You know those sideways looks you get from people when you tell them you’ve just been for a run and you feel great? You know the ones, as if they don’t believe you.
We’ve found some living proof of the amazing impact running can have on the mind, in the form of runner Kate Butterfield, who we’ve been following on Instagram for a while.
After stumbling across this article about the “mind-clearing magic of running”, we couldn’t think of a better example of this than Kate, who turned her life around with the help of the sport.
Diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after serving for more than a decade on the New South Wales police force, Kate had hit rock bottom before she found running.
“My journey started with a realisation that my health and fitness was not at all where I wanted it to be. It was a difficult place to find myself at such a young age.
“For me, running was about finding something that made me feel better about myself again.”
She began with a one-kilometre run on the treadmill, something she described as quite traumatic, and from there she set herself some specific goals.
“I wanted to run without breathlessness. I wanted to run freely, without struggle, the same way I wanted my life to be,” Kate says.
With a focus on improving her physical health, Kate hadn’t given much thought to the impact running might have on her mental health, but almost immediately she saw results there too.
“The days I exercised, I ate better, I felt better, I felt stronger. I laughed more, I took more pride in my appearance again,” she says.
“I didn’t realise the massive impact that running was having on my mental health. To this day, running still improves my life.”
As well as the long-term mental impact, the article above talks about the ability of running to bring about a “clarity” of the mind, aiding big life decisions, and creativity.
“One thing that really jumped out at me from the article is the quote from Monte Davis from the book, The Joy of Running: ‘It’s hard to run and feel sorry for yourself at the same time’, he said. ‘Also, there are those hours of clear-headedness that follow a long run’. This resonates strongly with the way I feel about running and the benefits it has on one’s mental health,” Kate says.
“If I don’t run on a certain day, the day runs me. Running gives me mental clarity and control.”
Kate knows there will always be hard days, and says there are still days she doesn’t feel like running, but has noticed the days she doesn’t run aren’t usually her best ones.
She now shares her journey with others, encouraging them to get running with the help of her organisation, Run Brave.
“My absolute desire is to reach as many people as possible and inspire as many people as possible to use running to manage their mental health, and take back control of their own lives.
“I strongly believe that running saved my life.”