International Adolescent Health Week


The link between athletics and good health is no secret. We have all heard that a little fresh air and moving our bodies will do us a world of good. In the last few years, there has been a dramatic increase in teenagers who run, jog or participate in athletics as part of a club. What is especially brilliant, is the increase in girls out running the streets and in athletics clubs. In years gone by, teenage girls tended to drop their sports in secondary school, but this is thankfully changing!

My name is Freya. I am fifteen years old and this year I was chosen as a youth ambassador for International Adolescent Health Week. I am so grateful to Athletics Ireland for agreeing to participate in this wonderful week of dynamic virtual events that shine a much needed light on adolescent health issues.

I want teenagers to feel comfortable sharing their health concerns, but also sharing the things they feel positively impact their health, so that others may experience the benefits too. I asked my friends who do athletics or run for pleasure why they do it, and what impact they can see it having on their mental and physical health. Here is what they had to say:

Going running is a really great way for me to boost my mental and physical health at the same time. Going for a run really helps me clear my head and gives me time to think about things uninterrupted. I listen to music and think over anything that’s bothering me and between the fresh air and exercise it helps me feel a lot better and clearer in my thoughts.

Going to athletics training is good because I have time to talk to my friends and have fun. I really enjoy it and there’s always a bit of craic in my group. we chat about our week and catch up while exercising and getting out in the fresh air. I find athletics to be great for making new friends and branching out because between 20 minute runs and strength and conditioning, there’s always something to talk (and complain) about.

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One thing I love about running is how I can set small little goals for myself that I can accomplish easily with an extra push of effort without making any long-term commitment or taking hours out of my day. I decide to run as fast as I can for the next twenty seconds, get to that lamppost at the top of the hill or do an extra quarter lap of the park, and inevitably I feel a great sense of achievement when I have done it. Running keeps me focused in the moment and stops my mind from worrying about tomorrow or next week. All I have to do is focus on taking the next step.

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I remember spending the very first lockdown down in a small village. After a week or two of adjusting to my school schedule, I started planning my running routine.  Initially, I would meet a few if any locals out running. As the weeks evolved, I noticed an increase in the number of runners.                                                                                                                                                      It has been a phenomenon here, and many people state that it’s enjoyable escapism from the ‘to-do lists’ which build over the weeks. 

There is a small village green where I go running. Yesterday after a long day of zoom calls I laced up my runners, popped in my earphones, and headed out on a run. With each lap, I felt a great sense of achievement. Nothing beats this feeling. I believe it’s what drives me to the end of my run crossing my virtual, red ribbon finish line. 

Running, I believe is addictive. Once you find a motivating playlist and running pal you’re away.  

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For more information on IAHW please feel free to visit the website at:

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