Does running help anxiety?

When most people think about the benefits of running the first thing that comes to mind is to improve their fitness. That was a big factor for me but the other reason was to help improve my mental wellbeing.

When Covid hit the world and we were plunged into lockdowns here in Australia, we were only allowed out for an hour or so a day. To make the most of my time outside I picked up running again, something which I hadn’t really done for a while.

I’m quite lucky that I live near a couple of rivers and creeks with lots of green spaces. I would ensure that my runs took these in as much as possible and I soaked in as much of the outside world as I could.

As time went on and lockdowns came and went, I was getting back into running so much that I decided to push myself and see what I could really do. So I signed up for my first ever marathon. I would run 4 times a week not really following any plan but it needn’t have mattered anyway as, disappointingly because of Covid, the marathon was cancelled.

I took a bit of a hit at that point and let myself stop running for a while. During this time, I noticed something about myself — my anxiety and stress levels were starting to increase again. Without the release I had during running and endorphins I was getting from my regular runs, all of the worries of my life were just building up inside.

Luckily during a break in lockdowns I got to catch up with my friend, Robson. He too is a keen runner and we had been talking about my previous attempt at the marathon. We hatched a plan that we would both sign up for the Sydney marathon and follow a plan together to help us train. After a lot of searching around on the internet we got together a few different plans and built out a spreadsheet for 16 weeks of running to get us both to our target goal.

After 1 false start, thanks again Covid, we both ran the marathon together and accomplished our goal. During this time I learnt 3 things;

I want to make an important note here that by no means will running cure everything, I see a pyschologist on and off and if you are feeling a high level of stress or anxiety you should definitely seek help too.

I don’t know what I would do without running and if you want to give running a try or want to see the plans we have created and used you can see them here