In praise of…ParkRun

Since 1981 my exercise of choice has been running. Until I was 24 I hated running anything longer than 400 metres – this included cross country, my introduction to which involved wading across the river Rhymney close to my school in Cardiff. Rugby training at university started with laps of the pitches or a run around the Town Moor  Only in my final year I realised that something had changed and I was overtaking most of the others during the final mile.

In 1981, after 30 odd months of hospital residencies, possibly the least healthy environments, I found myself working in general practice – a stressful shock to the system – plus living with my parents for 6 months, giving my mother an opportunity to feed me and the pounds began to pile on.

What to do? I took myself to a quiet, straight flat road close to my parent’s home, parked my dark green Triumph TR7 and set out on a “run”. After 200 yards or so I had to stop, clearly fitness had deserted me, or me it. There started the “hobby”. Every evening after work I parked up, chose a point that I could see, a tree, a gate or a telegraph pole and ran towards it, when I could achieve that non-stop I ran back to the car. Next time I upped the distance. Six months later I had moved to a house in Peterborough where the flatlands encouraged running and was managing 3 to 4 miles a few times a week. The solitude of living alone in a new town meant there was little to distract me and the habit became set. As winter came and went I was doing 6 miles, 4 times a week and had a place in the 1982 London Marathon. Unfortunately my first running injury meant that I had to withdraw and was never fit enough or lucky enough to get a place until the year 2000 when I ran London for the first time.

Running for me, organised runs excepted, half marathons and 10Ks, was a solitary exercise, non-competitive and above all a chance to unravel the mental spaghetti after a day’s work.

In 2013 we moved to rural West Cork which is very hilly and my running took on another dimension, more challenges and more injuries. Then a couple of years ago I read about “Park Run” that was free, took place every Saturday morning, seemed to be well organised and welcomed runners (and walkers) of all shapes, sizes and abilities. The next Saturday I turned up at Rineen in Castlehaven to join a welcoming collection of athletes. The course at Rineen is different from many Park Run courses it is run on forest trails and paths and apparently has one of the largest altitude differences in Ireland going from sea-level up hills and back again.

Unfortunately because of other commitments (of which more next week) I can’t run every week but I’m up past 50 odd runs and looking forward to reaching 100 this year.

My advice, go on give it a try, I guarantee you won’t be the fastest, or the slowest…and it’s Free for Everyone for Ever.

Here the website link

2020/4

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