Sinead’s Running Story
We recently spoke to Sinead Brannigan who recently got into running and completed the couch to 5k. We asked her some questions and she has shared her inspiring story with us.
How did your running journey begin and what were you reasons for starting?
My running journey began in January 2020, I had heard about the mental health benefits and as someone who battles with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, I’m always keen to find more ways in which to manage my anxiety. I didn’t really believe that running could make that much of a difference but it’s been transformative for me. I used the couch to 5k app to get me started as I had not tried to run since the bleep test in P.E at high. I wanted to give my body the chance to work up some stamina and had no idea what I would be capable of starting this journey at the age of 30. For me I think I was naturally fitter than I had realised as by week 6 I no longer needed the app and moved across to a running app that measured my distance and I was able to complete 5km with ease.
What do you enjoy about running and how does it make you feel?
I feel powerful when I run, I know that if I am battling in my mind and not feeling good enough which is a common thought of mine, I will automatically feel a sense of achievement and an increase in self- esteem during and after any run I complete. I feel like I am in my own world, with my headphones in and I only have one thing to do and that is to run, that is my priority in that moment and I am able to stay in the present moment really easily whilst running which is normally difficult for me. My head is usually ticking over at a hundred miles an hour and my thoughts race but not whilst I am running, I feel grounded and strong when I run.
Are there any challenges that you have overcome with your running or are still facing?
I think the challenge for me was the motivation to run or do any form of exercise around full time work and all the other household chores, shopping, seeing friends, that I felt took over my week. It was easy to make an excuse however I could find myself lost on my phone for 30 minutes or more at a time and I wasn’t achieving anything so I was determined to use this time for a better reason that would benefit me mentally and physically. The motivation was soon an issue of the past once my brain was reaping the rewards of the ‘after run’ feeling, it was like an adrenaline rush that I wanted to keep topping up so I found myself easily completing 2 or 3 runs a week without having to push myself. I noticed that Winter effected my motivation however and the cold and dark weather made me not as keen to get out so I accepted that maybe 1 or 2 runs a week would suffice and concentrated on that after run feeling that I know I am going to get and just pushed myself. Having your favourite tracks downloaded and ready on your playlist is a must! I also got my boyfriend involved after much nagging and this has helped a lot with my Winter running as I tend to run in rural areas which are not lit up and this wouldn’t be safe on my own but I get much more benefit from these rural runs than running in busy lit up areas. I used the excuse that in order to be safe I needed my boyfriend with me. It took 2 runs and he is completely sold and it’s now an activity we both enjoy together. We listen to separate playlists and run alongside each other to our hearts content. I still go on my own when I can as I cherish that alone time but it’s been great to mix it up and do some couple runs too.
What would you say to others who might be thinking about starting running for the first time?
Don’t assume you can’t run because you haven’t run since school which I honestly assumed would be the case. I also smoked for 15 years before stopping at the start of my running journey and assumed that would mean I couldn’t run however again this made no difference at all. One thing running has done is ensure I would never smoke again as my lungs are now the most important thing for me in order to ensure I can keep running for as many years as possible. For me the running replaced the smoking in terms of stress management which again I did not think would be possible but it absolutely is. So if you’re thinking about it, then at least give it a try with an app like couch to 5k which will get you to your goal without a doubt. The first run I went on when I started the couch to 5k app was about a 60 second run and I laughed and thought ‘no chance’ am I ever going to be running for 30 minutes without stopping but 6 weeks later it had happened. I would also say find your own way of running, if you prefer to do it alone then do it alone, if you prefer to be away from traffic and the public, find a more rural private space. Don’t worry about your times or pace and if you prefer don’t even track your run, as long as you are running you will be reaping the benefits, you don’t need to share times or distance with anyone and a 10 minute slow run is still better than no run so just get out there and find what works for you. Get your favourite music downloaded and some running trainers and I promise you won’t regret it.
What are your next steps / where do you see your running going in the future?
My next steps are to simply keep on running for the mental health benefits it has had on me. I am not competitive so whilst I think competitive running and longer distances are great for some people, for me personally, I’m happy to be doing a couple of 5k runs every week and reaping the benefits. I honestly feel lighter than I ever have in my mind and I can certainly tell if I have missed a week as it shows in my mood so this alone means that for me, running is here to stay.