Couch to 5K
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Mental health benefits, anyone?

Okay, 8 runs under my belt and in wk 3. Just realised how much calmer, and happier I am feeling in my day to day life. I have been prone to mild depression in the past, and have a sometimes stressful job. These last couple of days I have noticed how little workday frustrations are actually getting to me, and the fact I am singing in the shower of a morning!

Studies do show how much of an impact exercise has on mental health, and I have read about it lots. However, I am now truly experiencing it. And it is wonderful. Worth running for this benefit alone.

Anyone else experience a change in their general mood since taking up running?

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Oh yes. My husband has commented on that more than any physical changes -- that I'm calmer, happier, and more "peppy" :-) I'm doing better at work, too.

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Peppy! Yes, that's a great word to describe it! 😀

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Love it! Peppy!

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Oh yes indeed. I'm currently on WK5 and loads of wonderful things have happened to me because of this running malarkey

1- I have more energy during the day as I do my runs early in the morning.

2-I have a lot more patience in my job ( I work as a teaching assistant to 7/8 year olds)

3-I get so much more uninterrupted sleep at night

4-I have a spring in step and a smile on my face most of the day.

I'm sure there are many more benefits but these are what I've found so far.

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This is wonderful to hear! Good for you! 😘

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Hi! Running is SO GOOD for your mental health. I'm similar to you and used to think endorphins were a load of hog wash!! That is until I started to feel brilliant after a run. Now I've been running for 4 years I can't conceive of never doing it. I pray I'll be able to do for many more years. Good on you for doing C25K. It will change your life for the better!

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I pray that I will be able to keep running too! With the support of this site (which is amazing), and by listening to my body and the advice given here, I have a great shot! Thanks danzargo!

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Nobody ever believes the trite soundbites used to promote exercise, such as " feel fitter, healthier and happier" but as we know it is absolutely true.

I don't believe that other forms of exercise give the same degree of feelgood benefits as running, so aren't we the lucky ones.

Four years after starting to run, the mental benefits still abound. I read the other day that parkrun is now part of the social prescribing network. Anyone who has experienced parkrun will know what a joyful, life affirming experience it is.

Keep running, keep smiling.

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The trouble with depression is, when you are in the midst of it, it can be hard to believe that anything can help. I just feel thankful that I took that first step - that first run - and had it in me to keep trying. And when I am ready physically, I am defo trying the parkrun! Thank you IannodaTruffe, smiles abound!

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Depression has not been a serious problem for me, but my first summer running became one of the happiest that I can remember and as I say, the feeling persists and takes the edge off the crap that life throws at us.

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Well, I would say my depression was mild - a case of the persistent unexplained blues I suppose - but I was resistant to medication, and felt running worth a try first. And running seems to have been a game changer for me! I love your recollection of your first summer running being one of the happiest you can remember. That's just lovely.

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I'm going to go a step further - the running is fab but also ... this forum is a running forum, it's literally full of people telling each other how well they are doing, how they can overcome obstacles whether physical or just a case of the running gremlins, and loads of congratulatory posts - it's honestly brilliant. There's nothing like just one person telling you "well done! You're doing great!" to just lift your mood. It's better than anything I've tried as an antidepressant force!

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It IS honestly brilliant, you are so right. I am feeling dead positive right now, and being able to share this here is a joy. Equally, I know that if I have a question, a bad run, or a case of the wobbles, the good people here will support me through it. <warm fuzzy feeling alert>

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<warm fuzzy feeling alert> indeed! I came back from a run after a few days being very down, posted about it here and the first comment <checks history> was from SmacktionHero48 and was just totally uplifting, I'm not sure I said thank you at the time as I was so surprised both at the comment and at just how lovely it made me feel! So thank you and to everyone who's ever posted :D

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Hello there - well done to you and brilliant to hear you are feeling some mental health benefits. This was my main reason for starting the plan to be honest, although obvious added extras with being more healthy and weight loss would be a bonus but not my target. I suffer with depression/anxiety and my job can be stressful too. I tend to get uptight and suffer panic and struggle to reach and maintain calm or relax. Since starting C25K I do actually feel calmer, it's only really reading your post that I've realised to what extent! It is true what they say about exercise. I started week 4 today, hopefully I can keep this going. Mental health benefits like you say make it worth it alone!

