Chesterfield nurse who suffered PTSD after working on Covid wards to attempt unique marathon world record in Ashgate Hospice fundraiser
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Joan started running after struggling with his mental health during the pandemic – when he was redeployed from his NHS office job and began treating Covid patients on an intensive care ward.
He said: “It’s been just over a year since I was diagnosed with PTSD following my redeployment to work as a nurse during the pandemic. The world around me was crumbling and I was struggling with my mental health. I was already on medication for my anxiety attacks and the next step was to start antidepressants.
“But as a last resort before taking more pills, my therapist suggested trying out running. I was quite overweight and the thought of running horrified me, but I decided to give it a go.”
As motivation, Joan signed himself up to run the London Marathon. Despite having a tough start to his new regime, he soon discovered that running was having a positive impact on his mental health.
“Most people start with the couch to 5k programme, but not me. I decided to do couch to marathon in eight months. To motivate myself, I put my name down to run the London Marathon for Cavell Nurses’ Trust.
“First time I tried to run I only lasted less than a mile and I thought I was going to pass out. My heart was pounding and I couldn’t breathe properly. The worst part was the following morning when I tried to get out of bed – every inch of my body was painful. I could barely move.
“I had a couple of days rest and I tried again. This time I ran a bit further. Then after a week I noticed something that I hadn’t managed to do for a long time – I was sleeping for eight hours. My body was so tired that I slept all night through. For the first time in months, I was not waking up in the middle of the night from nightmares.
“Running broke the vicious cycle. Because I was rested in the morning, I was able to concentrate more. My mood swings improved and suddenly I felt better.”
When restrictions were lifted in March 2021, Joan joined the North Derbyshire Running Club. Shortly after, a friend suggested that he attempt to break a world record at that year’s London Marathon – and Joan decided he would try to become the fastest runner dressed as a pint of beer.
To become the fastest pint in the world, Joan would have to finish the race in under four hours. Unfortunately, he came short of that – but said he had transformed himself both physically and mentally.
“My first attempt at beating the Guinness World Record at the London Marathon didn’t go to plan, but I felt on top of the world. The closer I was to the finish line, the louder the crowds, and the encouragement was fantastic. I felt like I was winning the race.
“I managed to go from couch potato to completing a marathon in eight months. Thanks to running, I was also winning my battle with PTSD and on top of that I was five stone lighter and a lot healthier.”
At the 2022 London Marathon, Joan will once again try to break the record – and he is going to be fundraising for Ashgate Hospice along the way.
He said: “This time I have decided to support Ashgate Hospice whilst taking on the challenge. Ashgate is my local hospice, and I became aware that hospices across the UK only receive about a third of their income from the UK government and the rest from the public through donations and fundraisers. I want to do my bit to help.
“Ashgate Hospice is a unique and special kind of place that supports families who are experiencing an advanced life-limiting illness. I’m hoping to raise £5,000 in total so Ashgate can be there to support patients and families on its inpatient unit and out in the community.”
Joan is using #Pint4Ashgate on social media, and any donations can be made here.