical and social wellbeing. She is the group leader for RunTogether group Walk2Run and an England Athletics Mental Health Ambassador. Encouraged by friends, Sam joined his first Walk2Run session.

The rest should basically ‘be history’, because Sam became an unstoppable running force. He came to Walk2Run every single Friday morning, taking to running like a duck to water, and it wasn’t long before he started entering local races.

However, in the spring of 2017, illness and the anniversary of the attack triggered suicidal feelings in Sam and he made several attempts to take his own life. Thankfully he was helped by his dog Crystal who alerted passers-by. Sam remembers too the kindness of strangers who heard Crystal barking and contacted the police, and Sam was then able to get the help and support that he so desperately needed.

And he kept running, returning to the place of the attack and completing the Eastbourne 10km and as well as the Beachy Head marathon.  

Sam says that running and fitness have had a massive impact on his life. He’s made new friends, he’s lost over 4 stone in weight, his confidence has grown so much that he recently led a fitness class on World Mental Health Day raising £220 for Together Wellbeing. And these days, rather than being too ashamed to leave his house, Sam is now proud of himself. He recently attended a Leadership in Running Fitness course so will soon be leading groups himself.

His motto for life is now proudly tattooed on his arm. It says, “Keep going, you can do it, believe in yourself, never give up.”

And RunTogether group leader Jacqueline’s thoughts - "Come and run with us, it might just save your life." 



To support Time to Talk Day on Thursday 1st February England Athletics are encouraging people to #RunAndTalk to improve their mental wellbeing through running and to break down the stigma associated with mental health by getting people talking about it.
During the week of 27th January to 2nd February 2018 we’re encouraging people to run one mile or further and to have a chat with friends, family, colleagues or other runners. This can be done at a time and location of their choice or by joining one of the organised runs at an England Athletics club or RunTogether group.