I feel like a different person, thanks to running …

Parkrunners in Bramley Park. Photo: Simon Cullingworth

I am a Run Leader and one of six Mental Health Ambassadors for the #runandtalk campaign with Hyde Park Harriers, a Leeds city centre based running club, writes Samantha Scarlett.

My running journey started whilst I was at University, I realised that I was in a downward spiral of low self-esteem and depression, which was made worse by the fact that I didn’t do any form of exercise.

Running seemed like the most simple and accessible kind of exercise to do. The sad part was that I was so anxious and nervous that I would always run alone and early in the morning so that no one could see me – I would never recommend doing this!

Parkruns like this one in Bramley Park can help your wellbeing. Photo: Simon Cullingworth

I started going to Woodhouse Moor parkrun, where you can now regularly find me chatting and cheering and generally plodding/running around happily.

Four and a half years later, I feel like a completely different person. The journey hasn’t been completely easy and I’ve had some stumbles along the way, but it has certainly been worthwhile.

Running has given me the confidence to accept myself and my flaws and has improved my mental and physical health dramatically. I’m continuously humbled and inspired by the stories of the runners I’ve met. Whether they are battling mental and physical health issues or making the brave (and sometimes scary!) decision to make a positive change in their lives, I feel so privileged to hear their reasons for running.

Running has allowed me to meet fantastic people, visit new and exciting places and contribute back to the activity which has given me so much. I always remind myself of the support and encouragement I’ve received from others, whether it was at parkrun, running club or simply a “well done” at a race and try to pay this forward in my roles as a Run Leader and a Mental Health Ambassador.

I’m really proud to say that I’m a Mental Health Ambassador for the #runandtalk campaign, which is a national campaign with England Athletics and Mind. At Hyde Park Harriers, we have six ambassadors, who work to support existing runners, encourage new runners and get those all-important conversations about Mental Health going.

Having conversations about Mental Health is so very important. Everyone deserves to know that their mental health and their feelings matter and know where to go if they need support. When someone comes to run with us, we respect that they are taking a big step and try to support them as much as we can.

We’ve had great feedback to the #runandtalk campaign so far and we love hearing the conversations people have been having and seeing the difference a sociable, no-pressure run in good company can make! We’re also planning a #runandtalk public event to encourage discussions about Mental Health within the community- you can follow the Facebook page for updates on this!

As with all HPH sessions, our sessions are free, inclusive for all abilities (including beginners) and open to everyone, even members of other clubs.

Happy running, and thank you for reading.


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