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Thank you Sadeskin, and hello! Sorry to hear you have suffered anxiety/depression too. Sucks. Especially when in your heart you know you are a happy person. But! Super glad to hear the running is helping you! I started in part to elevate my mood, but mostly to improve heart/lung health. Heading towards 50, I felt I had to stop taking my health for granted. The difference in my mood has been the best added bonus ever!

WE can keep this going, we truly can. Congrats on your achievements so far! You are a wee bit ahead of me - I am nipping at your heels! Lead the way, dear! 🏃‍♀️

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Thank you for your support. Yes I feel I am a happy person at heart, you summed that up perfectly!! Also, I am 'Sadie' too! Keep up the great work x

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Ah, I did wonder if you were a Sadie too. I love meeting other Sadies. 😀 It's fairly rare! You keep up the great work too!

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It is indeed rare! Happy running xx

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I feel, a great, great many of us... when I run...I feel amazing.. when I was on the IC.. the grumplies really tried to take hold.. as soon as I was out there again.. with my first walk/run to recovery..those happy hormones kicked in!

As IannodaTruffe says... aren't we the lucky ones:)

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Lovely! And yes, I do feel very lucky, Floss, I really do - and thankful. That is an amazing feeling, right? 😘

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I find it changes mood but it is relatively short term at least for me it is. The downside is on those occasions when you can't run . But you can plan other things to do in advance, in cases where you can't run do to injury , commitments etc.

I worried that I would not continue running after finishing the couch25k plan but the park run can keep you interested, not all of us want to go on to do 10k and half marathons etc but park run I think will keep me going through winter.

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Earlier this year decided that my bad patch was going on too long and decided to seek therapy. The first thing my therapist recommended was C25K - that's what finally got me off the sofa. Exercise is such an amazing anti-depressant and de-stressor. It's not like our problems disappear but somehow they are more manageable. This programme and forum is so brilliant - I hope you continue to get as much out of it as I do!

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Thank you "likelyrunner" 😀 And that's a great story. Life can be overwhelming, and running is our time to process and to do something good for ourselves. Glad it is also working out for you. 😘

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Ha ha - thank you for the name change! It still seems unlikely to me, even though it's true!

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aah! I wish I'd been encouraged to do C25K sooner ... but then now is definitely a great time to have done it. I told my therapist about it :) she was thrilled that I'd found something that cleared my mind and upped my mood!

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Massively. I manage stress and anxiety through running! When I was unable to run during the summer due to injury, there was a noticeable increase in my anxiety which all my family noticed. Luckily I am back out there now and feeling all the better for it. ☺

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I have to admit I am normally very laid back and always try to see the positives in everything. I have the ability although I don't know how to just bash on and not let things get to me but events over the last couple of years have pushed me in ways I never thought possible. Without running recently god knows what state I would be in now. It really is like life's shot in the arm. It's so great sharing all this with everyone on here, even my nearest and dearest don't really know. Keep running and feeling better everyone:)!!!

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That's why I love jogging, people say my job can get stressful, I've never noticed really because I'm pretty laid back about life but when I jump on the treadmill it's like stepping into a different world to be honest.

Like Kinchoc08, I run in the morning and for the rest of the day, I'm bouncing and full of energy.

Health wise, even 6 weeks in and there has already been a massive change.

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Yes, it feels miraculous to feel the improvements so quickly! I am only just at the end of week 3 and already noticing a real lift in my general mood. I love running in the morning!

