Running and Mental Health

In line with Mental Health Awareness Week, I wanted to touch upon my personal experience with regards to how running has helped me.

9 years ago, an incident took place which I have struggled with on and off over the years. I’m not going to elaborate on this incident because that’s not the purpose of this post – and I don’t mean that in an ‘oooooh I’m such a mysterious and complex individual!!’ way. I simply want to highlight that I have tried and tested various coping mechanisms, and running has had by FAR the most impact.

I reached out for advice back in 2009 and exercise/running did not crop up once – it was not suggested as a form of therapy, therefore at this stage I didn’t even consider the positive impact that running might have on my mental health.

It seems like this is no longer the case; the UK official guidelines now prescribe exercise as one of the first-line treatments for a variety of mental health issues, which I think is great.

Why does running help? This is something that I have done a lot of research on, and it has become apparent that this is about so much more than endorphins. I am (obviously!) not a medical professional and am also in no way qualified to spout out potentially inaccurate second hand medical research, therefore I won’t attempt to! However, I do want to highlight that I have reaped both the physiological and psychological benefits of running – both of which are AMAZING.

Goal setting is often listed as one of the psychological benefits of running and setting new running/fitness goals is now something that really motivates me. A couple of upcoming races that I am particularly looking forward to are the Great North Run in September and taking part in my first ultra-marathon early next year (although the thought of an ultra does kind of make me feel physically sick – any advice would be much appreciated!)

I’m not claiming that running is a ‘miracle cure’, and there are certainly other factors that have played a significant role. These include some big changes I implemented with regards to nutrition and alcohol consumption (although I still greatly enjoy drinking all the wine and all the gin and all the cocktails when necessary). However, from personal experience, running is the best therapy I’ve ever had; it goes beyond the ‘runners high’ and initial buzz of endorphins and delves into something much deeper.

I would love to hear about your experiences with running and mental health – has running/fitness helped you?

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  1. I think that when you go for a run (especially an off road one), you’re concentrated on something really basic (e.g where to put your feet) that most of your brain gets a rest from thinking about the stresses and strains of life.

    Liked by 1 person

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