Charlie Webster: How Running Can Help Your Mental Health

13th May 2021
Yolanda Martin

Charlie Webster on the positive impact running can have on mental health

Charlie Webster shares her experience of running and the positive impact it has had on her mental wellbeing for Mental Health Awareness Week.

Charlie is a broadcaster, writer, campaigner and member of the LYG board.

I jumped off the bus, climbed through the hole in the fence, flipping between feeling flat and foggy to gritting my teeth with pent up frustration and heightened anxiety. Trainers on, I ripped open the poppers on my tracksuit, my shorts already on underneath and started running. I could feel stride after stride all my overwhelming feelings literally run out of me, the more I ran, the more I felt like I could breathe again and for that moment I’d feel peace. This became my routine from the age of 12.

I also found some incredible friendships through running, that made me feel cared for and accepted. I still run for all the same reasons, it helps me manage depression, gives me a bit of head space and a boost in my mood, when I’m just not feeling things. There’s a phrase known as ‘runner’s high’ – running releases feel-good chemicals in the brain, endorphins, so going for a run does scientifically actually make you feel better but what it also does is help our brains deal with stress over time. For me, it’s also something I’m in control of, and if I’m feeling stressed or like my mind is a pot of boiling water that is so full to the brim it’s going to bubble over, I can take charge of the situation, and go for a run to release it all. It’s empowering! Running also boosts self-esteem and confidence, it gives a sense of achievement and with each run you feel stronger and fitter. It’s such a good feeling!

Running has also led me to have some incredible experiences running marathons in amazing places, the London marathon with my best friend, the LA marathon where runners were getting married at the halfway mark and even Singapore where I supported runners with special educational needs. It’s also given me opportunities to raise money for charities and causes that are close to my heart.

Happy running!

Charlie Webster x

Like Charlie, London Youth Games believes sport and physical activity can improve our mental wellbeing. This Mental Health Awareness Week, we encourage Londoners to get involved in our Virtual Spring Run competition.

Virtual Spring Run is an inclusive competition for all Londoners aged 18 or under.

It builds on the success of the London Youth Games’ Virtual Cross Country event that took place in November, and follows a series of virtual activities organised during the third lockdown, including the Virtual Inclusive Games, Virtual Dance and School Games Fitness Challenges, which attracted over 80,000 entries.

With lockdown measures lifting, Virtual Spring Run will provide young Londoners with the opportunity to get active and represent their boroughs as they prepare for a return to face-to-face sport.

Andy Dalby-Welsh, CEO of LYG, said: “We know the positive impact that sport and physical activity can have on young people’s mental wellbeing. Following the success of our Virtual Cross Country event and other virtual activities, we have developed an inclusive running event to help young people transition back to sport.”