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News - 9th July 2019

Proving that I can

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Karen Murphy was a successful amateur runner, winning numerous medals and starting her own running club. 
 
However, after suffering two strokes, Karen had to regain and rebuild her fitness and health despite being faced with serious mobility challenges.
 
Karen tells us how walking and volunteering at parkrun proved to be a catalyst for her journey back to health, and that of her husband, and how she has shown that anything is possible!

 

I first took up running after having my family, my then husband was based at RAF Marham and so in order to get fit I started a women’s only running club which I ran for 11 years for the village locals and RAF wives.

 

I was very sporty and used to compete in orienteering and other running events and my personal best at the half marathon is 1 hour 18 minutes (1985). All my running medals are now buried with family or RAF friends who lost their lives in service.

 

I walked my first parkrun at Chester in May 2018 after recovering from two strokes, which had left my left side very weak especially with walking and general mobility.

 

Until then I was being told you can’t do this, you can’t do that, and I thought to myself, I’ll give you “you can’t”.

 

So I walked slowly at the back of the group, the volunteers kept me going with their motivation, they were willing me to get to the finish, and finish I did!

 

After completing that first parkrun at Chester I realised how important it was to have someone along the course to motivate you to keep going; to see a smiling face, to hear someone say a funny thing that helps you go that extra step. That is why I volunteer.

 

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I want to inspire others taking part; to smile, be bright (even when I’m tired inside or the weather is cold), so the sun will always try to come out, and I like to encourage the runners by telling them; “you can do it”, “you’re doing so well”, “be proud of yourself” and “you’re doing great”.

 

After having my stroke and starting parkrun, I also changed my lifestyle and my diet, cutting down on sugars and my weight went down from 13st to 11st 3lbs, learning to cook meals from fresh.

 

For me, parkrun is a real family affair; my husband had been diagnosed as type two diabetic and was put on medication. He decided he would work at his fitness and improve his diet to try to get off medication, he followed the same lifestyle choices as me and began to run parkrun.

 

His health improved so much that he was able to come off the medication and reduce his weight too.

 

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On top of that, both my brothers, my sister and other family members all parkrun from Chorley and St Helens in the north-west to as far as Australia where my eldest brother now lives. parkrun really is for everyone and now Saturday mornings are the best day of the week for me.

 

In my opinion, the parkrun practice is brilliant, and parkrun should be prescribed by GPs in all practices as it’s just such a wonderful fun event.

 

You don’t have to run it, you can jog or walk it or volunteer like what I do mostly – you still have that walk to and from your post and the jumping up and down and I can do it despite being left with a disability on my left side and chronic back pain.

 

Be positive. Love parkrun.

 

Karen Murphy

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