I was not massively overweight (not that I believed that) but I always had a dream to run. I had never liked running, but as an adult being 127kg, I was never going to enjoy any exercise. Even at school I was overweight and never enjoyed exercise. In August 2012, I began my weight loss journey and lost 47kg in 12 months. I moved to Australia in March 2014.
I bought myself a treadmill in 2016, determined to achieve my dream. I’m not going to lie, I hated the very first run (following couch to 5 k) and it seriously nearly killed me. I was so unfit, but it was a start.
My best friend in the UK is a parkrunner and suggested I go along. At my very first parkrun, I was so scared. This was not helped by the fact I had depression and MAJOR social anxiety. I had to approach the Run Director on the day and ask what I had to do with my barcode. To most, this would not be an issue but to me it meant I worried about it and I did not sleep the night before. The thought of having to speak to people and seeing so many parkrunners. I was a mess. I remember thinking to myself “Wow, how can anyone stand up and talk to 300 people?!”
Fast forward 12 months and I ran PB of 32 minutes and 24 seconds! I was so proud of myself but then a disaster struck. I had a massive asthma attack (not at parkrun) and I was minutes away from being on a ventilator in ICU!
I left parkrun for a little while after to give myself chance to recover. On my first run back I pushed myself too hard and I had pain in my right knee because I hadn’t warmed up or trained. I ended up with up with not a bad time of 35 minutes, however I had a meniscus tear on my right knee, so I was out of running again for a while and if I am brutally honest, I have not run since but I promise I will.
This is where the most amazing journey for me began. One of our Run Directors left and I had become really good friends with all the current Run Directors so (after a few wines) I felt confident enough to say to my Run Director friends that I could take on that roll. The next morning however, my anxiety hit maximum levels but I thought to myself “I can do this!”
The morning of my very first run as Run Director, you would not believe how I felt, well not unless you have suffered from anxiety. I was so close to tears before the run briefing. I wanted to run away and hide, but I had the support of my now amazing Run Director friends and parkrun family. I got through it and I have now beat my anxiety and that is genuinely down to parkrun. No matter how scary something may be at the time it can turn into something amazing.
I’m still not running but it is not always about that.
parkrun has taught me more than I ever imagined possible.
Being a Run Director and being able to volunteer, I know I can make other people feel just like I do about parkrun.
parkrun really saved me and my life!
Lake Joondalup parkrunner
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