I Went Back To Parkrun…And Here’s What I Learned
On Saturday morning the alarm went off at 7am and I quietly got out of bed, made myself a coffee, and sat in my running gear thinking about how much I had missed going to park run on a Saturday morning.
It had actually been 19 months since I last had use for my barcode, and well over a year since running my last structured 5K…I ran a 5K in my underground car park on the day I should have been running the London Marathon back in April 2020.
So was I ready to come back?
Are we ever?
I knew I wanted to be back among other runners, I knew I wanted to challenge myself, I knew I wanted to rekindle my relationship with running…and I wanted to see where my fitness was at, because despite not running…I have been swimming, cycling, and CrossFitting my way through pandemic.
So how did it go?
I arrived at Wanstead Flats parkrun to find two of my fav people, The Happiness PT Mollie Millington, and my client and friend Rebecca O’Donnell which was great for my pre run nerves.
It was a beautiful sunny morning, and on this the 2nd week back for this event, the atmosphere was lovely with just short of 500 runners, and a team of around 10 volunteers.
My plan was to run as much as I could but feel no way about walking if I needed to.
The first part of the course I always go off a bit too fast as I try and settle into the run. I did go a little too fast, but as we turned into “the avenue” well at least that’s what it feels like I had found my pace.
We had a very short shower which was a lovely treat in fact, and the ground was still muddy in places from the previous weeks rain, but nothing too problematic.
I didn’t bring headphones, so simply had my thoughts to keep me company.
There was probably a bit more walking than I would have liked, but I got lost in my thoughts and was simply enjoying the mornings treat of nature and being outside.
Rebecca overtook me a little way into lap 2, she was doing a structured run walk strategy coming back from a broken ankle, and she was looking strong.
As we got to the last 10 minutes or so of the route, I felt like I wanted to run again, and I overtook a few folks in my attemopt to try and get under 45 minutes.
I missed out on that by a bit, but I was happy with my finish time.
Which was actually better than my last parkrun outing at Hackney Marshes where I registered a 51.37 time…so I am pleasantly surprised with my performance.
I think the things I learned mainly from my first trip back is that…
- I really do love parkrun
- I am fine with run walk as a strategy
- I love seeing other people enjoy the sport of running
- I love being in nature
- There really is no need to put pressure on myself
I was looking at my stats this morning, I have done 88 parkruns, my best time was 31.45 and my slowest was 53.27.
I have taken part in 11 different events, including one overseas in Cape Town…Hackney Marshes is my most popular choice, followed by Wanstead Flats (which I see as my home run) and then Mile End.
My first ever parkrun was in Wimbledon in 2008…they handed out metal tags and I never knew back then how popular the whole thing would become.
One of my fav parkrun memories was doing Bushy parkrun in 2015 to celebrate my 50 run milestone, joined by Nell McAndrew for a bit, just off the back of our joint appearance on ITVs This Morning with my 5 weeks to 5K programme.
I plan to hit my 100 runs before the year is out, meaning I will have to be more committed than ever to getting up, lacing up, and getting to the start line.
It feels symbolic, it feels like a milestone, and for a short while running that course I felt like myself again.
Thank You parkrun for all you do.
PS….that is a super old photo, for some reason I can’t upload new photos to my blog which needs a complete overhaul.
PPS. Looking for a bit of extra mojo to focus on your health and wellbeing? Why not join my VIP membership The Wobbly Bits Club
PPS…or if looking to get up to the 5K distance my 5 weeks to 5K programme