Achieving a goal -My first 5km run and the effect of regular exercise on our mental health

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Whoo!  Just a short post to say, that finally, after many false starts, disappointments, an injury, and some stupidity, I have ran my first 5km race! Regular readers will know of the ups and downs of my running progress this year -if you would like to check back on these posts you can find them either at the top or side of this page – in the health & fitness category tab, under running.  I have to say when I woke up on Saturday morning and heard the gale force wind and rain, I wasn’t too enthusiastic about making my way to the park.  However once I left the house I was already soaked from the rain, so more rain didn’t really make much of a difference!  I was unsure if I would be able to run 5km without stopping.  I had managed to run 5.2km the week before, but as I run in the city, I have to wait at several traffic lights on the route, so that usually gives me little breaks to get my breath back.  I was expecting that I would have to slow down or stop once or twice on the day of the race, in the absence of traffic lights, and the addition of steep hills, but I kept the pace steady and managed to do it all without stopping. Goal accomplished! :-D  I did the race with my boyfriend and the fact that it was also his first 5km race and we trained for and accomplished it together made it even more exciting.  I was extra delighted and excited that he achieved his goal also, especially because he has asthma, which makes it even more of an achievement than mine.

As I mentioned in my last running post, due to my own past experiences with depression and anxiety it was very poignant to me that my first race and my first milestone (or 3.1 milestone!) running achievement was for Aware, an Irish charity that does fantastic work in raising awareness of depression and mood disorders and providing support for those affected by it, including family and friends.  Their aim is to “create a society where people who experience depression and related mood disorders, and their families, are understood and supported, are free from stigma and have access to a broad range of support options.”.

It’s so appropriate that my first race was for this cause as running and fitness does so much to help me keep these negative feelings at bay.  Not only does running increase my fitness and physical well being, but it makes me feel absolutely fantastic!  All those post-exercise endorphins are really something!  While medication to treat depression, mood disorders and anxiety is necessary for some, and I have used anti depression and anti anxiety medication myself in the past, I am a great advocate of trying out complimentary natural remedies. It is amazing what a healthy diet and regular exercise can do to dramatically improve one’s physical and mental health.  And if medication is a necessary support, diet and exercise can compliment this treatment massively.

Even though I no longer struggle at the moment with the same intensity of depression and anxiety that I did several years ago, we all have external and internal challenges, insecurities and vulnerabilities that can effect our delicate mental health from time to time.  It is not a rigid, static thing, and at times of your life your mental health will be more ‘well’ than other times.  Regular running and exercise is a fantastic way for me to keep in good, positive form and to set and conquer achievable goals, which in turn prospers positivity.

If jogging and running is a form of fitness that you are curious about but new to, why not give it a try?  It’s free!!  There are so many great programmes and tips for new runners out there and I would really encourage you to give it a go!  When I first started running this summer I had to stop jogging after 30 seconds as I felt so out of breath.  I was surprised to find what I had heard was true -that initial running progress for most is astonishingly quick and so motivating.  Now that I can run 5km, I will be aiming for 10k in the new year.  Something that once seemed impossible now feels completely attainable.  Why not give it a try and see what effects it will have on your own well being? :-)

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8 thoughts on “Achieving a goal -My first 5km run and the effect of regular exercise on our mental health

  1. Congratulations Rowena 🎉🎉 a great achievement 😊 I’m not a runner, I cycle, through the beautiful countryside on my doorstep as many days of the week as possible, and I love it! I feel like I wind back the years with every ride 😍 I absolutely agree with you about how exercise can feed our brains, not just our bodies x

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