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Yes! I work 12 hour shifts at a hospice and often would be reaching for a glass of vino to help me switch off quickly and enjoy what's left of the evening. I find a run has the same effect in refocusing my brain. Sleeping better too. Glad it's working for you!!X

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Hospice work must be so stressful, and 12 hours is a long working shift - so glad that the running is helping you! 😘

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Hiya! YES! I was amazed by how much calmer I felt in everyday life too. It probably took until about the end of week 3 before I really noticed, but it has definitely helped me. I have lived with on/off anxiety and depression for the last 2O years, and honestly when I started running regularly it was like I had been given some fancy new medication that just seemed to calm my frazzled edges. Long may it continue! 😊

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Yay! And that fancy new medication is endorphins, right? All completely natural, too. Kicked in with week 3 for me too. 😀

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Indeed! I thought endorphins from excercise were just a myth or something super fit people made up, just to make excercise sound exciting. Little did I know they were totally real! When that feeling of calm and mild and euphoria kicks in after a good run it's absolutely amazing! 😊

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Ha ha! 😂

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So good to read how running has helped with your depression.

I was at a very stressful time in my life when I was doing c25k as my mum has Parkinson's and wasn't coping and lived 50 miles away. I'd be spending ages on the phone to carers, various bits of the NHS etc. Sometimes I felt I really NEEDED to go for the run to clear my head. It invariably did and the endorphins produce a post run calmness and euphoria that lasts for several hours.

We have managed to get my mum into a care home local to us now so that's taken the pressure off. But now in midst of selling the house, so doubtless more run-therapy will be needed.

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Hi Iain. Life is never a straight and worry free path, sadly. I can only imagine the worry with your mum - thank heavens you had running to help you through. Glad to hear she is settled close by you now. And yes, I am sure that a continued prescription of run-therapy will see you through your next challenge! 😘

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Definitely helpful, yes, and for those of us who are able to run outside, especially in parks or the countryside, we also have the healing benefit of being out in nature. Never underestimate that. Due to a stressful imminent house move and the fact that I'm working my notice at my job (trying to get everything ship-shape before I leave) I havent done anywhere near as much running as usual and it has definitely had a negative impact on my stress levels and sleep patterns. I ran last night for the first time in about 2 weeks - I was truly awful, but I felt SO MUCH better for it mentally (even though my joints are killing me this morning!).

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Amen to that. I work in central London all week, but luckily live in the Garden of England. My morning runs in the park surrounded by the majesty of trees and the screeching of parrots make me feel so alive - and distracts me from my complaining legs! Good luck with your house move and finishing up at work! And well done on getting out for that run! Life gets in the way sometimes, but running is so important to you, right?

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It has definitely become a big part of my life, yes. And whilst I am not a natural "athlete" and I don't always want to do it, when I don't do it, I notice the difference in myself (in a bad way).

Oh, and I do enjoy just casually dropping into conversations that I went for a run last night/morning/weekend, etc. Makes me feel smug 😋

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Hi Sadie my daughter suffered greatly with anxiety and no therapy really helped just gave her the tools to manage it .She was at the start of her A levels and it continues still ,she's 22 now but a totally different person .She found exercise a great help mainly running and cycling but also yoga. She now runs 10ks regularly and has joined a local running club which is the best thing she's done. She has found a new group of friends and is an active member on the social committee . In fact she nearly had to move away this year for a new job and the thing she would miss the most was her running group as it had such a massive impact on her life.

I'm so glad for you and your friends & family that you ve found running , it's the start of a whole new world :)

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Hi Bunyolaswife. This is a wonderful inspiring story, and am so happy to hear the positive impact running has had on your daughter's life. ❤️ I cannot believe how making one small change (adding running to my routine) has had such a big impact, both on my physical health, my self esteem and my mental well-being. May your daughter go from strength to strength! x

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Thank you Sadie I hope you continue to feel all the positives also . I'm going this couch to 5k to give her a surprise week 9 ....hopefully !!!!

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I definitely agree. I have been amazed at how much calmer and happier I feel when running. I am glad you have found this and that it is helping manage your depression. Even when "mild", depression is miserable and debilitating, so keeping it at bay can surely only be a good thing.

On the flip side, this week I have been snowed under with work, half "jet-lagged" because of weird working times lately, and trapped at home in the early morning now that the kids are back home, and so I haven't been able to get out and run. I have been really grumpy and impatient as a result and am missing it horribly. I have tried to compensate and make the most of these enforced rest days with other forms of exercise I can do at home, which has been good but definitely doesn't give me the same boost. And, trite though it may sound, I feel free when I run. Squatting and swinging kettlebells around my living room is great but it certainly doesn't give me a sense of freedom!

