Support the mental and physical wellbeing of young people and their families in Gloucestershire
Fundraising Manager, Karl Gwilliam

Running for Wellbeing

“I’m Karl Gwilliam, Fundraising Manager here at YG. As part of Mental Health Awareness week and the theme of ‘Moving for our Mental health’ I want to share how running has become my go-to for staying active and keeping my physical and mental health in check.

“At 53, I might not be breaking any speed records or covering marathon distances, but I lace up my running shoes nonetheless. Sure, my knees sometimes protest, and my calves and Achilles can be touchy, especially in the chilly, damp winter months. But here’s the thing – skipping my runs leaves me feeling sluggish and irritable. So, I keep at it.

“For me, running hits all the marks when it comes to the “5 Ways to Wellbeing”: Be Active, Take Notice, Learn, Connect, and Give. And because of that, I feel a whole lot better in myself.

Be Active:

Running (or even walking) isn’t just about keeping physically fit; it’s a game-changer for mental wellbeing too. Just like Forrest Gump hit the road to clear his head, running has been my therapy through tough workdays and the chaos of dealing with CV19.

Take Notice:

I’m not a fan of pounding the pavements in urban areas; I’d rather head off-road. Lucky for me, living in Gloucestershire means I’m surrounded by fields, hills, woods, and rivers – my running playground. Nature’s surprises are endless; from spotting local wildlife to unexpected encounters with turtles and porpoises, each run feels like an adventure. Being out in nature calms my mind and reminds me to focus on the big picture.


Trail running requires a different skill set than road running, especially when it comes to navigation. So, I’ve had to brush up on my map-reading skills. And lately, I’ve swapped my silent runs for podcasts – a great way to learn something new while pounding the trails.


My family and I are regulars at Parkrun, a fantastic community event that brings people together for a free 5km run every Saturday morning. It’s become a family tradition, and we’ve made connections with other runners that go beyond the finish line. The sense of belonging is priceless.


Sure, I get frustrated by litter and fly-tipping on my runs, but I try to do my bit to give back. Whether it’s reporting litterbugs or joining local clean-up efforts, every little helps. And let’s not forget the fundraising opportunities that running provides – it’s a win-win. Huge numbers of people each year take part in events such as the London Marathon and local events such as the Gloucester 10k and raise millions for charities across the world.  Having a target and doing something positive like this is a great way to give yourself motivation and drive to get up and get moving.

Getting Started:

Running is simple; all you need is a decent pair of trainers and the will to start. But if you’re new to it or have health concerns, it’s worth checking in with a medical pro first. And when you do hit the road, be safe – let someone know where you’re going, carry your phone, and wear something bright if you’re running at night.

Here are my top tips for getting started:

  • Ease In: If you’re new to running, try the NHS Couch to 5K app. It’ll guide you through a gradual programme to build up your stamina.
  • Join Parkrun: Look up your local Parkrun events – they’re inclusive and welcoming to all abilities.
  • Set Goals: Sign up for a running event later in the year. Having something to aim for keeps you motivated.
  • Track Your Progress: Apps like Strava are great for monitoring your runs and setting challenges to keep you on track.
  • Find a Buddy: Running with a friend or joining a club can make it more enjoyable and keep you accountable.

“So, if you’re looking to boost your physical and mental health, why not lace up those trainers and hit the road? It might just be the best decision you ever make.”

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