Dr Steve Mayers is a runner and clinical psychologist from the U.K.. Initially a promising high-school athlete who struggled with injuries, he is now in his early thirties and running faster than ever. Steve has developed an approach to running that draws on his skills as a clinical psychologist in the hope of achieving his potential as an athlete. He recently beat his 14-year-old personal best over 1500m and hopes to continue improving on his times. Steve currently lives in Sydney and trains with Run Crew. You can follow him on Instagram @runstm.
Here’s what he had to say:
In the North of England, people love to eat fish and chips and I am definitely no exception. In order to leave school at lunch-time, my friend and I would tell our PE teacher that we were going for a run and instead would walk half a mile to the chippy. One day we decided to actually go for a run and when we passed the chippy, my friend stopped to get his chips and I decided to keep going. I was surprised that I could maintain my running and even increase my speed; bouncing through the streets was freeing, liberating and I wanted more of that feeling.
Within two years, I was training at a local club. I had some success at a regional level in cross-country and over middle distances (going on to beat the now pro-runner, Jonny Mellor, to win the county junior championships – a proud moment!) Over the next couple of years, it became clear to me that running was what I wanted to do with my life. I applied to the University of Liverpool with the intention of becoming an athlete and my undergraduate psychology studies taking a back seat. Improving my times over 800m (1’57”) and 1500m (4’05”), I entered early 2006 after a period of good quality training and increased fitness. Then, as every runner has experienced, my body broke down and I couldn’t seem to get things back on track again. What came next was a series of injuries, low-mood, changing priorities, new relationships, relocation and a never-ending attempt to ‘get back’ to running. A few months of this eventually became ten years, and running became a much smaller part of my life and something that I doubted I would be able to do again.
During this time, I turned my focus instead to my professional work which led me to train as a clinical psychologist. This experience gave me a way to think systematically about the human mind and behavior, helping me to consider how to facilitate meaningful change when people are distressed. Amongst other things, clinical psychology led me to appreciate the importance of emphasising process and the inter-connectedness of our mind and body. Missing the liberating, freeing feeling I used to get from running, I decided to apply these ideas to try and get back to consistent exercise. In developing a systematic, process-oriented, evidence-based approach, I aimed to improve my mobility, fitness and psychological wellbeing. Over the next four years, I sought support from excellent physiotherapists, podiatrists, coaches, practiced meditation and worked harder and more consistently than ever before to give myself a shot at achieving my potential.
I moved to Australia in Spring 2017. Invigorated with a new routine and plenty of sunshine, I found some momentum and improved my fitness rapidly over the first few months. My appendix burst which meant four weeks of no running at the beginning of 2018. A subsequent four months of training after this set back saw me run 32’29 over 10km (a three-minute improvement on my PB). Soon after, a stress response in my foot meant weeks of no running in Winter 2018. Whereas at one time, I might have succumbed to my injuries, choosing to prioritise other things as I had in the past, this time I kept going, confident that the process I had developed would see me through. After a late start to the Summer 18/19 track season, I eventually ran 4’04 for 1500m, beating my 14-year-old best. Whilst this may not be a stand out time for many it was an incredibly significant achievement for me. I had succeeded in beating a time I thought I may never achieve again.
More importantly, I had reaped the rewards of an approach which allowed me to reconnect with the freedom and liberation that running has always given me.
These recent performances are step towards my potential and I’m enjoying my running more than ever.
In early May, I’ll run the ‘Sydney 10’ and hope to beat my previous 10km time. Two weeks later I’ll run my first ever half marathon before heading to the U.K. for five weeks, during the European track season, where I hope to beat my times over 3000m and 5km. I’m excited to prepare for the races and for what I might be able to achieve in the future.
We wish you all the best Steve moving forward! It's great to see you pushing the limits once again.. #whywerun
You can follow Steve on Instagram HERE