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Oh Helene, thanks for replying! Hope that you manage to get out for a run soon. I am at that over enthusiastic stage where I get the urge to run on my rest day! (I won't though, I totally understand the need to let muscles repair and recover). I think I am addicted to the runner's high! x

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I couldn't agree more. I am currently going through a difficult patch and have discovered that I've been suffering from depression for years, which has also contributed I think to the breakup of my marriage, which I feel really rubbish about.

It's taken me the best part of a year to get to the point where I can get up of the couch, so to speak, thinking that I could even run for 1 minute was pure fantasy at that point, and, well why would I want to?

But - anti-depressants I think have helped me at least get a bit of motivation back to change my situation, not that I believe they are the answer to everything. And this running thing? Even in the two weeks I've been doing this, I don't feel as tired, my mood has been better, you know, I definitely feel better for it, and I think I'm calmer, more balanced.

All positive stuff I feel! :)

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Hi Neil. Sometimes it takes us years to realise that the root of our sadness is depression. Sorry to hear things have been rough for you - but so pleased that medication has kick-started you into running! I cannot stress enough how important it is to trust this programme and also to be kind and patient with yourself. The rewards are astounding. For me, the physical benefits are secondary. The emotional/mental health benefits alone feel miraculous! Keep it up - it just gets better and better! All the best to you.

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Without any doubt exercise and I think running especially is great for mental health/feel good factor !

In my 9th week of the programme I sustained an injury and could just about walk never mind run . I definitely felt very low as I missed the exercise and thought I would never finish it or even run again ( I know I'm a bit dramatic 🙈)

My mojo was going 🙁

Anyway I learned to have patience let the healing process do its thing and I'm now finished and back on the road again and feeling good 😁

I've always exercised however I cannot recall any exercise having the impact on me that running has had !

The moral of the story,keep running 🏃‍♀️🏃🏼

😘

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I fear getting injured for this reason, Sarah, so taking it really carefully right now. Glad to hear you are back on the road again!

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Thank you ... take care and as OF says ... slow and steady 👍

X

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Hello. Running has been a really powerful 'pick-me-up' for me too. As many of you know I am in the middle of a few health issues at the moment. In addition, my son has had to give up his apprenticeship through bullying and my very special but anxious daughter is having a second attempt at university on Saturday. In the past, I would have jumped head-first into the biscuit tin and devoured them all. My running has given me so much mental positivity that I no longer need to comfort eat. I am slimmer, fitter and healthier than I have ever been and I feel that I can meet every challenge full-on. I have always found the first stages of my run hard and a bit daunting because they are uphill. However, Old Floss' recent post on the sheer enjoyment of running has given me an extra nudge to rise to the challenge of the hills. Thank you to everyone on this forum.

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Wonderful! Running changes so many things for us, doesn't it? x

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It certainly helps me to chill out, I recall one particular morning where I had something bugging the life out of me when I got up and also during the warm up stage.

Amazed to say that when that run had finished I had completely forgotten about it and it was really unimportant to me, which in reality it was.

Also read an article a few years back which said studies had shown that exercise stimulates the same parts of the brain as Cannabis, which explains the way in which I feel totally chilled after a run 😎

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Chilled! Yeah, that's how I feel on the whole now. :-)

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Wow! This post has garnered so many responses! Thank you all for replying and sharing your thoughts and experiences of this, it has been so interesting (and heartening) to read.

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really amazing to see so many of us being honest about anxiety and depression along with stress etc.

It's always felt to me a really difficult subject to discuss, thanks to all of you being so open about it.

Peace of mind is not something that is always available and anything that positively influences that is a great thing.

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I 've suffered from depression for a long time and have just completed my 3rd week and already I feel happier and energised than I have in years so yes it is such a boost to the mood ☺

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Very glad to hear that! I have just completed my 3rd week too. Yay us! 😘

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