“Saturday was my tenth parkrun!
Yep, you read that right! Imagine, until this time year I had never ran, (except reluctantly to catch a bus or in sports lessons way back in school!) I didn’t know how to, I had poor self esteem because of my shape and size.
I was however motivated to learn, as an attempt to ward off SAD (seasonal depression, which was pressing in very hard last November).
I found and downloaded the wonderful NHS coachto5k (C25K) – it’s free – and basically taught myself to run. (Editor’s note: coachto5k is an initiative from the National Health Service in the UK.)
It wasn’t easy … I remember the very first time I went to the gym at our swimming centre and stood on the treadmill and ran (slowly) … the programme’s strength is that it introduces the novice to interval running (walk, run, walk, run etc) slowly increasing the running intervals and decreasing the amount of walking each time.
I stuck at it – going to the gym three times a week for two months! I was determined to give it my best shot! Key for me was that I trusted the app, and learned to ignore and finally switch off the inner voice that told me ‘you can’t do this!’
Fast forward to the end of January this year and I could run for 30 minutes without stopping! That was a massive breakthrough moment for me! I added minutes (still on the treadmill) until I could run 5km… and then, golly, I had to learn to run off of the treadmill.
That wasn’t easy either – I transitioned by going to our indoor running track and went back to week 5 of C25K and took it from there! That worked, and in late March it was then time for me to brave the world outside – only I faced horrible slippery winter conditions. Yikes! I invested in spiked running shoes and from that point there was no stopping me. I drove to the park, ran 1km. Two days later I ran round the park twice. Next time I got a lift to the park and ran home. That was 2.5km. Another time I ran half way across Ruissalo (an island just outside Turku) to meet my husband who was walking the dogs from the other direction, and together we walked back to the car.
We don’t have a parkrun in Turku (yet!) but I signed up, and on Saturday 21st April I caught the very early morning coach to Tampere (2 hours north of here) to run my first parkrun. My only aim was a) to find the start! and b) run the whole way without stopping! My hope was that I would complete it within an hour. I succeeded – way beyond my expectations – running the 5km in under 45 minutes! (42.07). Please understand I don’t run fast or elegantly but I love it.
Yesterday was my tenth parkrun. (My ninth in Tampere). My time hasn’t improved much … (Editor’s note – we think it has!) I ran the course this week in 41.26 (a minute slower than the week before!) … but I loved it. It was a beautiful run in the loveliest of winter conditions. Cold yes, but wonderful.
One of the most wonderful things about having gone up to Tampere for the parkrun is the new friends I’ve made – I call them my parkrun family. It’s the most inclusive, supportive group of internationally minded people I’ve met in Finland! I love going there.
There are now three parkruns in Finland. Sadly Turku isn’t one of them, but that means I can keep going to Tampere … and in December my plan is to get to the parkrun in Helsinki (also 2h away from here)… anyone want to join me?!”
Almost 1,700 communities worldwide are now home to parkrun events every Saturday and Sunday, and just like the variety of parkrun courses, parkrunners come in all different shapes and sizes, ages and experiences, coming together every week for a walk, jog or run, followed by a coffee and a chat. Whilst man’s best friends, the four-legged parkdogs…
Globally parkrun continues to grow at a rapid pace, with this year welcoming two new countries to the parkrun family, Malaysia and Germany, and more recently, reaching the 5th million person to register for parkrun. But closer to home in the Nordics, we have also reached some important milestones which show how parkrun is…