How running can give you a lift

July 11 2016

TWO women from a community running club in Staple Hill will be encouraging people to take up the sport in a bid to help combat mental illness.


TWO women from a community running club in Staple Hill will be encouraging people to take up the sport in a bid to help combat mental illness.

Maddy Ashton and Charlotte Nickson, from Staple Hill Runners, will both take on a new role as a Mental Health Ambassador to support the charity Mind.

The pair have been selected by England Athletics and are two of 128 people nationwide who will provide support and encouragement to people who would like to improve their mental and physical well-being through running.

As well as being runners themselves, both Maddy and Charlotte have experience in mental health issues, making them the ideal candidates to take on the important role.

Maddy, 43, who lives in Stapleton, works with people who suffer from various forms of mental ill health.

She said: “I believe that exercise and running play a central role in the recovery and stability of mental well-being. It certainly does for me. If I was to be asked what keeps me mentally well, running would be one of my answers, I find it a mood stabiliser.”  

Charlotte, 44, of Downend, has undertaken various forms of training regarding mental health and has recently completed a session on anxiety and depression.

Maddy returned to running with the encouragement of her GP and counsellor after suffering with post-natal depression, anxiety and depression.  

She said: “ I started running with a group and quickly realised just how much it was helping me to feel better. Better for exercising, better for having some head space from home, work and family, better for being sociable and better for feeling fitter and having more energy.  

"I have talked openly about my struggles with mental health and found that this has encouraged others to talk about their experiences. I know that there are many people out there struggling on. Knowing just how awful the worst times can be, it would be great to help others find a way of coping through running, talking and sharing experiences”.

Staple Hill Runners is a community based running group that caters for everyone from beginners to experienced runners. It boasts up to 80 frequent runners with the oldest member in their 60s.

Maddy said: "For some people joining a running club can be quite daunting but this is a large community running group with members who have hugely varied running abilities. It's not a competitive running group and everyone is really supportive and encouraging."

Charlotte said: "We try to integrate the runners in to the local running community through parkrun and local events. Many of the beginners are now regular parkrunners! The mutual support and friendships that many have gained from the group is fantastic. Regular running has helped many group members with their mental and physical well being, and general health has much improved since joining the group."

The group is run by coach Helen Newberry and is well supported by qualified run leaders. It is completely free and everyone is welcome.

The group recently applied for Sport Relief Community Cash and were successful in getting funding for three additional leaders, kit subsidy and a flag.

Staple Hill Runners meet on Thursdays.  Contact them via the Staple Hill Runners Facebook page or via email or just turn up at the park gates at 7pm.