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It makes it easier to push through the pain; says Warrior Games competitor

Getting active has helped Narelle deal with ongoing physical and mental pain.

8 months ago, Narelle Mason made the decision to get active and improve her health. She never expected that in such a short time she would have improved her fitness, won several medals at the Warrior Games, and become a ‘fun mum’ for her kids.

Warrior Games – “Everybody inspired everybody”

During the Warrior Games, Narelle was inspired by the determination of the competitors from around the world, but also by their humbling support of each other.

During the 400m sprint, Narelle was up against only one other competitor, from the US Air Force.  The US competitor had a significantly quicker time in training than Narelle. In an act of support and encouragement, the US competitor offered to run alongside Narelle for the first 250m of the event, meaning she didn’t have to run on her own. “She was quite incredible” says Narelle.

“I really realised it’s not about your times and winning, this support is what it’s all about”.

Reflecting on the Games, Narelle had a lot of highlights, but one that really stood out was a silver medal in the 4×100 relay.

“It was fun to celebrate that win with other people. Most of my other events were individual so to win that and be able to celebrate that with other people was really special for the four of us.”

Conquering the doubts

Anxious and tearing up while on the starting block for the 50m freestyle, Narelle was able to push through and swam a personal best. Sport and being involved in a team has really helped Narelle cope with anxiety.

“Is it still there? Probably, but I feel I can manage it a bit better now” says Narelle.

The support and camaraderie that comes with being in a team has helped her feel confident outside her comfort zone.

“As a team you talk through it – it’s a mixture of a lot of self-talk and talk with teammates.”

Support from afar

With Narelle all the way in Tampa Bay, it would have been easy for her to feel disconnected from her family and friends back home, but they didn’t let the distance stop her from knowing they were cheering her on.

“My husband stayed up all night and watched all the events, and then I had some other friends who were watching it and would be taking photos of their TV, so it was really cool to know they were all supporting us and as excited as we were.

“My dad said something to me on my first day back and he said how proud he was of me and ‘it’s not because you’ve won medals, it’s because you did something so far out of your comfort zone’“.

Narelle’s young son Josh even took photos of his mum to school for a talk topic. He showed photos of his mum with her medals and spoke about how proud he was.

Given the support Narelle’s family has shown, it’s no surprise that Narelle and her husband are now planning a family outing every weekend where they’ll go for walks or play ball, getting the kids to see how important health and fitness is. This journey has been lifechanging for the entire family.

Looking ahead

Having started on the Invictus Pathway Program with The Road Home in South Australia, Narelle is hopeful of the Invictus Games on the horizon and she is laser focused on getting there.

“I met with a trainer and revisited my goals; they’re looking through my videos and we’re working on improving my times and strength training.”

“I have all these people around me for support; only better things can come.”

With the backing of her coaches, family and friends, Narelle is keen to keep active and keep progressing. As an added incentive, maintaining her physical activity is also helping Narelle manage her ongoing back and knee pain.

“I can tolerate it – it’s easier to tolerate when you’re seeing improvement and having fun and have a purpose – it makes it easier to push through it and I want to push through it now.”

Give it a crack

When quizzed about advice on physical activity for other veterans, Narelle is adamant, “people don’t understand the importance of it until they start doing it, people need to give it a crack. Commit to it for a period of time and see how far you’ve come and how much better you feel – then people keep going.”

If you or a veteran you know want to give it a crack like Narelle, reach out to Veteran Sport Australia – or shoot us a message on Facebook @VeteranSportAustralia

To learn more about how Narelle became a ‘fun mum’, read her pre-Warrior Games story HERE.

Narelle, second from left.
Narelle, second from left.