I am sure that is a question that we have asked ourselves on occasions, especially on a run when we have not been very fit or if weather conditions are against us.
For me it all started when I went to grammar school 56 years ago in England and we had a games afternoon once a week when the option at my school was either rugby or cross country running and as I did not have the physique for rugby the decision was made for me.
Those were the days when schoolteachers turned up on Saturdays to organize the cross country matches that we had against other schools. I was never outstanding but always made the team to run in the mud and rain that was a feature of an English winter. Having a teacher, still alive today, who competed in the 1962 Empire Games against Peter Snell, was always a motivation. We competed in diverse places including Epsom Downs, home of the Derby horse race where I recall that our changing rooms were stables (not being used by horses at the time)! What a bleak place that is in winter! This then was why I started running and I am sure that a lot of other people started the same way
After school I tried other sports including squash which I became good at , but it was running that I turned back to, joining my local athletics club where the aforementioned schoolteacher was president. Never a track runner, I ran with the road runners,training on Tuesday,Thursday and then the traditional long run on Sunday. Thinking about it, runners like to follow routine and although runs can be taken at any time, joining a club certainly helped with discipline.
Discipline is also necessary when entering a marathon and for me, running the London in spring each year meant that effort was needed throughout the winter which although not as cold as Canada was a lot wetter. I found that the self motivation needed also helped in my work life. Most of us have ‘one of those days’ at work but the self motivation needed for running always got me through.
Every year I used to go from England to Barbados for a holiday and ‘coincidentally’ was there for their Run Barbados series of runs. It was on one of these trips that I met someone who later became my wife. This wasn’t why I ran but it did have a benefit! For anyone wanting to run in hot weather this is a great place and the races take place at the end of November/start of December each year.
As my wife is Canadian I moved from England and only heard about parkrun from afar until I took part when I returned for brief trips. Hopefully they will become as popular in Canada though it looks as though it will take some time.
Why do I run? Fitness, aiming for those pbs whatever the age, habit. I am currently on a streak which at the time of writing is 199 days. The thought of missing a day and then starting again is motivation to keep going!!
The good thing about running is that it can be done alone or in groups. It can be a short jog or a stiff long run and with the age bands in races it is easy to compare yourself with similar runners which is not possible in many sports.
For me therefore running started as it was compulsory. This then turned to competitiveness not that I was ever good enough to win anything and then it was something I enjoyed. Another person I run with has a t shirt that says “running sucks” which makes you think. How many times have you been out on a long run and all you want to do is stop. What makes us carry on? For many it is a social occasion or just a way of maintaining fitness and keeping weight down. I still do it to compete and have a completely unrealistic hope that I can achieve pbs that would beat those that I achieved 30 years ago. Well I can always hope!
Now I have added another reason for the running habit and that is the satisfaction that I get from being involved with parkrun and seeing people who would not necessarily call themselves “runners”, come out and run on a weekly basis. Even last week when we had snow and not pleasant running conditions people came out to run though. Unfortunately as the course is not cleared in winter we will have to close soon until April. This will at least give North bay runners a chance to become parkrun tourists!
David Holloway, Event Director North Bay parkrun
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