I have signed for #MilesForMind next month because I want to support the work Mind does because I know first-hand how running has massively helped my own mental health.
I've struggled with mental health issues throughout my life from anxiety, stress and depression, on two occasions needing to take anti-depressants. It started in January 2019 I'd go to a point where I was busy and I couldn't fit in exercise. I consider myself a foodie and weight had piled on again. My partner and I decided to do a beginner’s running session ran by a local coach. He wanted to run but I said I wasn't a runner, but I thought that some exercise certainly wouldn't hurt and could only help me.
At the weekly sessions, I learnt how to use my arms, control my breathing and how to land my feet. I started to see that running wasn't that bad or as hard as I was making it. Afterwards I always felt a bit more positive for going. We kept to the session every week even when it was dark and cold. I found myself doing other exercise too.
In the spring, a lady at the session mentioned to me that she'd joined the local running club and how friendly they were. I'd been thinking about but I suppose I was nervous and my anxiety stopped me. What if I'm slow? What if I can't do it? What if I need to walk? Will I fit in? But after seeing what a difference a free session once a week could do, I thought what the heck!
I went to the first trial session, a 5K, which I hadn't run yet so I was straight in the deep end. Everyone was supportive and friendly. It was made up of people at different stages with their running but they had all started as beginners. I was buddied up with some other ladies to stick with me at my pace and show me the route. They gently encouraged me up to this lamp post, up to this car and we walked when I needed to but I did and finished. Running was giving me a boost. It was OK to be nervous and anxious but if I just tried, I could do it. I had to start somewhere and I would improve if I just kept going.
I joined the club and began going to the session each week and running on my own when I could. I found myself improving as I tried, getting a bit quicker, walking a bit less or going a bit further. Then I suppose it snowballed quickly into a genuine love for running. I love the happiness I feel when I’m out running and feel good factor afterwards. I'm now 4 stone lighter so physically healthier and fitter from the running and exercise I’ve been doing. I can't measure the change in my mental health by a number but I know I feel more positive and running has shown me how strong my mind and body are to new challenges and things that might seem impossible.
"It always seems impossible, until it’s done."