As a school girl, Caroline Grant took an additional GCSE just to get out of games lessons! Now, she is passionate about her running and the joys of exercising outside.
I’d looked at parkrun for years but had never done anything about it. Then, having relocated back to the North East, I thought I’d pluck up the courage to go and meet new people and parkrun seemed like a good place to do this. The closest event was the Sedgefield parkrun which is held in one of my favourite parks too, so no excuse!
I’m a passionate supporter of International Women’s Day and it felt right to venture out on that day. The first step to empowering other women is to empower yourself. It also gave me more confidence that I wouldn’t be the only “newbie.”
I loved my first parkrun, I was a bit nervous to start with, but there really was no need, everybody was so welcoming and supportive. I must have had about 10 people check I’d left a copy of my barcode in the car window (that excuses you from parking charges at this event). My only issue with the event was the hill we had to run up – twice! But, as I struggled up that hill I got the loudest cheer from one of the volunteers, he was so wonderfully supportive, it helped me dig deep and get all the way to the top! I just ended up wishing I’d tried parkrun years ago.
Sadly, that was my only parkrun as lockdown was then upon us, but I’ve kept up my running. I’ve found it to be a fabulous way to deal with the stresses of the past year.
I like running on my own, although I am looking forward to getting back to parkrun for company once a week!
The parkrun experience really helped to show me the joys of running outside and this is now my preferred option. I often link my routes to pass a telegraph pole my Grandad called his “tapping post”. He often used to walk to this telegraph pole and tap it with his walking stick before turning back for home. Tapping the post became a thing when he was poorly with suspected COVID in April, aged 104 yrs at the time (now 105 yrs). He’s in a care home which means I’ve not seen him properly for a year, though we do get to Skype.
I usually run 3 or 4 times a week. On a workday I’ll generally do 5k but at the weekend I’ll run for longer. I built up to do the virtual Great North Run last September and I’m aiming for the virtual London Marathon this year. So, lots to do to prepare for my first marathon!
The mental health benefits of running have been key for me this last year. My job can be quite stressful at times , just having that time where you are completely free is wonderful. I love being outside and seeing the seasons change, this is an extra benefit. I found during the first lockdown, in particular, that it was so quiet and nature seemed to spring to life. As a morning runner, I often get treated to some of the most spectacular sunrises.
To anyone who is thinking of getting more active or trying a parkrun I would say, “Just get out and do it!” Don’t wait for tomorrow, start your journey today. The physical and mental health benefits of being active are huge and as we only get one body we need to be kind to it. Don’t worry about pace, and don’t worry about how you think you look. The running and parkrunning community is genuinely the most supportive group of people you could ever wish to meet.
Regardless of when the parkrun event can return, I will be back. parkrun helped to instil a real love and need for running in me. I’ve gone from a girl who took an extra GCSE so she could get out of games at school to someone that is so passionate about running that I’ve set up a Couch to 5k group up at work. We’re just about to take our second cohort through the programme and I’m so excited for them as they begin their running journeys.
Thank you to all involved in the parkrun community. You’re absolute legends!
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