Friday, 7 July 2017

Combining hearts and minds: Katie Bunting reports on the club's first mindfulness run at Heartwood Forest

Katie Bunting reports on the club's first mindfulness run which was organised by Gareth Beavis in June...

I must admit I drove to Heartwood Forest thinking it would just be a great social run in a lovely location.

And it was, but I also came away thinking a bit more about myself, my attitude to running, and (not to sound too corny) how I can hopefully help a couple of people close to me who, until recently, I had no idea were having some mental health issues.

Heartwood looked beautiful on the day of the run
I think it’s easy to look at family and friends and think "they look fine, they're getting out and about, they've said they're ok" but I think the complexities of mental health issues make it hard to always know if someone is having some problems.

The day of the run was sunny and warm, very warm in fact, so I was quite glad the run was a steady 5km with several stops. Heartwood looked beautiful in the sunlight; the meadow flowers were in full bloom and recollections of running the Stampede route in driving wind and rain soon became a very distant memory.

We started off by focusing on our breathing which I did find odd, especially standing in the middle of a meadow with my eyes closed but it was strangely relaxing and one of the things I have taken away from the run is the importance to stop every now and then and just take a few minutes out to draw breath.

Gareth had planned the route with a couple of sections where we didn’t talk and focused on our breathing or how our bodies felt. Yes, it was strange to run with others and not talk but it was also interesting to just focus on how my body was working and feeling as I was running.

Heartwood was the perfect location to enjoy being outdoors, and greeting horse riders, dog walkers and a couple of people running with radio aerials (I’m still not too sure what they were looking for!) reaffirmed my enjoyment of running and being a member of Striders.

All too soon the run was over and we were back at the car park, where we headed to the local pub for a well-earned drink and chat. The run had been very well organised and everyone looked hot but relaxed at the end, and I think we all had learnt a little bit about ourselves during the run.

Thank you Gareth and I look forward to the next one.

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