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New running group to encourage better mental health

A SUPPORT group whose focus is ‘Run Talk Run’ has been set up in Omagh, where participants are encouraged to speak to others in order to help with mental health issues.

It meets every Monday at the Omagh Leisure Complex before completing a 5k run, but with no focus on times and running at the pace of the slowest runner.

The group’s founder, Alex McKinley, said the initiative had first been set up in England and allows people a more comfortable environment to talk about issues they may be dealing with in their life.

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“Run Talk Run comes from an initiative set up by a girl called Jess Robson over in England. She was struggling with her mental health and ended up going for runs with her mum and found that she could open up a lot easier when she was running,” Alex said.

“It’s a mental health support running group and the idea is that the running comes secondary to the chatting. It’s a confidential space where you can just come and have a chat about really mundane things, or you can open up.”

“It’s a 5K run, but we are not going for a personal best or any kind of speed. We run at the pace of the slowest runner, and if it means that it’s a walk-run that night then that is 100 per-cent.”

The group was initially set up in February of this year, but has only had its first three runs in the last three weeks as lockdown restrictions have eased.

Alex said, “We’re capped at 15 people for now. There’s an app you have to download and your run gets posted there.

“Generally we will be trying to keep it to quite a nice intimate group so it’s easier for people to chat while they are running.

“Everybody has been chatting to different people on their runs, nobody sticks to their own wee group or anything like that. The first two weeks have had a really nice vibe.

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“Life today is just really hectic and there’s a lot of pressure coming from all different directions. It’s nice to have a space to run where it’s just you and other people, and to have the space to just slow down and make connections with people.”

* Anyone who would like to join the ‘Run Talk Run’ which takes place at 6.15pm every Monday from the Omagh Leisure Complex car park, can search ‘Connect Wellbeing’ on Facebook or Instagram.

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Ulster Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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