How we run happy and healthy – Scott Bartlett and Jonathan Bird
14 May 2021
This week we’re again talking to members of Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust’s running group, Team LGT. Scott Bartlett (pictured right) is a senior communications officer at the Trust and only took up running relatively recently, while his colleague, orthopaedic consultant Jonathan Bird (pictured left), is a more experienced runner – although both have marathons under their belts! We get their views on how running as part of a team can help you feel happier and healthier...
When did you start running and why?
Scott: “I started in around 2007. Partly because I was recovering from a big knee operation and partly for my general wellbeing – I was overweight and my job at the time meant I was ‘socialising’ a bit too much!
“I made several statements in the pub about doing something running-related, then just put a beer down one day and said I was going to sign up for the Virgin Money London Marathon. Optimism and naivety were in great abundance.
“Over the years the mental health benefits of running and being part of the community have become as, if not more, important as the physical side.”
Jonathan: “I have always run but have taken it more seriously in terms of competition in my forties.”
Have you taken part in any running events before?
Scott: “I feel privileged to have run three London Marathons raising money for Age UK. parkrun has also been incredibly rewarding. I have taken part in three virtual events during lockdown and really enjoyed the challenges they offered.”
Jonathan: “I have – mainly shorter, in-person track, cross country and road events. But I’ve also done The Vitality Big Half, and did the virtual Virgin Money London Marathon last year.”
What are the benefits of virtual events?
Scott: “They are definitely helpful in keeping a goal in mind, motivating you to get out to train and bringing people together on the day, virtually or in smaller distanced groups, it really helps us stay connected.
Jonathan: “I think virtual events are good to try to keep people involved, although I personally don’t really like them – I get all the pre-race anxiety without the competition on the day!”
Our 10 weeks to 10K training plan is called Run Happy and Healthy – how has training for the Vitality London 10,000 made you feel happy and healthy?
Scott: “Honestly, I’ve been struggling a little lately, mentally and physically, but the training is really helping me focus on something positive.”
Jonathan: “Running is very important to me as it is a very mindful activity – I think only about running while I’m running. This has great benefits for me in terms of my mental health. The physical benefits are huge too.”
How have you fitted in training with your busy schedule working for the NHS?
Scott: “I’m not on the frontline so I cannot comprehend how tiring it has been for those colleagues. I know a run will make me feel better, but stepping out the door hasn’t always been easy.”
Jonathan: “With difficulty! One thing I’ve been doing is getting off the train earlier than normal and running the rest of the way.”
Does having colleagues who are also taking part help motivate you?
Scott: “Team LGT are always motivational. You couldn’t be a part of a more positive, upbeat group of people. I am loosely a member of several running groups whose members are always happy to share stories, listen and motivate each other.”
Jonathan: “I don’t live near anyone else who runs at the hospital, but I’m a member of a running club and find the extra motivation of running with others invaluable.”
What would you say to someone who’s finding it hard to stay motivated to exercise?
Scott: “Don’t get overwhelmed and over-think it. Even just taking 15 minutes to do a workout, or a little run/walk, can have a massive benefit.”
Jonathan: “Find someone else to run with, also follow people around your pace on an app like Strava. Seeing someone else go out when it’s cold and miserable sometimes helps.”
And what about people who might want to try running but feel self-conscious or think they might not be fit enough?
Scott: “If you run, any distance, or at any speed, then you are a runner and we’re all with you. If you’re out there doing it then you’re winning – just focus on you and feel proud.
“Try not to compare yourself to anyone else. Follow a programme, or simply walk when you have to and build that stamina, it won’t take long. Reach out for support and encouragement if you need it.”
Jonathan: “The best way to start running is to join a Couch to 5K group. The other thing to do is to get down to your local parkrun (once they restart). They are very inclusive and have everything from incredibly fast runners doing it in 17 minutes to people walking/running in an hour and everything in between. No one will laugh no matter how you look – on the contrary they will be cheering you on.”
Are you planning to run the virtual Vitality London 10,000 with anyone else this year?
Scott: “Hopefully with some of the Team LGT group if they’ll slow down for me!”
Jonathan: “Despite me not usually enjoying the virtual ones, I might make an exception for this one!”
What are you most looking forward to about this year’s virtual Vitality London 10,000?
Scott: “Hopefully some lovely scenery, if not just the feeling of achievement and getting to wear my Team LGT top and raising some money for our Trust charity and awareness of the good work it does.”
Jonathan: “I got a personal best on a 10K earlier this year, so I’d like to try to get close to that time.”