There are a number of reasons why people start running, anything from fitness, weight loss or like me for that little bit of headspace and feel good that exercise can give.
I started running just over 2 years ago, to begin with I was apprehensive, as a teenager I spent most of my PE lessons sitting on the side-lines or not attending, one year I think I managed 3 lessons (pretty impressive I know!). So 10 years later I did not expect to be in the process of running over 200 miles in various events and training for my first marathon…and for fun!That feeling of finishing run is like no other, those endorphins kick in and you almost feel invincible, I don’t believe there is such a thing as a bad run because surely you are lapping everyone every else who is sat on the couch.
Running can also give you that sense of community, I am part of a running club ‘The Lonely Goats’ which is an online based club, we meet up at events and have a group online where we can chat, the support and positivity is incredible between all the members and it’s encouraging to be a part of. There are park runs that run nationally that are free and are open to runners/walkers of all abilities, I have attended a couple locally and always enjoyed the experience.
The majority of my running is alone time, I love putting the headphones on and zoning out from the everyday worries and stresses that have been on my mind, it’s just about putting one foot in front of the other and enjoying that time out from the world. I do have quite an active mind and that can cause my downfalls so having that space to switch off is essential.
It’s about finish lines not finish times, I know some of runners can be competitive and time obsessed, and each to their own but for me it’s always about the achievement of finishing an event, crossing that finish line and getting the shiny medal. I can still remember that feeling of finishing my first ever 10km run in London (2017), I was niggling with a knee injury but still wanted to take part and it was pure happiness to cross that line and that will stay with me.
I have struggled through a couple of injuries over the last couple of years, the main one being a knee problem that left me out for months, already battling with mental health at this time it completely tipped me over to a dark period. I didn’t realise the positive impact that running or any form of exercise can have, being outside walking or running, going to the gym, yoga, swimming are all things that can reduce symptoms of mental health.
May last year (2019) I wanted to raise money for Samaritans, as they had played such a massive part in my recovery and been there at all hours of the night when I needed someone I felt that I could combine my running with helping this charity that saved my life. I started booking up some 10km events, locally and in London, I included ‘Miles for Mind’ and ‘Samarathon’ I got to 95 miles and began fundraising.
After a couple of months I booked up my first half marathon which was in Dublin, this felt exciting as I would get to visit Ireland and do my first half! I then booked up Portsmouth Coastal half, Brighton half and added in Berlin Half (April 2020) so the mileage was increasing, as it stands the mileage is now at 246 miles!! Samaritans offered me a place at the London Marathon 2020! It will be my first ever marathon and I am excited and a tad nervous!! Finishing my challenge at the marathon fills me with all kinds of emotions!
I am in the process of marathon training, it has it’s challenges, I was down for a few weeks with a hip injury which I found difficult, it still impacts my mental health when I am not able to run, it does bring me down so I do try keep busy when I am on the injury bench.
A lot of people are in the same boat as me and use running as therapy, it doesn’t matter if you run 1 mile or 26.2 miles if it gives you that sense of freedom, go for it! When runners come together at events if really gives you that sense of belonging, we all cheer for each other and the crowds carry you through to the finish line!
Mental health can’t be fixed, I feel it’s about managing the symptoms and that will be different for everyone, I get days where I feel low and don’t want to get out of bed or see anyone and that’s ok, it’s a hurdle I have to face. It’s learning to be kind to yourself and taking each day as it comes, and a day that is a run day is always going to be better!