Weekends. Time is precious and can quickly slip away. So I’ve decided that joining a parkrun is a good idea. Up, out and running by 9 O’Clock on a Saturday morning prevents time from slipping away unnoticed. I say this, but so far I’ve only done two park runs.
My first run came as a shock. I’ve been doing Couch to 5K on the treadmill at home, and was getting on quite nicely, into week 4. So I thought ‘I know – I’ll do a run session on a parkrun. That will be fun’. I visualised running more easily than ever before, motivated by all the other park runners jogging along beside me in the autumn sunshine. It is true that parkrun is a social and friendly organisation. No complaints there. But I was unprepared for one shocking truth.
Running in the real world is not the same as running on a treadmill. This horrifying fact is true because:
- The ground doesn’t roll beneath your feet outside, so propelling yourself forward takes a lot more effort.
- There are hills
- There is wind
- There might also be rain
- And slippery mud
- And puddles
My first attempt at real world running found me disappointed and exhausted. As I arrived at the venue, ominous black clouds formed overhead. As we set off, a flash of lightning, a peal of thunder, and the rain fell as a wall of water. I was expecting to run for alternating intervals of three minutes and five minutes, with short walks in between. I found that I could barely run for sixty seconds. Running against wind and rain, with feet slipping in mud, had not featured in my fantasy parkrun. The course was more mud than path, and more puddles than mud. All the walkers to the rear of the group mysteriously disappeared, leaving yours truly staggering, eventually, through the finishing line in last place.
But, I decided not to be disheartened or put off. It has taken me fifty years to decide that I can, against all expectations, run. I’m not giving in. So, Sunday morning, aching but determined, I set out on a run in the real world. I went back to week 2 of Couch to 5K – running for 90 seconds at a time. And yes, I should have had a rest day. But I needed to get on with this quickly, before Fear of Failure set in.
It was hard; perhaps the hardest thing ever. But I did it. I ran and walked and ran and walked and puffed and gasped my way through it. I plodded up and down hills, and round twisty corners, avoiding tractors, cars and horses. I enjoyed the autumn morning sunshine and the glorious Somerset countryside. And I got to the end.
Exercise is good. Enjoying the challenge is even better.