My name is Andy Raju, and welcome to my contribution to Runr`s blog on mental health - Miles for Mind.
My reason for running
My experiences on running and how running can be used to combat mental health are that what I learnt over time is that no runner started off by being a runner, it takes time and dedication. My running journey began when I had signed up to the ballot for the 2014 Virgin London Marathon. A few months went by and to be honest not expecting a ballot entry, I received a magazine in the post saying that I had been given a place. I could not believe it, but I also realised that the hard work starts now and that I have something to work for. The actual run went well, it was tiring at times as running at that distance is not only physically challenging, but also mentally challenging and the atmosphere was amazing! While running this race, I had mixed emotions, I felt nervous, excited, eager to finish safely, but happy to take part.
My mental health story
Having completed the London Marathon successfully, this kick-started my love and respect for running. As a runner you have to expect both good days as well as off days as it takes time, but you must never give up! I had to be patient and try out different running routes until I found a few that I enjoyed. You will have some aches and pains but you must always respect the distance whether it is 5k or more. I therefore realised that all of these reasons are all of what can be applied for not only in running but in life. Another lesson learnt is that running can be a great reliever of stress and helps to keep your mind at rest, as well as keeping your body in shape. Running can have a very positive effect on mental health as I believe that it has a meditative quality to it, as well as being healthy and feeling better.
I have personally tried to use running in the form of a stress reliever, and have found that running can be used as a unique, and free type of therapy. On countless occasions whenever I have felt down, I have gone out for either a long or short run and have always returned feeling so much better. If you can make running fun and habit forming, this in turn can lift your mood, stay healthy and live longer. Friendships can also be formed, as the running community is one which is very supportive, friendly and fun, even if you are a beginner or an advanced level runner. After nearly 5 years of running, I decided after constant conversations with people who wanted to come running with me, to become a licensed running leader of my group which I started last year in May called Run with Andy®.
I found the love for running and have since tried to help others find that too and share my experiences with them and hopefully they will share their experiences too.
Therefore, I feel that running can improve mental health especially when feeling anxious or depressed. So please try and lace up and use running as your local counsellor, because it really does work!
Thank you for reading my blog, and have a wonderful day.
Happy running! J
UKA Run Leader
Run with Andy ®