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Julian's Story: 'My morning run is my mental break'

Published: 07/05/2024

In our latest story, VitalityHealth member Julian shares how his morning run helps him keep fit both mentally and physically.

Even prior to the pandemic, Julian was working from home. He used his morning run to replace his morning commute, a routine that’s now become habit.

“It’s the time when I clear my head and I get to do my own thing for half an hour, when otherwise I would have been commuting,” he tells Vitality.

"The main thing I get from running - beyond the health benefits - is the mental break. When I work at home, I need that distance between home and work. That's my morning run"



Life before running

But it wasn’t always like this for Julian. Prior to finding his love of running life got in the way.

“The thing that put me off was just being lazy: busy life, too much going on, lots of travel with work. Just never finding the time or making the time for myself. I had a young family, so it was very difficult to prioritise these sorts of things.”

Rather than having a light bulb moment, Julian said he gradually came around to the idea he needed to get more active. “I started running because I wasn’t really doing any exercise at all, and I was getting older. I started to realise I couldn’t just go to the pub and do all the things I’ve always done.”

‘I’ve got to start looking after myself’, he thought to himself. “Before I started running, I remember thinking there was no way I can run a 5k,” he admits.

Years later he’s entering the London Marathon, where he managed to put in a “half-decent time”.

“Who’d have thought that me sat on the sofa, thinking about doing a 5k would get to a marathon 10 years later?” he asks. “Running has definitely made a positive impact, not just on my physical health but on my mental health too,” he reflects.

“I feel more able to cope with stress, as well as feeling better about the way I look. I might have gone down a belt size or two – all through running and the motivation I’ve got.”

Small steps to motivation

Looking back, Julian says he owes a lot of his motivation along the way to the Vitality Programme, which sits alongside his health cover and incentivises physical activity through rewards, such as cinema tickets and hand-crafted coffees from Caffè Nero, as well as discounts on running shoes and healthy food from Waitrose.

“The Vitality Programme makes it easy. And it’s made it motivating,” he explains. “I’ve got to the point where I must get my 40 points each week.”

“When I do parkrun on a Saturday, I get eight Vitality points if I run and five if I volunteer. So, if I’ve not reached my weekly target by Friday, then I’ll run parkrun. But if I have, I’ll volunteer at parkrun. It’s all about getting those points each week.”

On days when it’s harder to earn Vitality points, perhaps when he is in the office, Julian now does things like taking the stairs or walking around more than he would do normally in order to boost his step count.

“Sometimes it’s not that easy when you’re sat at a desk,” he says. “But that way I’m still being active.” As well as the small nudges that help him along the way, his ultimate goal relates to the bigger picture.

“When it comes to it, it’s about staying healthy as you’re getting older in life, keeping active and doing things that keep yourself fit,” Julian concludes. “That’s the point of it all for me."

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