Running for your Mental Health

09 Sep 2020

DofE Ambassador Lucy shares her experience of Virtual DofE Adventure and explains how she finds running benefits her.

Follow me and run like your life depends on it – because it does” – The Maze Runner, 2009.

Most people have a courageous and inspirational reason for getting into running. Me? I like The Maze Runner.

The book captured my imagination. It enthralled me for days, to the point that I was daydreaming about what would happen if I woke up trapped in a giant maze and my only way out was to run.

So I started running.

Literature has always captivated and helped me. Books let me escape the real world and pretend to be somebody else for a while. However, there comes a point where we can’t just avoid our problems by pretending we’re the protagonist in a dystopian novel – we have to face them head on.

Virtual DofE Adventure has brought me back to my roots. It has reminded me how invincible running can make me feel. I find myself getting faster each week and feeling stronger, both physically and mentally. Running has a hugely positive impact on mental wellbeing and this adventure has reminded me of that.


Time to think is something we often feel we don’t have. We get easily swept away with the rush of the world and days roll into each other.

Getting an hour to run free wherever I choose does wonders for my headspace. I can sing all the songs I’ve been dying to blurt out, mentally plan essays and decode all the frustrations of my day until I forget them completely. Time alone is not to be undervalued.

Emotional outlet

Emotions are tricky creatures. They overwhelm us. Running is a fantastic outlet for emotions that make us feel less like ourselves. The feeling of your heart against your chest as your feet pound the concrete is a safe and effective way to channel feelings of anger.

On days where we don’t want to get out of bed, pushing ourselves to get up, dressed and moving can kickstart the day and alleviate negative feelings.

Conversation, community and challenges.

There is a massive cohort of runners out there. Beginners, professionals, social runners and fun runners.

It doesn’t matter how far you can jog or how fast you run. It doesn’t matter when you started or how often you go out. Running will lead you to like-minded people, people who can give you advice or keep you company on your runs. There are hundreds of running challenges you can take on to push yourself and to feel good about your progress.

Finding enjoyment in something as seemingly simple as running can change your perspective as well as your health. I run because I feel in control. I feel strong. I feel like I can take on anything. I feel like I can escape the maze once and for all.

Hear about Lucy’s journey through the DofE

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