Running can do wonders for the physical and mental health of people as Peter Kelly explains…


I feel sorry for university students today. The job market is very competitive, the fees are very high, there must be much more pressure to stay focused and really see university as training for a specific job.

You would want to have a sense that you are going to get a return on your investment. It is much more of a transaction now than when I started my first degree 17 years ago.

When I set off from Ireland to Brighton to attend university, training for a specific job (pharmacy) was important but it was not my main priority. I was going to university to test my limits and discover who I was.

Like Icarus, I knew you were not supposed to fly too close to the sun for too long but I wanted to find out how long I could before my wings would melt. I also wanted to find out how long I could fly close to the sea feeling the freshness of the sea mist before my wings would fall apart from the damp.

As my degree drew to a close I knew my limits. I knew what I was capable of mentally, emotionally, psychologically and physically. I had also learnt a very valuable life lesson. We are all breakable and if you crack, you may not be repairable. You may never be the same person again, like a vase that smashes and gets glued back together. You look like the same vase but you are not as strong as you once were.

Anyone who has ever lived a life of over-indulgence with limited structure and routine will know deciding you want to live a more balanced life of routine and being able to make that change are two different things.

Once I decided I wanted to live a calm, structured life of simple routines, early nights, healthy food and exercise so I could perform effectively as a pre-reg pharmacist and later a pharmacist. Running was the key to achieving that desired lifestyle.

The health benefits of running are incredible. Not only is running good for you physically, not only does it help you sleep better, running gives you a high, a ‘runner’s high,’ that can add great colour to a life that appears boring and routine. Running is great for letting your mind wander. You can run off your anxious thoughts or over-sensitive emotions. You can let your imagination run wild and jump-start your creative thinking.

Running regularly will help you become more productive, more emotionally balanced, less anxious and less depressed. Running will help you become more creative, motivated, determined, optimistic and inspired.

Everybody should run. If you have never ran but want to start the best way is to sign up for a running event. A 5k or 10k is a good starting point. Signing up for an event will force you to stick with it and push through the initial difficulty of sticking to a new hobby.

At first you will find it tiring but in time running will give you more energy than it takes.


Peter Kelly is a community pharmacist based in London. He is signed up to run the British Heart Foundation 10k on March 18. If you want to donate click here.