Recommended to make some lifestyle changes through diet and exercise, Heather Cornes completed her first parkrun in March 2020 on International Women’s Day. Undeterred by lockdown, she has continued to exercise and is reaping the many benefits.
I can honestly say other than club swimming over 40 years ago, I’ve not really had any interest in jogging, the gym or exercise of any sort until the last couple of years. I felt I was fairly healthy and active enjoying walking and gardening in day to day life. I worked full time as a primary teacher, before more recently taking on ‘Grandparent’ duties.
As my Dad had suffered a fatal heart attack aged 59 yrs and my Mum developed type 2 diabetes in her early 70’s, followed by a heart attack, I felt it important to take care of my health.
In the winter of 2016/17 I developed pneumonia, ending up in hospital twice, having complications the second time. It took a few months to fully recover and be able to walk upstairs without being out of breath. In March 2018, I triggered for pre-type 2 diabetes. This was a bit of a shock as I wasn’t overweight but, as the daughter of a baker, bread, pastries and cakes were in my DNA and I have to admit had crept into my diet a bit more often than I’d realised.
My GP recommended that I take part in the Momenta Diabetes Prevention Programme which aims to support changes in lifestyle through diet and exercise over a 9 month period. One of the key goals was to exercise more such as walking, swimming or jogging using the Couch to 5K App. The challenge was on. At the beginning of 2019, although my blood sugar levels had improved there was still more changes needed.
I decided jogging was the way forward. By coincidence, at this time my son, David, had become an avid runner and was regularly completing cross country events and the local Worsley Woods parkrun. This had inspired my husband, Martin, to join in too. I planned to start the Couch to 5k programme in April 2019, as a way to train towards my first parkrun. This was also the year I turned 60 yrs.
Oh my goodness, I was so unprepared! I used a pair of my daughter’s old trainers and by the 4th session my shins and knees were in agony. Luckily, a friend who is an experienced runner gave me loads of advice and support. After many ice packs, painkillers and rest, and with new trainers, I started again at a much slower pace! With Martin joining me on every session I gained more confidence and stamina but it took until February 2020 to be able to run for 30 minutes covering a distance of around 4K. I felt that parkrun was in striking distance.
I aimed to complete my first parkrun event around Easter 2020, a couple of months before my 61st birthday. By chance we decided to run it on March 7th , which I only realised when we got to the event, was International Women’s Day. I felt this was surely a good omen!
With Martin at my side, I was nervous and excited in equal measure. The atmosphere at the starting line was really inspiring, especially as there were so many women taking part. Off we went. I didn’t care that most of the other runners passed me by, I just wanted to finish. Martin encouraged me all the way and a special memory was that our son David, an early finisher, came back to run the last half km with me too. I’d completed my first parkrun and in under 40 minutes, the goal I’d secretly set for myself.
Due to the pandemic, I haven’t been able to do another parkrun but I have continued to run once or twice most weeks and completed several (not)parkruns. During the first lockdown I also started body strength training and have built up to 2 or 3 workouts a week. This, along with running, has given both myself and Martin a great sense of achievement and a much more positive experience of life with its fluctuations at the moment.
I’m really looking forward to parkrun opening up again and would recommend this fantastic event to anyone, with the Couch to 5K programme being a great support to any novice runner (or fast walker as my son often says!).
Best of all my blood glucose levels are now within the ‘normal’ range and I can still enjoy a small slice of cake from time to time!
Whatever age or stage in life you’re at, go for it, you have so much to gain!!!
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