Hate is a strong word but many times during a run I find myself hating it. When I’ve picked a hilly route on a day when I am low in energy, when I’d made peace with running in the rain only to realise once out the door it was blowing a gale too, when I realise I’ve got the wrong pants on and they are stuck in the wrong place; all these can very quickly lead to hating the experience.
I go through phases of running but I am trying to make it a more regular pastime; its main positive is how easy and faff free it is compared to almost any other sport. It is perfect for a quick 30 minutes during the day. It is easy to pack a pair of trainers when away on holiday or with work, and minute for minute it is one of the most effective calorie burning activities you can do. When trying to find spare minutes rather than hours to exercise during the day running can definitely be the answer.
I speak of running but I rarely look like what I would deem a runner to look like when in action. I recently caught site of myself in a shop window as I ‘ran’ past. I genuinely looked like someone who had only recently learnt to walk again, I was so slow and stiff, plodding along at a pace that could generously be called a slow jog. This initially was a reason for the hatred of it; why didn’t I look like all the Lycra clad, lithe runners sprinting along the pavements; was I a running fraud?
I have to make a constant effort to be kind to myself and give self praise for just being out there, having a go. So much of running is focused on distance and time and I think that can be a real psychological barrier to enjoyment for many people.
With the above in mind, I had heard about Parkrun from friends who spoke, almost evangelically, about getting up early on a Saturday for a mass participation run. I scoffed and claimed it was too early, too far and that it wouldn’t be worth bothering if I walked any of it.
Readers; I was worn down. Friends who have been Parkrun fanatics for years – so much so that they were recently part of the organising committee that set up a new Parkrun at Sale Water Park in Manchester invited us to visit. There was no excuse; having signed up to a 10km run in Bristol and a half marathon in Scotland later in the year, it was time to Parkrun.
There is no denying that for those of us used to a Saturday lie in it is early but I found everyone’s claims to be true; it bookmarks the start of the weekend, running 5km before 10am earns definite internal smug points and it makes you part of the Parkrun community. The community aspect is something that I hadn’t really thought about before participating but I would now argue is one of its biggest successes. As someone who lives in a city, doesn’t have children and works a 40+ hour a week job my interaction with my local community is not as good as I would like it to be. By regularly going to my local Parkrun, and in time, volunteering at it makes me feel part of something.
Do I enjoy the running? Not yet, it’s still a struggle getting around 5km but I’m ‘running’ all the way and I’m not last, so maybe, just maybe, the running breakthrough is on the way.
PS: I recently completed the Bristol 10km and I confess the overall experience was pretty enjoyable, including a couple of kilometers of the running…