The start of our home parkrun. Not a bad place to run!
Last week I ran my 30th parkrun. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with parkrun. I do really enjoy going, and certainly after I’ve been I feel glad I have. My home run is beautiful, it’s at a National Trust Estate and running through the woods is amazing. The downside is that it also is rated as one of the hardest in the country as it is so hilly, and we get a lot of parkrun tourists. Now I am not saying I don’t like the tourists, I am proud that they come and get to share what I get to have every week. It’s just, it gets so very busy! The first hill is down a lane and when it’s wet I am afraid I’ll slip, then it’s onto a steep gravel up hill, followed by an even steeper uneven gravel downhill that goes on forever to the river at the bottom. This bit gets narrow and I am always afraid I’ll fall. This run was worse as the sun was shining between the trees and I struggled to see where I was going. I’m conscious that I’ll slow other runners down, so I try to keep to the side, often running on more bumpy ground to do so. So, in the summer months running down this bit is even harder than normal because there is a much larger group of runners out, in the winter I feel a bit safer.
It took me a long time to get to my first parkrun. I heard they were really friendly and that you could, “walk, run or jog”, but I still thought I’d be last, and show myself up. The first time I ran, I knew I could comfortably complete the distance, but that I’d definitely have to walk some of it. I enlisted my middle son, (now a super keen runner who knocks out 10k ridiculously fast) into coming with me. He said he would and was happy to run with me, but as we started, I could see him itching to get away. I told him to go and so he did after a little encouragement. I didn’t see him again until the finish line! Meanwhile I wasn’t fast enough to be at the front and not slow enough to be at the back… at one point I was worried I’d get lost in the woods as there seemed to be a spot down by the river with no signs and marshals. It was fine though. I got back and finished, feeling super proud of myself.
I’ve since gone on to improve my time, I’m not the fastest, but as they say, it isn’t a race, I’m just running against myself and I like that. The only trouble is, I am quite competitive (mainly with myself) and I get quite disappointed if I don’t get a personal best each week, Now logically, I know that I couldn’t do that week on week anyway, there is only so fast anyone can go, no matter how fast they are, but some weeks I’ve been a little bit slower, and then a bit slower again and it knocked my confidence. Combining that with lots of visitors made it easy to miss the odd week, and suddenly I realised I hadn’t been to a parkrun since the beginning of the summer.
As well as being a keen runner, my son is also happy to marshal at parkrun, and has logged many weeks as a #hivishero but again hasn’t done much over the summer. This week he suggested marshalling and checking the roster I saw that they were in need of another time keeper, so he quickly signed up. This was great, because although he offered to ride his bike there I decided I’d drive him, giving him a few extra minutes in bed and giving me a reason to go and run. It was cooler, being September, and less busy which was nice, although I did have to give myself a stern talking to several times regarding times. Eventually I settled into a rhythm and realised that getting a PB didn’t really matter, I was out, I was running, I was enjoying myself so whatever time I came in, it was better than staying at home on the sofa!
The best bit? Tea and cake with my son in the park cafe at the end!
Thanks for reading!
I'm smiling! Proof I do enjoy being out once I get there!
I’m not sure that I really like running. Well that isn’t exactly true. I do like running, in fact I love running. Especially after I’ve been out and I’m feeling all good about myself. But the getting out bit is hard. I think the actual running is okay, although I often have this little voice in my head which questions what I am doing. It often asks me why I’m running, reminds me that people looking will be laughing at me and of course that I am slower than everyone else in the world. If I can push through, which I usually do, I get to a point at about 3 miles, where something clicks and it suddenly becomes easier. Maybe it isn’t easier, maybe it’s just because I no longer have a choice, I am aware that my legs have taken me a certain distance and short of phoning someone to come and get me (which I have never done) I have no choice but to run home again. Or finish the race, but you get my point.
On the other side, I can’t say it’s just running. I love yoga class, but if you gave me a good excuse I’d find it easy not to go. I think it’s more that when I have things on my agenda it feels like I have to tick them all off my list as quickly as I can so I can clear them. It means I feel like I am rushing a lot and always on the go, sometimes it feels like I don’t really enjoy what I am doing because I am looking at what I need to be doing next.
So I’m working on mindfulness, I’m trying to be more present, but it’s hard. Who knew life would be such a challenge at times? There always seems to be something I need to learn or improve on.
Does anyone else struggle with motivation for doing things they enjoy?
Freedom Racing on the Cornish cliffs - I'm number 116.
Over the years I’ve classed myself as many things, a wife, a mum, an employee… They are all things that I am proud of, that I value, and things that I think I do well, but I guess over time, it is hard to define yourself as someone or something without relying on others for that definition. To be any of those things, I always need someone else. I didn’t really have many hobbies and for a while I lost sight of who I was. It has become clear that to have something that is just mine is actually really important.
On Saturday I ran a race. It was 10 miles, which gave me quite some time on the trails in the woods by myself. I don’t run with others, which can be a good thing as I get plenty of time to myself to think, but also it can be lonely, especially when the going gets tough and there is no one to help you along. I didn’t find it as mentally challenging as I do some races. I’ve often said that my body runs better than my mind does. Sometimes it is hard to get to the start line, let alone over it and as this one was quite long I doubted myself. Especially as the first mile or so was a long drag up a hill. There were a lot of hills, and only the front runners ran these, back where I was we dropped to a fast walk. Rather than panic I just ran and before I knew it I’d settled into a nice rhythm. Some of the course was on my home parkrun course, so I knew it quite well, maybe this helped? I thought it would make it worse as every time I thought I knew where we were going we veered off in another direction. The end was possibly the most challenging as we ran past the finish at nine and a half miles and had to do another loop in the other direction before coming back the other way to cross the line! That was hard!
While it was a challenging race, I was immensely proud of running it. No one else got me round that course. I could have been at home on the sofa, watching the TV. It was a rainy Saturday so there were a lot of other things I could have done instead. I chose to run 10 miles in rain and mud and I rubbed a blister on my heel. I think I need some new trail trainers. But as I was running it dawned on me, I might not be the fastest, I might not be the fittest, but I am a runner now. That definition belongs just to me and others like me, it doesn’t rely on someone else to make me a runner. By putting my shoes on and getting out the door, no matter how long or short a run, I am doing something that I couldn’t do a year or so ago. To those of you who choose to run, no matter how fast or slow, just remember that you are always lapping those people who stay on their couch!
Thanks for reading!