Running my way to better mental health

Anyone else love running? I’ll be honest, I’ve never been interested in running as a way of looking after myself. I lean more towards yoga. So recently I’ve decided to try out some new things to look after my mental (and physical) health. I did something I have NEVER done before. I decided to go for a run…

Who has inspired me to run?

Lots of my friends are keen runners. I’ve always respected their discipline and running strength. One of my amazing friends Laura is a serious runner. She’s very modest about it but she works damn hard at her running skills. For ages, I’ve said to her “one day I’ll join you for a run” but I kept putting it off.

My Sister-in-law started going to the gym and trying out classes years ago she never would have imagined doing. This reminded me that cardio is also important for your body. Again, her discipline reminded me that I can try out new things too. I’m telling you, this woman is serious inspiration. She’s a fighter when it comes to her own health.

Then there’s the Run Dem Crew set up by Charlie Dark. An old friend DBC runs with this group and I love their supportive vibe. After seeing them come back from one of their evening runs when I finished a yoga class with the lovely Sanchia Legister of Yogahood I also thought to myself “one day I’ll join those guys for a run, even if I’m at the back!”

Enough of “one day I’ll…”

Thanks to Laura, she sent me a reminder text asking when I was going to join her for a run. I couldn’t say no and I was getting tired of my own excuses. So we booked an 8am running date in our local park. I was excited about this all week. Lots of questions were flying around, the “crikey, I don’t usually do this kind of thing” anxiety crept in. Do I need to start training before I even do a run around the park? What to wear? What kit do I need to bring along? Will it rain? Are my trainers OK for running? Will I get a stitch? You get the idea…

I don’t mind getting up early on a Saturday morning as 8am-9am is my exercise hour. It’s MY time. I usually go to a yoga class and it’s very rare I miss my early class, even if I’ve had a rubbish night’s sleep. Bright and early, I packed the water bottle, waterproof anorak and protein bar. All ready to meet Laura for my first proper run.

What happened next?

As soon as I met Laura I realised I didn’t need any special running kit. I just needed me. Laura was my official running coach so I didn’t need any fancy running kit.

She talked me through what we were going to do – The Couch to 5k run. I loved it that she had a plan. I’d never heard of this before but the number 5 rang alarm bells. 5k? That feels like a lot for me!

Trying something new to help your mental health with someone you trust is an amazing thing. Laura had no idea of how she was helping me and what a positive influence he has been.

We did the 5k with a combination of short runs and short fast walks which also gave us some chat time and a chance for me to catch my breath. The time went quickly and next thing we knew we had to head back home and both get ready for a kids party.

Small running steps can make a big difference

So yes, it was my first proper run. For once, it wasn’t about running for the train. It was a run for me and my mental health.

I know running is also good for my heart. It also boosted my energy levels that day. It felt good doing something for me (and having some quality time with a good friend, even though I didn’t always have the breath to chat lots).

I haven’t got any big plans for my running but I love that I’ve found something that’s manageable for me. I know small running steps will make a big difference for me.

Why I want to keep running…

As my Dad suffered from heart disease and passed away at the start of 2018, I always tell my daughters how we need to look after our hearts and Grandad will be proud of us if we keep doing this.

I want my children to see how their parents enjoy looking after themselves through exercise as I didn’t really see much of this growing up. My husband Mr.H knows how exercise is important for his own mental and physical health and I’ve always respected how he makes this part of his everyday routine.

I now know understand why my friends love running. I get it. It gives you space, you’re outdoors and best of all it’s good for you. For me, it means I can also listen to my music. It also gives me a chance to think of all of the things I’m grateful for. It gives me a chance to be creative as I think about ideas or how to make them work.

It’s also about enjoying the now of running and taking in the scenery. Oh and one thing I love about running is that I do this at my own speed. No pressure to be a certain way or compare myself to others.

I know I can do this and have since been out for my first proper run before starting work. Again, something I have never done before. For me, I’ll keep running my way to better mental health.

Do you ever go for a run? If that’s a yes, what do you love about running? Would you love to start running? How do you prefer to look after your mental health?

Sunita is a trained Business, Career and Confidence Coach and CIPD qualified HR professional with over 20 years in her field. To find out more about her recommended coaching services click here or you can browse forthcoming online meet ups and masterclasses right here. Need some expert advice on your CV or LinkedIn profile? Check out the options here. 

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Sunita loves running the Lucky Things®️ Meet Ups and Masterclasses – Since 2016, they’re known for being inclusive spaces all about looking after our confidence, careers (whatever we do in our week!) and wellbeing. Sunita’s colourful career kicked off in fashion and media, working with brands like Liberty, The Body Shop, Nike, I-D magazine and Italian Vogue. Her coaching and professional development career now focuses on helping others to feel confident so they move forward with their aims, ideas, plans or businesses.

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