Running through my mind, one step at a time
If you told me this time last year that 2016 would be the year I'd start training for a marathon I'd laugh and then go back to crying under my duvet, refusing to leave the house. But here I am, putting one foot in front of the other, ready to be a part of the Heads Together campaign.
I hated PE in school. Well, ‘hate’ is a strong word, but I definitely hid behind trees during cross-country and just so happened to be on my period for every swimming lesson. So when my GP suggested exercise to support my mental health, I laughed through the tears of anxiety.
Fast-forward a few months, and I was running three times a week. The medication I was initially put on gave me a kick up the bum and I suddenly had this burst of ‘I’M GONNA DO IT. I’M GONNA GO RUNNING. I’M GONNA BE A RUNNER WITH REAL TRAINERS AND UGLY SPORTS BRAS’.
And do you know what? It worked. Running has been a huge catalyst in me getting better and this is why:
- It gave me a focus-Running requires a lot of focus. It makes you aware of your body, from breathing to muscles to thoughts. Having a focus also couples as a distraction. It keeps you busy
- It released dormant endorphins- Endorphins were a myth for me pre-running. But I soon found out about the rush of pride and positivity you get after a run. Now, if I’m stressed, I go for a run. If I’m anxious, I go for a run. If I’m angry, I go for a run. It replaces those negative feelings with positive ones
- It gave me goals- I’m an overachiever. I wanted to be a fit, impressive runner from the get go. But I learnt very quickly that I had to pace myself and allow my body to get used to, well, By only running for one minute, three minutes, 10 minutes at a time, I was achieving little goals each day, giving me constant motivation
- It gave me control- Anxiety controls your thoughts. It can completely take over. I realised that running was a battle with my mind more than my body, and it was a challenge to fight the thoughts of: ‘This is pointless, it won’t help’, ‘I’m tired already, I can’t do this’, and ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, I CAN’T BREATHE!!!’ As soon as one of those thoughts started to manifest, I shut it down and replaced it with encouragement. My body CAN do this
- It gave me a connection between my mind and body- Fighting your mental health can not only disconnect you from those around you, but it can disconnect you from yourself. With your mind running amok (pardon the pun), it puts your body last. Running strengthens the connection between the two again. It puts you back in control of your thoughts and your body. It’s embarrassing how many times I have whispered to my legs, ‘Come on, you’ve got this’
I’m incredibly proud to be running for The Mix in support of the Heads Together campaign. It’ll be my biggest challenge yet, but I’ve come so far already that I’m sure another 26.2 miles will be nothing.
Published on 10-May-2016
What it’s like to be young and black in the mental health system
A group of black people tell us about their experiences ...
It's a debilitating condition, but what causes it?
BPD doesn’t make me evil
Amy, 25, tells us about living with Borderline ...
Is it ok to have a mental health relapse?
Does relapsing mean you've failed? No. It's totally normal.
I still struggle to be intimate after rape
Gemma* bravely opens up about her struggles to be ...