Keeping your Mental Health in Shape for the GNR

With the Great North Run fast approaching, having a motivated and positive mindset can help you with your goals and training, whilst improving your mental wellbeing.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and this year’s focus is anxiety.  

With the marathon coming up in September you may be feeling stressed or anxious about the run, so here are some tips on how to keep your mental health in shape for the Great North Run 2023. 


Don’t put too much pressure on yourself 

You may want to meet a particular time target or want to make a habit of running every day. And whilst targets are important to have something to aim towards, they shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all. 

Assess that your targets are attainable, and make sure that you don’t put too much pressure on yourself. If on the day you don’t meet your target time, you shouldn’t be ashamed of that. Undertaking the task of running the Great North Run is amazing on its own and you should be proud of yourself.  

Just Breathe 

Breathing is important for multiple reasons during running, and it also comes with the benefit of helping with your mental health. 

To maximise your performance, it’s vital that you tune in with your breath and make the appropriate improvements. This is to make sure that you aren’t feeling too short of breath or hyperventilating.  

It’s recommended that if you’re running at a slower pace that you use nasal breathing, choosing to inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. However, if you find yourself struggling to catch your breath, you may find it easier to breathe through your mouth.

During sprints and high intensity runs, it’s recommended that you breathe solely through your mouth since it’s more efficient. Inhaling and exhaling through your mouth allows more oxygen to enter your body and fuel your muscles. It also helps to relieve tension in your jaw, which can help you relax your face and body.  

On the other hand, just stopping to take a few deep breaths does wonders. Concentrating on calming down your breathing helps to target overthinking and can reduce anxiety and negative thoughts. You can practice your breathing with techniques such as the below:  

Whilst sitting up and upright or while lying down keep your mouth closed and inhale through your nose to the count of four (4). Hold your breath to the count of seven (7) and finally exhale out of your mouth to the count of eight (8). Repeat the process as many times as you wish to help you relax. 


A great way to block out the outside world is to put your headphones in.

Music has been proven to improve sporting performance. Pairing your favourite playlist with your daily exercise is a sure way to stay motivated.  

Listening to music isn’t for everyone though. For those who would prefer to skip the music, it’s worth trying out a podcast or audiobook. There are so many free podcasts available through various apps and these cover a huge variety of topics.  

You’ll be spoilt for choice, including documentaries, true crime, comedy, daily news and educational content to name a few.   

Keep Connected 

It’s important to have a balance of a social life and alone time.  

Maintaining connections and relationships with people is helpful to maintain a positive attitude. Having a running buddy can help you keep on track with targets and motivate you to go even further. You’ll also be surprised at how a simple phone call with a friend or family member can uplift your mood. 

But monitor your social battery. If you’re feeling burnt out, make sure to schedule in some you-time. Go on a walk or plan in some time to relax and watch your favourite TV show.  

Did you know that we have a Facebook Group for #TeamPercyHedley? There you can connect with and share stories with the very people you’ll be running with in September. 

Overall, it’s important to be self-aware of your mental health and be able to recognise the signs of a deteriorating mental state. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice when you need it. And take care of yourself.