I ran my first parkrun on Saturday.
Correction, I very slowly jogged my first parkrun on Saturday. Out of probably 800 people, I was 630th. I don’t care though. I very much doubt I’ll ever care.
Hmmmm, that sounds a little negative, right? Particularly as I work for Sport Wales. I guess I should explain.
It’s about motivation. And that’s different for everyone. Some people do sport to win medals, to beat the other team or their personal best. I signed up for parkrun because I realised I just wasn’t doing enough exercise and was looking a little too much like the guy above. I figured that the distance was doable (5km) and it looked like a friendly atmosphere (and it turns out it was).
What was important was that, as I wandered up to the starting line, I saw every shape and type of person there. It made me feel at ease. There were people twice my size and people half of it, people in their 90s and some not ready for ‘big school’. Most didn’t look like runners. They looked like me (no offence) and that was so encouraging. Yes, there were hardcore runners too, ones that took half the time I did, but they were the ones that made me smile the most. A fair few of them ran around a second time, slowing to run alongside, and encourage the ones that were more tortoise than hare.
I should also point out that there were a large number of volunteer stewards lining the circuit too, and their main role seemed to be cheering people on, which they did with gusto. Such unbridled positivity was great to see, and made a change from the pressurised, tense atmosphere that can be experienced on sporting touchlines elsewhere.
And so, for me, it was a good fit. And that day, I WON. My target was to complete the course and I did just that. I felt good. Even when my 36 year old asthmatic chest wheezed and my joints ached . Even as I walked home in the cold and lashing rain.
This blog is about me, but also more widely about the importance of physical activity at the lower levels. We all know people (or ARE people) who would far rather do a sit down than a sit up. I am more active now than I ever have been, but it’s still not a lot, not really enough. I understand the battle it can be just to do a tiny bit of exercise. But doing even a tiny bit is really, really important, vital in fact. And the equation is simple:
Eating better + Moving more = Healthier you
Will my 5km jog lead to me running a marathon? Honestly, I doubt it. But will it lead to me doing another parkrun next week? Jogging home from work once in a while? Maybe getting a bit healthier in a way I can manage and keep up over time? I think it just might.