08 Jul, 2024

Mental Health First Aiders – Running, Mental Health & Resilience 

By: Claire Morrison Senior Treasury Associate and Mental Health First Aider

As both a Mental Health First Aider and a runner, this really resonates with me.

A personal journey

My personal running journey began back in January 2018. I’d read an advert posted by a local fitness instructor asking for participants for a Couch to 5K group to run along the local river and build up to running 5k in 30mins. At the time I was looking for ways to be active and meet people locally, as we’d recently moved out of Brighton to a small village in the South Downs and didn’t know anyone or the area, so I decided to take the plunge and sign up.

Everyone was so welcoming and friendly and throughout the coming weeks we formed a group of beginners, and it was this sense of belonging to a group and connecting with people that kept me motivated to keep coming back each week. I didn’t know at that point that it would lead to so much more, especially the positive impact on my mental health.

This was 6 years ago and we since went on to form a local running group welcoming even more runners, increasing our distances and abilities, taking part in races, and building friendships along the way. One thing we all experienced, besides being fitter and more active than we had ever been, was the enormous mental health benefits from being part of this running group. We found that talking and running is a great way of sharing your problems and listening to others without it feeling intense or overwhelming. As an introvert, I really appreciate doing an activity as I share how I am feeling, as it feels less pressured and allows me to open up.

Benefits of being in nature

Another benefit to running was that I loved being out in nature and exploring the local countryside and beyond, as the majority of the running I do is trail running. Prior to this, I hadn’t realised how important being in nature was to me and what a positive impact it has on my mental health to be able to appreciate the joys that each season brings. 


Most importantly, I have found that running helps me to build resilience during hard times. Running with a friend and talking as we go was an amazing help to me through the pandemic when I lost 3 family members and was finding work overwhelming and stressful. Most weekends we would go on a Sunday adventure run, which always involved challenging hills! I particularly found the winter adventure runs, sometimes in snow or hail, often in wind, torrential rain and freezing temperatures, had the ability to make me feel invincible. This, combined with the conversations we had while running, helped to build my mental resilience during hard times. It made me feel physically and mentally stronger and I always felt better after one of these “life-affirming runs”.


Solo runs are also beneficial, allowing me the space to be mindful and enjoy the present moment, boosting my mood with the feel-good endorphins released by the exercise.

Running has become an important part of my life and I would encourage anyone to give it a go and enjoy the many benefits it can bring, both physically and mentally. 

RiverStone encourages running and we now have a couple of Thursday running clubs across office locations. These groups get together for a run at lunchtime, and it has been a very uplifting and energising experience for everyone involved.

Claire Morrison – Mental Health First Aider

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