‘I’m proud of the holes in my trainers!’ - Lu’s running journey | Latest News

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‘I’m proud of the holes in my trainers!’ - Lu’s running journey

Meet Lu Liu, a passionate runner and wellbeing practitioner at NHS Wandsworth Talking Therapies. For Mental Health Awareness Week, Lu talks about her role and inspiring journey from 200 meters to conquering a half marathon!

Firstly, tell us about your role as a wellbeing practitioner, what do you do?

As a wellbeing practitioner I facilitate in-person and online psychoeducation workshops covering a wide range of wellbeing topics including self-care, relaxation, building resilience, maintaining wellbeing as parents, self-compassion, and much more. The workshops are free and open to all Wandsworth residents aged 18 and above. 

When the weather is nice the wellbeing team will host walking groups in the community, helping to promote the link between good physical health and mental health. We walk in pairs to create a welcoming space for people to chat and connect while they stroll. 

How does movement and physical activity benefit mental health? 

Engaging in physical activity can be a powerful tool for managing challenging emotions. When we move our bodies, our brains produce endorphins which make us feel happy and relaxed while reducing difficult feelings like stress and anxiety. 

Exercise can also provide social support. Whether through team sports, exercise classes, or running clubs, participating in group activities is a great way to build connections and combat feelings of isolation or loneliness, supporting overall wellbeing.

 How did you get into running? 

Just a few years ago, the thought of running beyond 200 meters seemed daunting, yet now I can comfortably run a half marathon in under two hours! My journey into running started during the pandemic, serving as both an escape and a means of keeping fit. 

Through running, I've realised that with dedication and effort, I can try anything I set my mind to. Embracing this new mindset has encouraged me to explore new activities – from climbing and boxing to hiking, paragliding, board skating, scuba diving, and even skydiving! My mantra is now "no challenge, no growth!" 

In addition to running, I practice yoga daily which I find beneficial for my mental wellbeing. Stretching my body while focusing on my breath helps alleviate mental tension that may not always be visible. 

Exhausting my physical energy through movement each day also helps promote healthy sleeping and eating habits, creating a positive cycle. I believe that quality sleep plays an important role in effectively managing some challenging emotions.

 Tell us about the benefits you have experienced from running? 

Running is not just about maintaining my physical health; it is become an important part of how I look after my emotional health and wellbeing too. In the past, I struggled with shyness, particularly in social situations, but through running I have built new connections and become more confident. 

It’s also helped me discover a tremendous inner strength. When faced with new challenges I no longer ask myself, "can I do this?" but instead, I think, "let me try anyway, what's the worst that could happen?" If I can run 5km, I know I can handle it! Running builds a mindset of persistence, determination, and passion. 

How far do you run each week? 

I run 5km every day, and on weekends I run longer if I have extra time. Last year I ran a total of around 3,000km. My worn-out trainers are witnesses to that! The toes are covered in holes but I am proud of them and the distances they have carried me. 

Since taking up running I have completed three half marathons, raising money for some incredible charities along the way. It is really rewarding to know that even through a seemingly small act like running, I can contribute to making the world a better place. 

What advice would you give someone interested in taking up running? 

Go for it and take it one step at a time! Maybe today's run lasts only five minutes, but tomorrow, who knows how far you will go? Remember, there will always be faster runners ahead of you and people behind. The key is to stay focused on your own journey and not get sidetracked by comparing yourself to others. After all, comparison is the thief of joy! And whether you cross the finish line or not, what matters is having the courage to take that first step forward. Simply put: believe in yourself!

Lu Liu sport activites


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