Running offers positive outlet

Jessie Barr at the launch of the Irish Life Health ‘Runuary’ campaign in Dunmore East, Waterford. (Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile)

Amidst the isolation of lockdown, Ireland has fallen in love with running with close to three quarters of a million Irish people running regularly since the start of Covid-19 restrictions.

The mental well-being experienced by runners equalled the physical benefits, with 2 out of 3 stating that running not only made them feel fitter/stronger, but it has helped them to cope mentally and to clear their head, helping to relieve stress and leaving individuals feel more in control.

The research, undertaken by Irish Life Health, interestingly showed that 2 out of 3 runners prefer to run alone, as it provides much needed ‘head space’.

Since the start of Covid-19 restrictions 120,000 adults have taken up running for the first time and continue to run at least three times a week.

With level 5 restrictions now in place, runners are urged to adhere to the Covid-19 restrictions and run within the 5km radius of their home and to run with only one other person who also lives within that zone.

Olympian Jessie Barr’s top 5 tips

Set yourself a goal: Did you complete a couch to 5km during lockdown? Why not take on a 5-mile in 2021, it is only 3km more!

Acknowledge any potential challenges and make contingency plans: Working from home in a crazy busy household? Is there a best time to fit in your run? If you dread the cold and rain, have you got the right gear? Try a simple windcheater to keep you dry.

Find a “Green or Blue” running route: Research shows that exercising outdoors, especially in green or blue spaces, gives us an additional mental boost. Running in a park or forest, or by the water, within your 5km radius even once a-week, can feel like a real treat.

Get a running buddy: Not only will this keep you motivated and accountable, but it makes running fun and distracts you when you’re feeling uncomfortable. In current restrictions, you can exercise with one other person.

Remember the Runner’s High: Extrinsic motivations (time targets or race days) are good but remembering how great you felt afterwards – the sense of accomplishment and endorphin rush or ‘runner’s high’ you get – are intrinsic motivators which are even more powerful.