Ultra marathon runner Ira - Still Not Bionic

February 03 2017

AUTHOR and ultra-marathon runner Ira Rainey knew it was time to seek help when he found himself steering his car into the path of a truck.

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AUTHOR and ultra-marathon runner Ira Rainey knew it was time to seek help when he found himself steering his car into the path of a truck.

Thankfully Ira, who grew up in Downend, jumped to his senses and steered away but the frightening incident was the wake up call he needed to seek help.

Ira's journey of learning to cope with and manage his depression has been chronicled in his new book, Still Not Bionic: Adventures In Unremarkable Ultrarunning.

In 2014, Ira was shortlisted for Best New Writer with his first book Fat Man to Green Man in the British Sports Book Awards and won the silver award in The Running Awards best book category. 

In Still Not Bionic, Ira continues his previous theme of running ultramarathon distances  - this time taking on the challenge of a 100 mile foot race - but the book also confronts darker issues. 

Ira was diagnosed with severe depression and the book is a frank and revealing account of how he battled his inner demons and came to understand that running extreme distances is as much about mental endurance as physical. 

Ira’s second book examines how important mental state, support and friendship are, not just to running long distances but also to life and happiness as a whole. 

It’s a theme that has resonated with readers and many of the Amazon review comments describe Ira’s account as ‘inspirational’ in helping readers confront mental health issues. 

Ira, 47, who is married with two children and a step-son, said he hadn't really recognised he was suffering with depression until the incident with the truck forced him to seek help.

"I found myself really low but was in denial there was anything wrong," he said.

"The crux point was when I drove to work one day and found myself steering towards a truck coming the other way. It wasn't a conscious thing; it just happened. I pulled back across, pulled over and ended up going to my doctor."

His GP diagnosed Ira as having severe depression and signed him off work. His book takes off from that point and examines how running, friends, family and cognitive behavioural therapy helped Ira deal with his depression.

The book also examines Ira's journey to running 100 miles, which he achieved last June.

"For me there wasn't any single trigger for my depression," he said.

"Depression saps you of any joy. I was apathetic and would stay in bed all day. I wouldn't enjoy the things I'd normally enjoy.

"I have looked back at that time but there's nothing I can put my finger on. In a way that's a worry because if you can pinpoint a cause, you can identify it and then deal with it.

"Despite driving in front of a truck, I've never been suicidal. I'd been feeling low and had toyed with the idea of speaking to someone like the Samaritans but I didn't feel I could justify it; I didn't class myself as having a problem yet ironically I did. Once you verbalise it, you make it real and accept it's there and once you start talking to people about it, there's always someone who can help. Writing about it has also helped me."

Now, if Ira, who now lives in Kingswood, recognises those feelings of apathy he makes sure that, however difficult it is, he fights against it.

"I do go up and down but have now learnt to recognise that. Now I can accept that it's ok not to be ok but it's important to do things because you probably will enjoy them once you get yourself motivated to do them. For me running addresses that. If I have a bad day the last thing I want to do is go out and run 10 miles but I make sure I always do it.

"There's always light at the end of the tunnel but it's very hard to see that at the time."

Still Not Bionic was originally scheduled for release in spring 2017 but the book was completed ahead of schedule allowing publisher Richard Jones to release a limited run of books before Christmas. 

That initial run sold out within days and the book was immediately reprinted to fulfil demand. 

Tangent Books publisher Richard Jones said: “Originally we were going to publish an ebook-only version of Still Not Bionic, but as the book neared completion I realised the quality of the story deserved a wider audience. Ira has a relaxed and humorous writing style and a gift for storytelling, but the book is also an important contribution to the current debate about mental health and the role of exercise in tackling depression.” 

Signed copies of Still Not Bionic: Adventures In Unremarkable Ultrarunning are available from www.tangentbooks.co.uk at the price of £9.99.