Couch To 5K... And Beyond : Running For Your Mental Health
Can running make you happy? Not the way I do it is my immediate reaction! However, we are all beginning to realise that looking after your mental state is an integral part of your health and wellbeing, and that exercise can help you achieve positive mental health. Have a read of our Mental Health Awareness Blog for some of the science behind that statement - releasing those endorphins is what we're after people!
Now, we should be clear in what we mean when we say 'Can Running Make You Happy'? It's a bit of a loaded statement after all. You can be mentally healthy but that doesn't mean you'll be happy all the time. Running won’t stop you from wanting to kick the cat from time to time or stropping out over someone eating the last biscuit! However, what it can help with is that general sense of being well. The sense of feeling good about ourselves, being able to cope with challenges, making the most of opportunities, having a sense of control and freedom over our lives and feeling connected to our community and surroundings. And let's be honest folks - these are all simple things that everyone deserves to enjoy.
So, from that point view, the answer to our question is yes - yes, running can make you happy!
We found this fantastic video that sums up perfectly how a simple run around the park can help you feel better:
Feeling inspired? Yep - us too!
Dave Thompson is the man who runs the Live Active Leisure Couch to 5k programme and his sessions are based on the NHS product “Couch to 5k” which motivates you into going from NO RUNNING, to completing a 5K run. And all with only three runs a week over 10 weeks. Dave has adapted this product and replaced one of the weekly runs with a class; he has a private facebook page for the group to encourage, motivate and help with any strains, pains and injuries. Such was the popularity of Dave's first block that he's now also holding a 5K and Beyond class for those who want to take it further.
Now, Dave is no ordinary instructor - Dave is actually the Technical Services Manager for LAL and is based at Head Office.
Here's what he told us:
"Our Couch to 5k still requires a lot of commitment from the participants, it is well structured and builds up to a point where 5k is well within the ability of the group. I've been amazed for the past 15 years (between JogScotland and Couch to 5K) at the very obvious and immediate positive effects running (or any activity) has on our mood. I see people arrive at 6pm with the weight of the world on their shoulders and over the course of an hour watch that change into a smile and general good humour.
I have been very lucky throughout my life in that I have always been able to exercise but I've had two occasions in the past 10 years where I have been diagnosed with clinical depression. I've been able to manage this with my Doctor I have managed to stay at work throughout and to keep going as a JogScotland leader. Colleagues have been very supportive and I am sure that no one at JogScotland classes knew anything about my condition.
I'm still shocked that I'm one of the 1 in 4 who will suffer from mental health issues in their life but I'm quite certain that if I'd not been able to run during these times I would have been in a much worse position and on a downward spiral."
We know that Dave has been a huge inspiration to many people in his classes (check out the pics we found on Facebook!) and has been personally mentioned in the recent article over on Small City>>>
COUCH TO 5K
What: A 10 week block for complete beginners that is available as part of your fitness membership for free. Non-members - £40. This is also useful as a drop-in session for experienced runners who may have had some time out and who are looking to get back into the groove of it all!
What: The Beyond 5K is a keep going session to help people stick with running once they have achieved a 5K. This is also set up as a 10 week block but is much easier to drop in and just to keep your hand in, get a bit of advice and a run with like-minded people at a pace that suits you.