Running and Mental Wellbeing
In these challenging times many of us are looking for ways to make sure we and our loved ones stay well physically and mentally, so why not try running? Shona Campbell, from Sevenoaks’ running group Shona’s Runners, tells us more.
Many studies show that physical activity can be beneficial for mental wellbeing: exercise can boost your mood, relieve stress and anxiety, and improve your sleep, and I’m sure we could all do with some of that right now.
Team games are out for the duration, but running can be done with the people you share a home with, or you can discover the peace and tranquillity of a solo run. I’ve always loved running in a group, but at the moment I’m going out on my own, running in quiet countryside and drinking in the lovely Kentish spring as I go. We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful place, so let’s make the most of it! Savour the moment, look around you, let go of your thoughts and just breathe and be.
If you’ve not run before but you’re tempted to start now, there are five points I’d recommend you keep in mind when you lace up your trainers:
- There is no particular pace you have to run at. Far better to start slow, let your body warm up gradually, ease yourself into you run. If you’re going so fast you couldn’t say a short sentence – slow down!
- You don’t have to run the whole way. Start with 10 minutes of brisk walking, then 10 minutes of gently running for a minute and walking for a minute (or running to a lamppost and walking to the next one), then finish with 10 minutes of brisk walking.
- Build up gradually. If you throw yourself into running flat out, you may well get injured, and you’re very likely to not enjoy yourself! Take a more ‘zen’ approach: start gently, increase gradually and only when you feel ready to, back off if you feel you’ve overdone it.
- Leave plenty of time between eating and running to avoid a stitch, and if you do get one, walk and breathe deeply until it passes – and run more slowly!
- Take a phone with you if you’re running on your own. If you run into problems, you need to be able to call for help.
Be careful to remember social distancing while you’re out there, and plan your routes first to help with that. Then take yourself out in the fresh air, look around you, be in the moment, and remember: you don’t have to go fast, you just have to go!