Julia's Story: Running to Manage your Mood

"If someone had said to me that I would be running a marathon in 2013 I would have laughed politely and told them they were mixing me up with a fitness junkie with too much time on their hands - however, this is exactly the position I now find myself in."

"I originally started running (and I use the term in its loosest sense) three years ago when I was told by my doctor that my blood pressure was too high and that I was too fat! I work in a primary school, so under cover of darkness, I would attempt to run around the playground hoping no one would see the sorry sight or hear my rasping breath.

Gradually, the blood pressure came down and the weight came off and I discovered I could comfortably trot along and even out-run some of the eleven year olds in my care.

In the summer of 2011 I almost lost the sight in one eye and started a longish period of recuperation. I knew what I had to do physically to get better but what I hadn't expected was the effect my illness would have on my mood and outlook on life. I am generally an optimistic and gregarious person and it seemed as if overnight I had changed into someone different.

Making myself run was a way of holding on to the person I was prior to my illness; challenging myself to run more often and further gave me pleasure and a real sense of achievement. It was my principal coping mechanism for the emotional upheaval I was undoubtedly feeling during this period of my life. 

Perhaps the greatest benefit of all was realising how many people – friends and family – supported me in my journey. They quietly acknowledged their belief in me – both as a runner (aka plodder) and also as a person they loved. Most importantly – they didn't run away when I came chasing them for my marathon sponsorship money!

Find out more about:

Mental Health Awareness Week 2013: Let's Get Physical

Mental health and exercise

Running to raise money for the Mental Health Foundation

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