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Thomas Dunning Athlete Ambassador

running sports fitness

Thomas lost a huge amount of weight and uses running to help with his mental health. He talks to Sundried about life as a runner.

Have you always been into sport?

I’ve always liked sport and at one time played basketball for my local team RAF Waddington. I went onto coach an under 18 team for a year before landing my apprenticeship in mechanical engineering. I picked up running in 2013 before I developed mental health issues. I gained a lot of weight and decided to get back into running and help those suffering with mental illness, so I started my blog to discuss my own personal experiences, to help those suffering get out and get fit; and finally to keep me going!

What made you decide to become a runner?

When I was at my heaviest (23 st 6lb – 328lb) I wanted to lose weight and really enjoyed it before my mental health took a nosedive. I decided to get back into it with my wife’s encouragement and support and within 8 months I lost over 8 stone!

I love how running gives a release where I can put some music on, lace up my trainers and just run. The feeling of letting out stress, accomplishing something and having that time of personal reflection always ends my exercise feeling refreshed and happy (albeit fairly tired!)

Its also a sport which has a huge support network and can be done by almost everyone!

What’s been your favourite race to date and why?

I would have to say the Liverpool Rock and Roll half and full marathon. The course is incredible with a different musician at almost every mile! The people running and spectating are massively motivational and supportive; I was even photobombed by two guys dressed as Axel rose and Slash while I had a photo on the famous Penny Lane!

And your proudest achievement?

My proudest achievement would be losing a huge amount of weight to something manageable and healthy; sharing my story to help motivate and inspire those who may need it.

Have you ever had any racing disasters / your toughest race yet?

The toughest race I’ve completed is the Rat Race dirty weekend at 20 miles and 200 obstacles which at the time was the farthest I’ve run in a single event – never mind the amount of obstacles!

The only racing disaster I’ve had is where I got to the last obstacle, about 50 yards from the finish line, and fell off the 12 ft wall landing on my back and head.

How do you overcome setbacks?

Suffering with an anxiety disorder, PTSD and Borderline Personality Disorder, it's important I keep a positive head about setbacks. Rather than dwelling on things, I put a plant together of “Okay, What can I do now then? What’s next?” The worst thing you can do is look back on it, as you’ll miss what’s coming up ahead of you.

What is the best bit of advice you wish someone had told you before you started competing?

Don’t skimp out on your footwear! And get a gait analysis!

What are your goals for 2018?

Come back after my recent ankle injury and continue to push down my personal bests in training and help and support those with mental illness to exercise and seek help.

Who do you take your inspiration from?

I take my inspiration from my family. We’ve all had our own personal battles and we have always been there to love and support one another. I also take inspiration from my wife because she dedicated every minute of our relationship to supporting me and cheering me on, keeping me in line and not letting my own demons affect me.

What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?

I love how the company ethics of sustainable and responsible products are such high quality, made out of recycled materials and still so comfortable to use!

I adore my Olperer T-shirt because its so comfortable and made out of recycled coffee grounds!

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