Running after birth: ‘Running became ‘me’ time’

Photo by Stuart Hendry

'I only discovered running after we had our kids. With our first, Cian, I had a caesarean, poor aftercare and difficulty breastfeeding. It wasn’t the world I’d imagined.

Later I suffered very low moods. Things came to a head one day when I was weaning Cian and he wouldn’t eat his carrot purée. I curled up into a ball in the kitchen and sobbed my heart out. I knew that it was more than ‘baby blues’.

My GP diagnosed postnatal depression (PND) and prescribed antidepressants and some cognitive-therapy sessions. I took the pills for about six months. They really helped, but I felt there must be another way to deal with it.

I began running after I had our daughter, Aoife, in 2011. I didn’t suffer PND because I knew the signs to look out for. I found running was a great coping mechanism.

I googled the charity Mind at the start of 2012 and saw they had places at the Royal Parks Half Marathon in October. I made it my running goal and though I found it very hard at first, I knew I had to stick with it. Running was my own free therapy. I would go on my own and it became ‘me’ time.

I think running has made me a better parent because I can extract myself from family life for a short time and come back feeling fresher.

Running the Royal Parks Half meant I could open up to people about why I was doing it and talk about my battle with PND. I found it very cathartic. I could get the message out that it’s not something to be ashamed of.

I did the London Marathon in 2015 and plan to run the Dublin Marathon, too. I believe that things happen in life for a reason. And out of something bad I’ve found something good in running.’

Mind’s Get Set to Go programme supports people experiencing mental health problems in joining sports clubs, going to the gym or taking up new sports. Click here to find out more.