How running took James on a personal journey from grief to helping others

Posted: 19th Apr 2018

Category: Health & Fitness

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When 24- year old James Pugsley guides his running club members out on their twice weekly run through the lanes around Bideford, little do they know how much the run is an ongoing personal journey for James to overcome grief to help others.

Four years ago James’s 21 year old brother Tom was killed after being hit by a car while out cycling. The tragic and sudden loss of his brother understandably left James having to cope with grief, depression and anxiety.

James was only 20 when Tom died and coping with the loss was a daily struggle and although he received great support from his parents and close friends Dan and Paul, he turned to running as a coping mechanism for his anxiety. He became a member of Bideford AAC running club which proved to be greatly beneficial and it was this positive experience in his personal life that was soon to become part of his working life to help others.

James works as an Activity leader at Torridge Pool and he says that 1610 who manages the facility is a very supportive employer and have encouraged him to develop his interest in running to become a running coach and set up a running club: “Running is not just about physical fitness it helps me with my personal issues such as anxiety and it has helped me become more confident and happier in myself, especially about talking to people. The staff at 1610 have been very encouraging and have supported me with my running club so I can develop as a person and take pride in helping others.”

The running club which operates on Monday and Thursday evenings at Torridge Pool is aimed at novice runners and those who maybe want to get fit or return to a sport they haven’t participated in since they were at school.

Over the months James has coached his group into taking on their first 5k Park Run and is also encouraging them to take on further challenges; “I get a kick out of helping people and I understand the difficulties many people face whether it is a mental or physical problem. But with support and encouragement it is amazing what can be achieved. Our running group all completed their first 5k in under 40 minutes which is a great achievement. I have a great passion for running and I love to see people go beyond the limits they set themselves, so we will aim for a 10k next.”

James says that anxiety is a continual battle and running acts as a form of therapy to help him cope; “I still have my bad moments but going for a run does help me overcome them and if others are in a similar situation and think running could help them then please come along to the club. Anxiety and depression is sadly a very common issue in the modern world but running in the supportive atmosphere of a group may help.”

Torridge Pool running club is available on Mondays and Thursdays at 6pm-7pm for more information please Tel 01237 471794.