3 Running Clubs Championing Mental Health
May 13th 2019
Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 takes place 13-19 May in the UK, and this year's theme is on body image. One in four people in the UK will experience a mental health issue every year, and regular exercise, like running, has been found to provide both physical and mental health benefits.
Running with an organised group or club is another way to form connections and can provide even more benefits. It also transforms running into a supportive and social activity. Here, we highlight three unique running prorammes that are designed to not only get you moving, but also to boost your mood and fight the effects of depression through connection with others. Please read on for how to get started with each of these groups for Mental Health Awareness Week and every day.
#RunandTalk: Find Your Fellow Runners
Are you having trouble finding people to run with? Perhaps you live in a rural area or location that lacks established running clubs. Or maybe your work schedule requires that you run at odd or unpredictable times. Run and Talk might be your answer! The programme aims to help fellow runners connect in a safe and supportive manner.
Run and Talk is a campaign from Mind, RunTogether and England Athletics that encourages people to #RunAndTalk to improve their mental health during two key times of the year – Time to Talk Day (January/February) and World Mental Health Day (October). The campaign asks people to run one mile or more with friends or family, and have a chat at the same time.
In addition to helping runners find each other, the programme also curates a network of volunteers (referred to as Mental Health Champions and Ambassadors), publishes resources like the Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation and partners with charities on various campaigns related to recreation and mental health. Outside of the dedicated Run and Talk campaigns, you can always search for running partners through RunTogether. To date, RunTogether has nearly 100,000 active runners and more than 2,200 running groups!
To get started: Visit the Run and Talk website , read more about the programme or register an organised run of your own.
Run Talk Run: Weekly Runs and Online Support
Another unique running group option is Run Talk Run. It combines a healthy physical activity – running or jogging – with an online forum for runners to connect and talk about mental health. The group meets once a week for 5K runs.
The group is committed to support and openness toward one another, and follows a few simple but meaningful rules:
To get started: Search their site to see where the groups runs are, join the Run Talk Run Facebook group or follow it on Instagram for updates and photos.
GoodGym: Mental Health for You and Others
A third option is a Coach Run, a creative take on running and mental health from GoodGym. The basic idea is that you run to an older person’s house, hang out and run back. Coach Runs encourage you to run regularly to spend time with an older person, as they are typically isolated and lonely, which can lead to mental health issues.
The older participants are referred to as the “coaches” because they help motivate runners and they also share a lifetime of wisdom and experience. With Coach Runs, runners make social visits to isolated older people to listen, learn and spend quality time together. Coach Runs are flexible and don’t even need to take up more than 20 minutes of your time every week. To date, participants have logged over 19,000 Coach Runs!
To get started: Join GoodGym to get “coach verified”, which includes a basic reference check and training course to make the programme as safe as possible. It only takes a few hours and the payoff extends far beyond that.
Beyond the physical and mental health benefits of running, joining an organised club or group is a great way to connect with others for motivation, support and conversation. We hope this list helps you find the right group to get on a healthy path this Mental Health Awareness Week and every day. When you do find your fellow runners, we’d also love to help you celebrate your special relationship with inspired and matching running gear like a retro-cool sweatband, a fleece jacket or a water bottle. Here’s to your health, and see you out there!