It’s time you got it off your chest….
The biggest gift that running has given me is a whole new circle of friends, who, like me, love the social benefits of the sport just as much as the fitness ones. Running for the good of your mental health, therefore is the perfect combination of two wonderful things.
Being appointed one of Sport England’s volunteer Mental Health Ambassadors has given me the opportunity to write about how exercising outside has made me feel better inside; I’ve also talked about this new role with my club, Kent AC , fellow parkrunners and various clients and runners (including those at Greenwich Runners, Buggy Runners) I’ve had the pleasure to meet in the course of my work as a personal trainer and running coach.
I hope that I can inspire as many of you as possible to join me on Monday 10 October, which is World Mental Health Day, for a nice, easy social run, taking in the full gorgeousness of the leafy London borough of Lewisham.
The week from 8-14 October has been designated Run and Talk week by England Athletics and Mind, the mental health charity. Anyone who has ever been for a run with me will know I love both activities dearly. Hind legs and donkeys spring to mind.
Of course, there’s a serious side to all this. There are any number of people out there who struggle with anxiety and depression, and have learned that they feel so much better if they get out into the parks and jog around a bit. Many of these people learn to love running so much they start entering races and training for marathons. Other just prefer to run socially.
Yet for all the people who have read and absorbed the theory about this therapeutic aspect of running, there are many that feel that the whole pavement pounding thing is too daunting. And the running track? That’s just downright intimidating.
I’d really like to welcome people who are nervous about getting started as runners, to show them that it doesn’t have to be about racing and pacing and sprinting and negative splits (which aren’t as painful as they sound). Running can be about jogging along at the speed of chat, admiring the scenery, thrashing through a few issues, whether it’s Helen in the Archers or why your boss is a tosser.
Me? I’m qualified to talk about anything. Don’t get me started on particle physics.
The run I am organising will be the Lovely Lewisham Hills Dusk Run (working title). We will meet at Ladywell running track at 6pm on Monday 10 October and head over the curly bridge, on through Ladywell Fields and Blythe Hill Fields, then up One Tree Hill to be inspired by the view and stretch a little, then down again, through Honor Oak recreation ground past Brockley Cemetery to Hillyfields. It’s about 4 miles, or nearly 5 if you run back to the track at Ladywell with me.
Does that sound long? Don’t worry.
We will run at the speed of the chattiest, not at the speed of the speediest. No-one will be left behind.
And if anyone fancies a pint afterwards, I’ll be up for that, too.