Uniting to Run for Mental Health

Statement Ad

Running has had such a positive impact on Will Farr’s mental health in the past, that it spurred him on to set up a running group to help those around him who were facing similar struggles. On 19 May, Will and fellow members of his running group will be taking part in the AJ Bell Great Bristol Run to raise funds for Bristol Mind.

“The idea for my running group started in November last year when my partner was experiencing depression. Having been through that myself, I know one of the best ways to lift your mood is by running. Unfortunately, running is usually the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling like that,” explains Will.

“I started out by recruiting a few friends who I thought might potentially want to join us for regular runs, and created a group orientated around encouraging each other to get out there and do it.”

The group’s name, ‘NO BS’ takes its inspiration from the BS5 post code area where it started. Whilst not taking any nonsense, they’re also not taking themselves too seriously, and are fully aware that NO BS looks quite funny when written on things.

“For some people, large running groups full of really sporty people can be quite off-putting and inaccessible. Ours is simply a nice, interesting group of people who are doing it to be social rather than focusing on performance. There’s a real sense of community.

“But as well as running as a group, I like to run on my own and clear my mind. It helps keep things in perspective.”

An anaesthetic practitioner at Bristol’s Southmead Hospital, Will first decided to ramp up his fitness activity in late 2016. At this time, he was facing divorce and leading a relatively inactive lifestyle. He decided to take up running to lose weight and improve his mental health. The following year, he went on to incorporate swimming and cycling into his routine and by the time the pandemic started in 2020, he had completed two Ironman distance triathlons.

“When I was in the routine of being a lot more active, I used to be able to finish a 12-hour shift and then do a half marathon for fun. Once you’re that fit you can keep going, but once you stop it’s harder to get started again. I have had a four-year break from any training, and this half marathon feels like a challenge again.”

“These days it’s all about doing what I can and being part of the running group helps to motivate me to get out there.”

Will is keen to encourage others to take up running as a means of supporting their mental and physical wellbeing.

“For me, the Power of Running is a sense of control and that’s immeasurably valuable throughout every part of your life. You get an endorphin rush and you’re often inclined to eat more healthily too.

“It’s the easiest sport as it takes no practice or fancy equipment. There’s the lowest barrier of entry, as you don’t need to rely on any facilities to be open to be able to do it. It’s just getting over that initial motivational inertia.”

To donate to Will and his team, visit the fundraising page here.

To find out more about Bristol Mind, visit the website here.

Missed out on this year’s AJ Bell Great Bristol Run?

Be the first to hear about when entries open for the 2025 AJ Bell Great Bristol Run by registering your interest here.