If you’re already planning on setting yourself some well-intentioned but potentially hard to achieve goals on the first day of the year read on. 

That pesky feeling of shame when you’ve over indulged, and the onslaught of “New Year, New You” messages everywhere you look mean it’s easy to get sucked into setting yourself a punishing New Year’s Resolution.

The festive season is meant to be fun so give yourself a break. Most people who set themselves an unrealistic goal in January ditch the good intentions in less than two weeks. This New Year be kinder to yourself if you want to see results. Take the pressure off, set realistic long term goals and ease yourself into a sustainable routine you can maintain year-round. According to Strava, 92% of people who set themselves the goal of an event are still active 10 months later.

Claire Coulthard took part in the Simplyhealth Great North Run as part of her role as leader of a peer support group to help people with mental health problems through exercise.

Claire, from Stockton-on-Tees, sought help for her own mental health issues as a result of a failed suicide attempt in 2017 and has gone on to volunteer for Mind, the mental health charity.

Her group, Red Balloons, started in February and has grown to help more than 600 people online, while Claire leads sessions to around ten people weekly face to face.

She is the leader of a small group of people who have her to thank for their progress, and who feel inspired to take part in a half marathon run themselves.

Red Balloons now has its first official premises and the self-belief Claire has gained through her training means she is now in the middle of her first year at university.

She said: “If I hadn't found exercise, I really don't know where I would be. If I didn't have that community or that sense of purpose, I think my journey would have been very different. I would have probably struggled a lot more.

“I realised I could put the two together, so help people with mental health the way that I've been helped, and I started volunteering for Mind.

“I started raising money as it gave me a purpose, I did a 10K, I did my first half marathon last year, it gradually progressed from there."

Her new-found confidence through running led her to apply for a place in the Simplyhealth Great North Run when the ballot opened in January.

Claire added: “I love the fact I can use my story and my experiences to help others, I can give back because of what I've been through and achieved through being kind to myself.

“It's well known that fitness does help your mental health.

“Even if you're struggling in that moment, if you do 15 minutes of exercise you feel a lot better afterwards, so just having the space to come and do the exercise you can manage, rather than going somewhere and feeling you have to do it, makes everything better.

“The Simplyhealth Great North Run helped me to prove to myself that I can do anything if I set my mind to it and be realistic about my goals and I’ll be taking part in my first marathon in 2019.”

The 2019 Simplyhealth Great North Run will take place on Sunday 8 September. For more infomation visit: Greatrun.org/North