Updated: Apr 19, 2022
This is a guest post courtesy of Lindsay, who describes how she came to join London City Runner’s Couch to 5K programme. Stay tuned for an upcoming post about all the benefits Lindsay has found from sticking to the programme.
LCR Couch to 5K graduation – June 2018
This is my story about how joining a running club brought me back from the brink.
Me: I think I am depressed!
Mood: Low. Not only is my mood low, but I have taken to listening to Adele’s entire back catalogue to make myself feel even lower. So I can really indulge in it.
Anger levels: Skyscraper high with accompanying short fuse. I have plotted the demise of the every person on the tube who breaths too loudly.
Weight gain: Extreme. I am getting fat just watching Bake Off. That is a lie, I am getting fat because chocolate equates to 76 per cent of my diet.
Relationship with: Mum/friends/colleagues/train crush*: Non-existent as have chosen to stay in and complete Netflix
*relationship with train crush is non-existent but for different reasons
Energy levels: At my lowest moment, I opened the window next to the sofa I was sat on so my takeaway delivery man could hand me my take away without me having to get up.
I decide to book an appointment with my GP after someone offers me their seat on the tube and I break down into uncontrollable tears. This cannot go on.
I start by explaining that in 2017 I snapped my Achilles tendon twice and spent eight months on crutches resulting in the ‘Big Sit Down’ of 2017. With only one working leg I became too scared to go out and due to the length of my recovery time, my friends (rightly so) got on with their lives without me. It started the spiral, where I stopped going out/seeing people/looking after myself. But this cannot possibly be linked to how I am feeling now, right?
The GP kindly informs me that she thinks I might be suffering from loneliness. It started with a lengthy stay at home where I only had one working leg and I didn’t go anywhere, and it continued to manifest itself after my leg got better. My GP goes on to explain that loneliness actually has a huge negative effect on your mental health, and therefore also your physical health and probably explains why I have been feeling depressed. I am not alone she informs me, there are nine million lonely people in the UK.
The GP recommends searching voluntary sector or community services to find an activity I enjoy, where I could meet likeminded people. Maybe join a sports club or a book club. Something that once a week gets me out of the house.
I left the surgery feeling thoroughly underwhelmed and peeved that I don’t have a year’s supply of Valium. But maybe a GP with £1million of training may have a point. So I join a local running club (London City Runners) and book into their beginner’s course (Couch to 5k). I even make a couple of new pals. I start running once or twice a week and call my friends to apologise for hibernation. We talk. It helps. Turns out that how I feel is very normal and completely ok. I start looking after myself and stop binge eating share bags of Maltesers.
My mood begins to lift and energy levels rise – some days I have more energy than the entire cast of Wicked.
The point is sometimes your health doesn’t need to be managed by pills. Sometimes a social prescribing offer is exactly what someone needs to manage their health. We have to start accepting that social isolation and loneliness have a negative impact on health and there is help out there for you.
Probably an opportune moment to thank everyone at London City Runners for their insanely warm welcome, making me feel part of the gang, and helping me stay committed to reaching the 5k milestone.