The Benefits of Running for Mental Health - Guest Post by RunTalkRun Manchester

There are many free running groups or clubs that take place locally around the country. Parkrun, Sweatshop Running Community and ASICS Running Club are some examples of this. Another one is Run Talk Run, which identifies as a running mental health support group. Emma K, who organises local runs for the group in Manchester, shares the importance of running and how it can help with your mental wellbeing.

"Run Talk Run Manchester started at the beginning of February, and it is a small group that goes out and does a short (5k maximum) run.

I absolutely love running, and the positive effects of it on mental health are well documented, including by medical professionals. However as a club runner I sometimes felt the pressure to run fast times, do hard sessions in dreadful weather or when exhausted and the anxiety that comes with comparing yourself to the people you see on the start line week after week was getting toxic.

Runtalkrun allows people to run in an environment that is about making friends, letting off steam and is completely divorced from pushing yourself to run to time. Several participants leave their watches and phones at home. We go at a pace that is easy for every runner there, no one runs on ahead and if someone wants to stop and walk the whole group stops and walks.
We are based in the very heart of Manchester and meet at the weekend to hopefully mean as many people as possible are able to take part.

I am aware I've made running sound like a negative experience, but overall I found it has made me very happy, and allows me to relax and get some downtime away from the stresses of modern life, often running with just myself and playlist of utterly dreadful pop-punk is something I really look forward to after a busy day at work.

Fitting it in is important to me, and in order to make this more realistic, and so I am not up and out at weird hours I factor it into my commute often running to work. I also try to schedule runs with friends so I can socialise and explore new and usually pretty drab bits of Manchester!

Adding exercise into your commute is such an easy way to add exercise into your life, even getting off a tube or bus stop early and walking if you aren't feeling brave enough to do the whole way on foot! I'd also highly recommend parkrun, which are free 5ks up and down the country, with the UK alone boasting 600 events and counting. These are welcome to everyone from Olympians to people who want a gentle stroll, and with a volunteer from parkrun back marking it is impossible to come last. If you don't yet feel ready to run, look into volunteering, they are fantastic community events, and often include cake.

However I feel it is important to not beat yourself up if you chose to not exercise, be it missing one run or not running for a year. If you are tired, sore or simply don't want to, it is fine to take care of yourself and you shouldn't ever feel guilty for choosing not to. The more experienced a runner I have got the more I have learnt the benefit of resting and not being afraid to change the plan. At the end of the day it is meant to be fun and isn't meant to be a chore is meant to be something you enjoy."

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