"“Not only has Tri January given him the opportunity to go out and take positive steps in his fitness, it has showed him that age, size and circumstance are no barrier.”"

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Recovering from mental health problems with Tri January

Having suffered from long-term depression, Carl used Tri January to improve his fitness and help him get back into sport.

With his wife Tracie undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy for the last number of years, Carl found coping with her care and looking after their children difficult, and his mental health deteriorated.

Following her treatment, Tracie was keen to see Carl’s mental health improve, helping him to get active through the Tri January campaign.

“Carl has suffered from depression for as long as we’ve been together,” his wife Tracie said. “Carl struggled in dealing with both my breast cancer treatment and looking after our four children.

“His weight increased, his health deteriorated, and he could no longer climb the stairs without getting out of breath,” Tracie mentioned. “He near enough became a hermit and would try and avoid going outside, let alone talk to anyone.”

Depression, as defined by the NHS, is when you “feel persistently sad for weeks or months, rather than just a few days” and, as a result of his depression, Carl stopped playing his beloved American Football.

“He got into the non-contact version of American Football and played with our local team, Leeds Samurai,” Tracie said. “However towards the end of the season the black cloud descended, and he stopped going to training and social events.”


Carl in his Tri January Heroes t-shirt


In 2019, Tracie and Carl took on the Tri January challenge and, with its return in 2020, Tracie saw it as a great way to get Carl active again: "This year he's really ging for it. He prefers to go to the gym at 11pm when it's deserted, but the challenges are helping him to get out of the house and push himself further.

“Not only has Tri January given him the opportunity to go out and take positive steps in his fitness, it has showed him that age, size and circumstance are no barrier.”

This year, Tri January helped to set participants on their way to a healthy and active lifestyle in 2020 with a bingo card of health and fitness challenges, which included going for a swim, doing a spin class and eating five-a-day.

For Carl, the focus of the challenges and sense of completion has helped him to get active again, “his whole mindset is slowly changing,” said Tracie. “He’s proud of himself and wants to get outside, talk to people and, crucially, is taking part in a training camp with Leeds Samurai again.

“The club have been really supportive and encouraging him and the teamwork and sense of community has really helped him in his recovery. Since being more active, he has also taken up coaching a local u17 team at the Leeds Academy of American Football.”

With January coming to an end, Tracie has her eyes set on helping Carl to keep active and involved in sport and exercise throughout 2020: “The mental and physical change in Carl has had a huge impact on our whole family.

“As we aim to complete Tri January, the plan is to get Carl involved in a local GO TRI event so he can take part in a race alongside other people new to the sport and tick off the final challenge.”

GO TRI Events are run in local communities by clubs, groups and event organisers. They’re accessible and affordable, with the emphasis on taking part taking in swim, bike, run in a supportive and welcoming environment.