From the day Annie Robertson registered with parkrun, to the day she first went along, was more than seven years.
Here she tells us how it was certainly worth the wait, and why nobody should be afraid of just coming along to see what happens.
When I first signed up to parkrun, my motivation was to be outdoors with similar-minded people, but getting up early for physical activity was simply not a priority. My general attitude to organised physical activity wasn’t great either – I’d preferred to do things on my own.
I was active in school and when I first started work I used to attend a gym, and I’d go to nightclubs and dance the night away. Then I married a farmer and had children and life was very busy with both the farm and my babies. Fitness wasn’t a priority and I wasn’t a priority; all my focus was on the farm and my children. Life became a never-ending yo-yo of trying to be healthier.
It didn’t take long for my back, knees and ankles to suffer, and gaining weight reduced my participation in anything physical. I was lazing around, watching TV, playing on the computer, reading books, and especially I loved my bed! I did not want to get up in the mornings, in fact it was not only an effort to get out of bed, but it was also a physical challenge to ‘heave’ myself into a position so that I could get out of bed.
In 2021 my GP suggested bariatric surgery, which is performed when you have serious health problems because of your weight. Being overweight is a genuine disability, and functioning with a disability is a challenge requiring physical, emotional and psychological strength. I was happy to go ahead with the surgery.
Before long I wanted to get outdoors and do more, so I decided it was time to fulfil my plan to attend a parkrun. I was waiting for it to start up again after lockdown because I was ready. Parkville parkrun in Melbourne is close to where I live and I can easily get there.
My first parkrun was in November 2021. I met a lovely lady named Jan who was the Tail Walker. She was very supportive, made me feel welcome and part of the ‘pack’ and informed me of anything I should know. I had my own personal First Timer Welcome! Jan explained that parkrun is for everyone, no matter their age, gender, fitness level or disability.
I had such a sense of achievement after that first time that I just had to experience that feeling again, and not only that, to better my time! I was there to challenge myself, and you just can’t beat that smell and briskness of the early morning walk.
There was a time I couldn’t even make my way down the corridor to the lifts of my apartment building without stopping for a rest. And then another rest when I got to the ground floor before I even stepped outside of the building. But physical activity is now doable and enjoyable; I don’t want to sit around doing nothing all day, I want to be doing stuff now.
I’ve gained so much confidence, motivation, self-respect, fitness, and am eager to be on the go. I have no need for the medications I used to have to take, my chances of becoming a diabetic or requiring a knee replacement are now diminished, and I’m much happier. Life is so much easier and I look forward to what each day will bring. My mindset and outlook has changed, in fact my whole life has changed. I now look forward to walking every workday and my Saturday parkrun.
I no longer worry about what people think of me. As an older woman who lives alone, I live life for myself and basically do what I want and need to lead a fulfilled life for my own satisfaction.
My first goal at a parkrun was to complete the 5k in less than one hour, which I have now achieved. I will continue to work at bettering this time and, who knows, one day I may even attempt running it! My next goals are to receive my 25 milestone shirt and do some volunteering.
For anyone who is yet to come to parkrun, please consider coming along. You don’t have to walk or run or volunteer, just have a look and see what happens. You never know where it may lead.
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