I didn’t start parkrun with the intention of losing weight, I did it to improve my fitness.
I was 33, weighed 20 stone and considered myself to be a little overweight. But as I played five-a-side football every week I thought that running 5k would be easy. My sister had done parkrun before so I went with her the first time and stopped halfway around. It took me three attempts to finish my first parkrun.
Unknown to me at that time I was really unhealthy. The weight that I was carrying was making me feel out of breath whenever I tried to do anything, from walking down the street to swimming a length of the pool on holiday with my nieces. In reality I couldn’t do a lot when I played football; I mainly just stood around. I could not walk down to the shops, and always took the car everywhere.
After not completing parkrun the first time, everyone was so nice and supportive that I felt I had to go back and try again. On my second try I got two-thirds in and stopped, but again everyone was so supportive that it made me more determined to complete the next one, which I did. Completing that first parkrun was so energising that I wanted to do it again straight away.
Before my first completed parkrun, I felt determined to get around for everyone who had supported me to that date, especially my sister, her partner, the Event Director at the time who knew me as a 15-year-old, and every one else who stayed around at the end to cheer me in. It was amazing and is one of my best running moments to this day, and I feel so lucky to have these people as friends now.
Over the past five years I have done more than 200 parkruns, and I have become a totally different person. I am a lot more confident in myself, the way I look, and what I can do. In 2017 alone I ran five half marathons, three of which were sub-1:55. and multiple 10k races including six in six weeks. I have a place for the London Marathon this April and also the Grizzly (a 20 mile multiple terrain run) in March so running for longer distance are the aims for the first part of next year. I’m also aiming to reduce my parkrun time to less than 20 minutes, my 10k time to under 45 minutes and my half marathon time to quicker than 1:45. It is great that the local athletics club and Forest of Dean parkrun are closely linked, and joining the athletics club has helped me improve and add extra miles.
Most importantly, my increased fitness levels mean that I can do a lot more, whether that be playing around with my nieces or running around the house sorting things out. I also find going out for a run is a great way to de-stress and I have certain friends who I run with where we can all just let everything out whilst pounding the miles. My football mates would say it has made me run more on the football pitch, but that I still don’t pass the ball!
We have a closed Facebook group for parkrunners affected by obesity to share advice, tips and stories related to parkrun. If you’d like to join, please click here.
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