Running has been the singular most important tool for improving my mental and physical health. As a chronic overthinker with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome; in short, a hormonal disorder) I’ve struggled with weight gain and negative thoughts since I was 15. I’ve tried the ‘keto diet’, which I hated, and other types of exercise didn’t seem to be working. It was only during lockdown 3.0 that I decided I’d had enough so, with the encouragement of my younger brother, I decided to take up Couch to 5k.
After just a couple of weeks of running, my mood improved dramatically. My lockdown-induced brain fog lifted, making it easier to focus in seminars, lectures etc. I was losing weight at a healthy rate, without having to severely restrict my diet. And, most importantly, I found it easier to feel positive about, what has been, such a strange year. That was why, after the euphoric feeling of finishing Lancaster’s 5k fun-run in May, I decided to sign myself up for the local half marathon.
If you’re looking for a low-cost activity that has huge mental and physical benefits and you’re physically able to, I’d highly recommend starting with the Couch to 5k app. It starts you off with mostly speed walking, so it’s not such a shock to the system. As well as the app, here are some general running tips – most of which I learned the hard way:
- Make sure your running shoes are supportive and that they don’t cause you pain. It’s often better to spend slightly more on brands such as Saucony or Brooks as it’ll save time and pain in the long run.
- It’s important to do other small exercises 2 or 3 times per week, such as core workouts, aerobics, or yoga. This will allow you to strengthen your core and reduce your risk of injuries. I’d recommend Yoga with Adrienne’s and Chloe Ting’s Youtube channels for these activities.
- Try not to worry too much about your speed and running times. Sometimes other runners can be inspiring but, comparing yourself too much can end up being demotivating.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself – if you skip a few days or more, it’s much easier to pick up where you left off instead of beating yourself up about it.