Running for mental wellness with Lydia O’Donnell

2020 has been a year of unrest, with the world being turned upside down and many unknowns. It has created a place where now, more than ever, we need to look after ourselves. Our physical and mental health should be our priority at all times. If anything, this year has highlighted the impact that both forms of health can have on our entire hauora and how intertwined these facets can be.

Physical movement is one the most accessible tools that each and every one of us have to create a mind that is happy and healthy.

The basic act of moving, whether it is dancing, running, doing yoga, surfing or lifting weights, provides the mind with natural endorphins as well as a sense of purpose and accomplishment that over time can create a confident and content being that lives a fulfilled life.

Meditation can be a means to take control of your thoughts and understand who you truly are. Running, for many people, is a form of meditation. It is a monotonous movement, one foot after the other, but through the act of covering kilometres and reaching new goals comes a power of allowing your mind to flourish. Although running itself can be hard and bring along many new challenges, the actual ability to get up each day and lace up your shoes to hit the road can ultimately be the best thing you can do for yourself and your mental health.

Through running you are able to dedicate time to be with yourself.

It is a period of time to be productively and acceptably self-caring. The time to disconnect from your reality and connect to your being. The ebbs and flows of a single run, as well as a training journey, are very similar to the pathway of life. Through a run you will face challenges that you have to overcome. Through a running journey over weeks or months, you will see progression. Creating habits and rituals that ultimately guide you towards your running goal will eventually allow you to achieve success. This is the serendipity of running – the tools you learn are to be dedicated, committed and to create consistency in the sport. These will bring you the satisfaction of working hard to achieve your goals. And this is how running mimics life.

There are many other benefits that running can bring to your mental wellbeing. Including the social element of connecting with others who are continuously chasing the better version of themselves. Our connection to others plays a huge part in who we are and how we feel about ourselves. The understanding of respect that other people provide to you can teach you the level of respect you deserve to give to yourself. By building these relationships with other people throughout the community of running can help to create a confidence in yourself which will ultimately make you feel proud of who you are. Exactly how we should all feel about ourselves.

The purpose of chasing these goals can also build a direction into each day which over time allows you to better understand yourself. Through purpose comes motivation and through motivation comes success. The understanding of our ‘why’ and the impact of working towards goals leads to a life of fulfillment. Running, although it sounds so simple, has the ability to help you to feel more fulfilled.

Running can be hard. The desire to challenge your body can sound intimidating. Finding the time each day may be a challenge. But everyone can do it. And knowing that every run is a step closer to building a better you should be motivation enough to create the habit of prioritizing that time and effort to become a runner.

Get Lydia’s 6 Week Beginner Running Programme here!

About Lydia:

Lydia was born and raised in New Zealand. As an athlete Lydia has been competing on the international stage for over 10 years. She has represented New Zealand on numerous occasions across multiple distances but is now focusing on the marathon. Her most recent marathon was in Melbourne in 2019 where she ran a personal best time of 2.38.30. 

Running to Lydia is so much more than fast times and being selected for national teams. Lydia believes that running is a tool that we all should embrace to live a mentally and physically healthy lifestyle. Lydia has been working as a running coach for over 5 years and has recently launched a new female coaching business called Femmi. Femmi is based on the theories that when approaching the training, recovery and nutritional elements for female athletes we should be taking into account the physiology of each specific female. Femmi is very hands on coaching from only female coaches to the athlete with the understanding that the proposed training is not only built off the athletes abilities and goals, but also their hormonal fluctuations. 

Lydia is also the Nike Running Head Coach for the Pacific and is now based in Melbourne, Australia working closely with the brand as well as her running community, Hunter Athletics. 

Femmi Website –

Lydia ODonnell Coaching website –

Insta @lydiaodo 

Images credit Matty Smith

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

My Food Bag © Copyright 2020. All rights reserved.