Episode 27: Liz Richardson

Happy episode day! Today I talk to lovely friend of mine and triathlete extraordinaire Liz Richardson. I’ve known Liz since 2009, when we met on a cold athletics track at Meadowbank stadium; Edinburgh Triathletes’ winter training. As newbies to triathlon (and hilariously, I have STILL never competed in a triathlon), we bonded over bike shopping and signing up for and racing the Stirling Duathlon on what felt like a gale force day in Scotland. A memory that still pains me.

Since placing second last at Stirling, and feeling demoralised and dejected about it, Liz’s trajectory in the sport of triathlon is nothing short of astonishing. She now competes at distances from sprint to half ironman, smashing out podium finishes in all of these. In 2015 she was European Champion in Middle Distance Triathlon for her age group and last year had five overall podium wins and three age group wins, qualifying for the Half Ironman World Championships in Nice this summer. As well as managing a schedule including a heavy training load (seriously, I don’t know how triathletes do it), full-time job and a lot of voluntary work, Liz has been through some challenging life experiences in the past few years.

In our conversation she reflects honestly on her experience of living with depression since university, and the loneliness she frequently struggles with. It was interesting to learn about how the condition manifests for her, what has gone some way to helping as well as the triggers that crop up in daily life. We also get into her experience of attempting a solo IVF attempt a year ago, what this process was like and what she is still dealing with. This is intensely personal stuff and Liz freely admits she is rarely open about her struggles but it’s also the stuff that if talked about, helps connect us better to friends and family and inspires others to take the same steps. We talked about:

· What depression feels like

· Loneliness

· Anti-depressants

· Cold water swimming as therapy

· Triathlon training and racing

· Attempting IVF solo

· Counselling and therapy

· Talking about mental health online

· Self-care routines and ambitions

I’m so grateful to Liz for speaking up and she should be incredibly proud of herself for what she has achieved in her life and in triathlon, despite facing the black dog of depression at regular intervals. If you know someone who you suspect might be feeling low or in the grips of a mental health struggle, ask them how they are doing today and if a chat or company would help. Everyone’s experience is different and even if they are isolating, just the fact you are asking might just help a little.

So check out the episode from Friday 15th March at 8am on iTunes, Soundcloud, TuneIn, Stitcher and most of the Android apps, as well as the show notes below. If triathlon, gorgeous cats and incredible cakes are your thing also be sure to look up Liz’s Insta feed. She bakes celebration cakes for a charity to be given to children without much support, and they are AMAZING. There’s been a slight delay with streaming to the apps of late, so bear with it if the episode doesn’t appear until a little later.

If you find our conversation helpful give us a shout out on social and let Liz know. Enjoy!

Show notes

· BBC article on cold water swimming and depression

· Wim Hof episode on the Rich Roll podcast

· Portsmouth University cold water swimming study

· Going the (middle) distance: Liz’s wonderful blog

· Liz on Twitter

· Liz on Instagram

· JETS Triathlon Squad

· Dan Buetner episode on the Rich Roll podcast

· The Blue Zones Solution book

· Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive

· Medicins sans frontieres

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