Category Archives: parkrun

It’s Not All About Me.

On Saturday I managed to get out running for the first time in ages. I was staying with my parents in West London and I had optimistically taken my running gear should I feel brave enough to test my calf out. It just so happens that on Saturday I felt confident to try it out, mainly because I’d run around with my children on Friday afternoon with no calf pain retribution. This odd little subjective measure felt like it was a green light to get out again.

As I got changed into my running gear on Saturday morning my Mum spotted me and asked if she could come running with me. I looked at my watch and worked out that I could take my Mum to the park across the road, do her walk run with her and still have time to jog up to the start of the Crane Parkrun.

Mum had kindly loaned me one of her sports bras as I had been a doofus and forgotten mine (interesting situation considering she’s an ample 36D and I’m a 32 *whisper whisper*). The least I could do now was help her with her running. We walked across the road to the park and we got jogging. We did a minute on, minute off and during the minute on I would chat to her, making sure she could still chat to me and wasn’t going to quickly. At the ten minute mark she was ready to quit but I suggested one more go, I stretched this minute to a minute and a half without telling her.

‘That was a long minute’, she said when we stopped to walk.

‘That’s because it wasn’t a minute’. She laughed and we walked for a minute. Then we jogged another minute, walked and then when we were nearing the gate I got her to keep going until we’d run another minute and a half. All told my Mum had managed 17 and a half minutes of exercise. I was thrilled for her and so so proud. My Mum is 64 and from a generation where exercise was something that men did. When she was at school she wasn’t allowed to do sport because of her asthma and when I was a teenage athlete she was always perplexed that I enjoyed running, fascinated that I wanted to train rather than stay at home. Maybe now she’ll see why I love it so much.

I walked Mum home and then headed up to Crane Park for my first Parkrun there. I joined 68 runners in a lovely park tucked away in suburban West London, an event that is shadowed by it’s much larger and more established neighbour in Bushy Park. It was a pleasure to help support a smaller event and I really enjoyed it, despite feeling the burn of having done so little running of late. I even slowed to help a young lad who had a stitch. His thanks to me was to run ahead of me in a burst of speed.

When I got home I felt the glow, not just of running but of the fact I’d been able to share running with other people for the morning. I’ve got so used to training on my own I’d forgotten how good it feels to help someone who is getting into running or to be surrounded by the running community at Parkrun. Saturday’s running wasn’t all about me and it felt good not to be looking so inwardly, something of a bad habit of mine as a runner.

If you want more information about Crane Parkrun, perfect if you’re living in Whitton, Hanworth, Feltham, Hampton (take the 111 in the opposite direction to Bushy) or Twickenham then go to http://www.parkrun.org.uk/crane/. I also heard that they’re desperate for volunteers at the moment (they had no marshalls on the course) so if you want some good running karma then maybe try and help them out (bit far for me in South Wales but I might give them a shout when I’m next up).

P.S I managed a 23.40 5k on Saturday. So chuffed after my lack of running lately.

Parkrun

It’s a Saturday at 8.45am. The day before my thirtieth birthday. I drive down to a Cardiff supermarket and park up in the car park. I get out of the car and turn my back on the shop and follow the hoards of people heading towards the main road. Totally unsure about where I’m supposed to go, I follow the gaggle of people down some steps and onto the Taff Trail. From the top of the steps I can see a huge group of people all gathered to one side of the path. This is the start of the Cardiff Parkrun. An event that happens all over the country at 9am (9.30am in Scotland). An event where people willingly get out of bed on a Saturday morning to run 5km, or 3 miles in old money. I’m nervous, its only my third run since having Baby T but I make my way down the steps to get ready.

The people here all have their own way to get ready before Parkrun. Some are jogging up and down, some are stretching out their muscles but most people are standing around chatting. It’s a diverse group too. The age range spans from early teens, maybe younger, to people in their sixties and beyond. There are the serious runners in their club vests, the iPod runners, runners with all the gear, male runners, female runners, runners of all shapes and sizes. All with their own reason for being there. I bump into a friend of mine. Its her first Parkrun too. She’s been training for triathlon and this is almost like a training run for her.

Before long everyone is called to the start line for the 9am kick off. I nestle somewhere in the middle of the hundred plus group. We start and the crowd bustles over the start line for the 5k run along the River Taff, around the flower gardens and back to the start point. It’s a beautiful run. The first part is shaded by trees on either side of the trail. It then opens out into a park area. We’re directed around the gardens and back to the river trail.

My first Park run was on a gorgeous April morning. It was lovely and warm. My friend started to run with me but I soon told her to run on ahead. I just wanted to make it round. The 5k felt like it took forever and lots of people passed me, at one point a man pushing a buggy sprinted way ahead of me. A man with a dog on a lead also passed me. I was glad when my first Parkrun was over but it felt like an achievement after such a long time with no exercise.

I’ve now done four Parkruns. Three in Cardiff and one in Bushy Park, Teddington, close to where my parents live (an equally lovely run and the original Parkrun). Each Parkrun has been so welcoming and I’ve managed to talk to a few people when I’ve headed down there. There is a woman who is just getting back into running after being diagnosed with a heart condition for which she has had surgery. That was truly amazing. I’ve seen a girl at Bushy Park that I used to run against as a teenager. She’s also had a baby (FYI she’s still very good and was much faster than me, enough said). Lots and lots of physiotherapy colleagues. An ex Springbok rugby player who takes his two sons aged 9 and 7 with him to run each Saturday. I think most people who go down there have their Parkrun story.

The volunteers are fantastic and make sure that the events are really well organised. The website is also really good and if you’re (un)lucky enough your picture might appear on the event that you attended. There are T-Shirts for people who have made it to 25 and 50 Parkruns. I’m a long way off those marks at the moment. The best thing about it is you can make it as hard or easy as you want. For me just starting back its useful to gage how I’m improving every few weeks. People of all abilities are welcome and need not feel intimidated, it’s just about exercising as you feel able. I think it’s a great idea and is a fantastic way to get people exercising. The numbers at each Parkrun continue to grow and its amazing to think that every week thousands of people are going for a run at the same time (except if you live in Scotland. Why do they do it half hour later?)

So people, when are you going to do your first Parkrun? Go to www.parkrun.com to find your nearest Parkrun and join the running revolution.

Parkrunning