In ‘The Story of’, you can read stories from users of our app, stories about real people with great experiences, victories, and goals. Get inspired, this week by Sifra, who has only been running for a year, but has already learned a lot about the positive effects of running. Physically, but also mentally.
Climbing out of a dark place…
As fit as Sifra is now, she wasn’t in the past. Sifra suffers from autism and is sensitive to depression. Unfortunately, she had to deal with depression several times. Not only did she feel completely helpless, but she also had suicidal thoughts. These enormous lows in her life even got her admitted for some time. “For a long time, I had the feeling that I was on the sidelines of society because I was in therapy most of the time. I felt like I would never get my bachelor’s degree and would never work like any other young adult. But now I understand myself much better and I can accept that I am different. I will never become ‘normal’. But for me, that’s no longer necessary. I have found people who accept me for who I am and I feel less pressure from society. At this moment, I’m doing a new study and I want to get my driver’s license. I need to do things like that one step at a time because doing them at the same time causes stress/panic and then everything will fail. Living a depression-free life is my main goal.”
Sifra started running to be more comfortable in her skin, to lose weight, but also to clear her head. Nowadays, thanks to her new mindset and regular exercise, she doesn’t have to take medication anymore and she feels much better. Ready to set and achieve new goals.
From regular visits to the pharmacy to being medicine free and losing weight
“I took a lot of medication. I always say: I swallowed a pharmacy. At one moment I tried everything. Antidepressants, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, sleep medication, tranquilizers and I drank a lot of alcohol to numb everything. Now, in addition to quitting medication, I’ve also stopped drinking alcohol and I feel great about it.” Sifra has lost 20 kilos in one year due to exercise and a healthier diet (more proteins and complex carbohydrates). Her new mindset and appearance give her a lot of self-confidence and a boost to her mental health. However, she will always have to pay attention to retaining structure, regularity and rest. Having a fixed schedule helps her not deviate from this.
Running: the first step to a more social life
“When I started running, it felt like some sort of therapy. I mainly thought: ‘It’s easy; you just download an app, buy shoes and try it. You only have to go out the front door, you don’t owe anything to anybody and you can fit it into any weekly schedule’, And a very important point for me: I didn’t have to socialize with anyone.” After 2 months of running, Sifra got overtrained and had to take a step back. But in February 2019 she was back on track and signed up to participate in a performance run. An exciting and challenging goal, more mental than physical. “I, someone who mainly avoided people, suddenly became more social on my own? It was terrifying, but that run tasted like more.”
Sifra joined a local running club, something she didn’t see herself do 2-3 years ago. “I feel that I am part of a group now and have a connection with that society that I felt like I was so excluded from. Training together is a lot of fun, you can push yourself further. Like doing interval training, I really don’t like to do those on my own.
But I do like to do my endurance runs and races on my own. I also run competitions on my own, although I think it’s great that my husband is at every finish But in the end performing is something I want to do for myself.”
Road to Rotterdam!
For many people, it is an ultimate goal: running the Rotterdam marathon in April. Last May, Sifra also decided that this marathon will be her first marathon. After running half marathons every month, she feels that she is ready for it: “Doubt brings unease. Since I’ve made the decision, I’ve been training much more efficient. I know that my body can already handle a marathon. I eat healthily, and in terms of stamina and muscular strength, I do well. In addition to running, I do strength/core training in support and that works well together.”
Good preparation is key
In preparation of her marathon, Sifra wants to have run her first 25 kilometers in November/December. “I want to experience that long-distance moment for the first time by myself, then together. I’m also testing gels and bars for the marathon. And a lot of mental preparation. I ask everyone about their own experiences, so I can learn from them and benefit from them. Like, what are the pitfalls, what should I pay attention to, at what pace am I going to train and at what pace am I going to run the race? I want to know everything in advance.” As you can see Sifra has fallen in love with running, besides weighing 20 kilos less it has brought much more in her life. “Running has become a lifestyle!
Want to follow Sifra’s road to Rotterdam? Follow Sifra on Instagram: @sifra.run.addict