THE RELUCTANT RUNNER: TV show was an inspiration

Athletes race away from the starting line at the Sewerby Parkrun at Sewerby Hall
Athletes race away from the starting line at the Sewerby Parkrun at Sewerby Hall

I’m not usually one who gets affected by real-life stories on television. I guess I am a fairly stony-hearted cynic which comes from years of being a journalist!

But the BBC’s Mind Over Marathon, which concluded last week, was different. It’s something I now had a vested interest in.

If you didn’t manage to catch it, the show took a group of 10 people with mental health problems. None were experienced runners, but they were given the monumental challenge of training for last month’s London Marathon.

When seven of them reached the finish line, having heard some of the stories they had shared, I’m sure there was something in my eye as I watched.

Since I started going to the gym regularly at the start of the year, the difference to my physical health has been obvious. But there have been other benefits too, I can’t remember having a cold all winter this year, which probably hasn’t happened before. I am sure its not really a coincidence.

I was interested in the link between exercise and mental health that was examined in the programme.

Even with my low levels of achievement at the gym, there is a feel-good factor when you manage something you haven’t been able to do before – run a bit further or a bit quicker.

Even just going and exercising can lift my mood when I have had a testing day, which happens more often than I’d like.

So will just running a 5km, which is not in the same league as what the team on the TV achieved, will feel like a major achievement to me. Something to be proud of, and that has got to be good for my mental health.

Buoyed by the achievements of the group in Mind Over Marathon, and wary that the weeks are counting down until my Parkrun attempt, I went on the treadmill at the weekend.

It was quiet, there was no-one watching...and it was just as well as I knocked my iPod to the ground, got all flustered and jumped off the machine very unelegantly after 1km.

I think it’s time to step outside and run for real.