News - 2nd September 2020
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Jog Your Memory

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Running, for me, is rehab. Exercise has great benefits for everyone, of course, but I have post-concussion syndrome. That’s what they call it when you have a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), and the symptoms just won’t quit. Exercising with a TBI is a balancing act, though.  Aerobic exercise helps the healing. It triggers your body to release brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which helps cognition in general, and is believed to encourage the development of new connections between brain cells . Those new connections could take the place of the damaged ones. Great, but there’s a catch. Exercise also increases many people’s TBI symptoms. So the trick is to exercise, but not so much as to make yourself more ill.

 

I had dealt with this by walking at first and slowly working up to jogging through a couch to 5k program. What I needed now was a group to run with; to help me keep moving through the winter months,  but without an atmosphere where I would feel pressure to do more than was advisable.

 

parkrun was perfect. Runners and walkers did just what they needed to do – speed ahead or take a break, be focused or have a chat. There was room for everything. Many runners waited at the finish line for everyone to finish the route, cheering and extending the invitation to go for coffee together afterward. These people were really in it for each other; for all of us.

 

Through the winter the good humour just kept going. It didn’t matter how cold it got, parkrunners showed up for each other. Various groups took over volunteer duties to let the habitual volunteers run more often; runners dressed up to mark special occasions (St. Patrick’s day was a treat).  They even welcomed my dog, joining his best pal as a Barkrunner.

 

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Advised by parkrunners, I topped up my running wardrobe for winter (running cleats are wonderful BTW) and I spent Saturday mornings with this community of fun-loving people. In the end I volunteered as much as I run, and it did the trick – I kept running right through the winter. And what’s more, it wasn’t so bad!

 

Our events paused in March, and now fall is only a few weeks away, bringing with it and sadness that we aren’t yet meeting to parkrun together. I’ll keep running, though, and logging virtual parkruns, knowing you’re all out there, all over the country, all over the world, doing the same.

 

Liz McBryan

Chain of Lakes parkrunner

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