Stacey is Running For The Soul
I began my running journey 2 years ago by using the fantastic Couch to 5k. I started running as a way of managing my anxiety. I remember going out for my first run and being completely out of breath and a hot sweaty mess. I thought there was no way I would get to 5k, but I carried on because I found that whenever I got back in I felt I had really achieved something.
Completing the programme was one of my greatest achievements and I knew this was something I wanted to continue. Over the following 18 months I would go out 2-3 times a week and run 5k. I was a bit of a fair weather runner though and didn’t run much in the winter. After completing the programme I signed up to do a local 5k race and came in with a sub 30 time. I did it again the following year and managed to knock 4 seconds of the previous year!
Fast forward to March this year and the beginning of lockdown I found my anxiety was really heightened. The pressures of working form home and home schooling my son who has special educational needs was affecting all aspects of my life, my mood, sleep and appetite. My medication was increased and I had a course of counselling which helped. But I felt that I wanted to do something that I had control over so I decided to focus on running as I knew the positive effects it had on me. I booked into my local running shop to have a gait analysis and purchased my first pair of running shoes! This was a real game changer understanding my gait and why I was suffering from calf pain. I remember the first time I ran in them it felt like I was running on clouds.
I started going out every other day and running 5k. I loved seeing how many other people were out running, running past them and getting a reassuring smile or wave. I felt like I was part of this amazing community. I used to run with my phone and loved taking pictures of the beautiful scenery I passed and my favourite part was spotting the wonderful rainbows people had hung in their windows or on their door. It really boosted my mood seeing these and feeling that people were pulling together in this unprecedented time. I would take pictures of these and post them online along with the distance I had run. People were so supportive and encouraging. Every time I went for a run I was guaranteed to come home with a smile on my face and renewed energy to be able to focus on the day ahead.
SOME DAYS I WOULDN’T FEEL LIKE RUNNING BUT I HAVE LEARNT YOU NEVER REGRET GOING FOR A RUN BUT YOU DO REGRET IF YOU DON’T.
I can wake up in the morning with a knot in my stomach due to anxiety, I don’t always know why I feel anxious but I know if I put on my running shoes and get out that door that when I return home that feeling has gone. For the first time since being diagnosed with anxiety I felt that I had some control over it. Rather than sitting at home and letting my anxiety take over and prevent me from doing things running has enabled me to get on top of things and take my life back.
During lockdown have managed to increase my distance and have run my first 10k and recently inspired by the BAMR group ran 15k. My aim now is to run half a marathon before I turn 40 next year! And sign up for some 10k races. Now when I am driving in my car and I see someone out running I feel jealous that I am not running, but also feel a real affinity with them and wonder what their story is. I feel like shouting out the window ‘You go girl’ The running community is absolutely incredible. I love reading about the reasons people run and how they started. I also love encouraging people to get out and give it a go. I really think running is the best medicine. Not only has it improved my mental health but I have lost weight and am fitter than I have ever been.