Run your way to happiness

10 November 2015 by
First published: 18 November 2015

There’s no hiding it, sometimes life can be pretty stressful and that can really drag down your mood. Whether it’s the shorter days bring you down, work pressures or a massive to do list, sometimes you just need a little boost, and running can be the perfect answer.

’Running lifts your mood’, says life coach Liz Goodchild. ‘We’ve all heard of the feel-good ‘runner’s high’ hormones, and there’s science to prove it! Just 30 minutes of running, three to four times a week has been proven to boost mood, sleep quality, concentration and relieve anxiety’. The hormones Liz is talking about are called endorphins and they make you feel amazing. Your brain naturally produces these neurotransmitters in response to pain or extreme extortion to take the edge off, and the side effect is that they make you feel really good.

Running is also a great way to get that all important headspace, which can really help when things are overwhelming. Liz explains: ‘running provides time to yourself, to listen to music, your favourite podcast, an audio book or perhaps listen to the environment around you – the wind whistling and the leaves crunching under your feet. Just 45 minutes a day of ‘me’ time encourages feelings of happiness and relaxation, and reduces stress.’

Running coach George Anderson takes this idea further when he talks about the benefits of mindfulness when running. He explains: ‘when your thoughts dwell on past events or predict future catastrophes, worrisome stress levels are elevated. Focus your attention on the present moment however, and it’s possible to find a place of calm decompression.’

All great in theory, but sometimes it can be tough to put mindfulness in to practice. George suggest that running provides a great solution. ‘Getting out of your environment for a run can eliminate many of these distractions. Although it doesn’t prevent your mind from wondering up and down your personal timeline, it does provide a solid opportunity to absorb yourself in the rhythmical process of running. Giving your mind an hour off its role of ‘Chief Worrier’ gives it the opportunity to work out complex problems in the background and present the answer when you’re least expecting it.’ Having the opportunity to process your thoughts can really take a weight off your shoulders, and in turn boost your mood!

Whether you’re setting out on a journey from couch to 5K or about to tackle an ultra marathon, the sense of achievement that running gives you can be really powerful. Liz explains that: ‘running provides emotional and spiritual strength and helps people deepen their relationships with themselves. A 20-mile training run can kick up a multitude of physical challenges, yet the mental hurdles are often the worst to contend with, specifically the all-encompassing desire just to STOP. It’s a beautifully refreshing feeling to know that you’ve challenged yourself while out running.’ Taking on a challenging run can be an amazing reminder of what you’re capable of, as well as a great excuse to walk round with a massive grin on your face from the pride you’ll feel at you’re achievement!

So how can you get in on the act? Simply lacing up your trainers might be enough. Download that podcast you’ve been dying to listen to, or treat yourself to a new album and hit the pavements. As our experts explained, even a short run can help relieve stress. Feel like you need a little more support? Why not try joining a running club, however busy or overwhelmed you are, there’ll be no excuses when you know you’ll be seeing your friends for training. Plus we guarantee that a natter and some miles will lift your mood in no time. For some people, the shove out of the door is knowing they have a race to train for. There are some fab races coming up, so check out what’s happening in your local area and give yourself a goal!

However you choose to motivate yourself, next time you feel a little blue try putting on your trainer and busting out of it with a run. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.