Last year, I announced I had begun running on Saturday mornings in Walsall Arboretum. Parkrun has since become a regular feature of my weekends. To date I’ve clocked up 44 runs, covering a total of 220km which otherwise wouldn’t have happened.
One of the things I love about Walsall Parkrun is the camaraderie between runners of widely differing abilities and speeds. On my second of three laps I’m often passed by well meaning front runners who cheer me on even as they wind up to their closing few hundred metres. It’s brilliant. I try to encourage those I run with and even those that pass me as though I’m standing still!
I’m not a runner. I’m simply a bloke trying to improve his overall fitness by running, but it’s becoming a little addictive.
I find myself going for runs midweek. On Sunday I cycled to Oak Park for a swim. This fitness thing is becoming a challenge I relish because there is no end point. I have no goals. I’m doing this because it’s good for me and I feel good about it, not because I have a target weight to achieve (I’ve stopped weighing myself) or a cholesterol number which is important (I no longer have all the symptoms which sent me to the doctor in the first place, so I assume things are settling down of their own accord) and I most certainly don’t have a clothes size I’m trying to hit. I just like doing it, and as long as I do I’ll keep trying. [I will, of course, have a check up to ensure I’m getting fitter not fatter at some point in the future, but the important thing is I no longer worry about it.]
On Wednesday 23rd July I ran the West Bromwich Harriers 5K. It was warm and a little humid and I didn’t run very quickly but again it was a run which required two laps. This time, as I finished my first, the leaders were passing me (uphill!) at speed completing their second. That felt good. At my halfway point, they were only just passing me. Maybe my pace was improving. More probably they’d slowed down due to the heat but I’ll wait and see what my time looks like.
On Sunday 7th September I’ll be competing in the City of Birmingham 10K – the first time this event has been run, and set in the beautiful landscape of Sutton Park. Two weeks later I’m running 10K again in Walsall. I’m hoping at least one of these will give me a better time than my first ever 10K a month ago in Aldridge. Sometime in September I’m on course to complete my 50th Parkrun and receive a snazzy red shirt. I cannot adequately explain my innate desire to achieve this.
The moral of this story is, I believe, just to do what you can. Everything else seems to have dropped into place and last Saturday I ran the Parkrun 5K in my fastest ever time. That’s a goal I was happy to beat, although it now means I have to go faster to beat it again. It’s enough to keep me running in circles.
Blatant appeal to people’s better natures – I’m running the Birmingham 10K for charity because I think Cancer Research deserves support and I’m fairly sure I can finish this race so I won’t be letting anyone down regardless of my time. You can support me here if you wish.