Walking at parkrun after a double hip replacement has helped Paul Fulbrook to get active again and it’s ideal exercise for Otto, his Border Collie pup, too.
I started parkrunning in 2015 after I’d seen an advertisement in my local paper for the Couch to 5k programme leading up to attending a parkrun. As my age increased and my waistline grew, I felt that the free parkrun was just the incentive that I needed.
I always found the other parkrunners very friendly and I invariably found someone of a similar pace to me to jog along behind.
Unfortunately, my body was already starting to fail as osteoarthritis took hold and it wasn’t long before my pace started slowing and the weekly effort became too much.
After a long wait, I eventually managed to get both my hips replaced but my consultant warned against running, playing football, lifting heavy weights and several other activities that could cause impact damage to the ceramic bearings in my new hips.
I specifically asked the consultant about parkrun and though I was told that a very soft surface and a slow pace might be acceptable and safe, a replacement of the replacement hips would be a difficult and very expensive operation. However, I was advised that walking would be a good overall fitness exercise for me.
I did not consider re-engaging with parkrun as it seemed to me that walking around at the back of the field would only stop the willing volunteers from going home at a sensible time and I would very much be in everyone’s way.
Then, last year my niece, Mirella, came over from Brisbane to help with the Commonwealth Games and whilst staying with us suggested that we go to the local parkrun. I was a bit dubious, but she assured me that lots of people participate at parkrun by walking only. As she was so keen and assured me that I would not be on my own, I harnessed up my dog and off we went.
I could not have been more surprised. There was a Tail Walker called Carole who laughingly assured me that I could not be the last as she would take that honour (she even waited for me whilst I stopped to collect the ‘gift’ that my dog bestowed upon the pathway). There were several other people that I could see who were also intending to walk the distance, albeit some walking more briskly than I, or combining walking and jogging.
As a result of the friendly reception I received, I decided to try again and have now been several times. I get lots of encouragement from the other parkrunners on the course, particularly when they come past on their second lap. There is also some friendly rivalry amongst the back markers as we stride out. I have promised my family that I will not try any jogging myself, but it is tempting.
My re-homed Border Collie pup, Otto, absolutely loves his Saturday mornings at parkrun and ensures that I get a move on! We have even been back to the course during the week to practice close walking at heel for the parts where there will be overtaking parkrunners.
From a position of only being able to walk short distances and with a wheeled walking aid a few years ago I am so happy to be able to walk freely again. Though I only pace briskly on the Saturday morning sessions I am pleased if I can manage to get near a 50-minute finishing time. A sneaky look backward on the one straight stretch, in order to see how far I am ahead of Carole helps!
Paul Fulbrook and Otto
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