The discovery of parkrun helped Jack Kelly process the grief of losing his father. That parkrun ‘buzz’ inspired him to keep going, and he’s not showing signs of stopping.
My girlfriend (who is now Mum-to-be with our first child), was really into running and inspired me to try and start, but running just didn’t seem to be for me. I wasn’t enjoying it, and I just didn’t get what the fuss was about. I tried lots of things to help, listening to podcasts/music etc., but nothing seemed to work.
Then, I tried parkrun and my whole perception of running changed.
When I first heard parkrun mentioned I thought it was literally just running around a park. I didn’t realise there were hundreds of parkrun events all over the place, a whole community worldwide.
I thought I may as well give it a go, just to see if I liked it and without wanting to sound cheesy, it was the beginning of something that would go on to change my life.
When I turned up to my first parkrun, it wasn’t at all what I was expecting. The general buzz and the community of supportive, fun people blew my mind. It was just such a friendly and encouraging environment.
Before the start, I remember being introduced, as a first timer, to the Event Director, Anne. For someone like me, who is more of a quiet person, this was really nice and made me feel very welcome.
I pushed myself really hard that first parkrun, which taught me about why you need to pace yourself as I was zonked at the end! That lesson of pacing never would have been possible if I’d been running on my own as I would have just stopped or turned around, but the challenge of wanting to complete the 5k really spurred me on.
My parkrun journey had begun.
It’s such a great feeling knowing that by 9.30am-ish on a Saturday morning, you have completed a great challenge. It sets me up for the weekend.
parkrun helped introduce me to the importance and excitement of getting fit and healthy. It was parkrun which made me fall in love with running. Before finding this outlet, I was not happy with my life, I didn’t have any focus, I wasn’t healthy, I was struggling because I didn’t have any direction and I didn’t like the environment I was in.
I found that running is a great stress reliever for me. It enables me to clear my head and it has helped me deal with some quite traumatic experiences I faced in the few years before.
I was a kid when my Dad died. I suppressed that bereavement and didn’t feel I was allowed to speak about it and say how much it hurt me or how much I was struggling. The years that followed were so challenging that everything became a mess and I didn’t care about myself anymore.
Discovering your passion and finding the perfect person for you, can change everything and it turned out it was just the change that I needed.
I started to use my passion for running to raise money for cancer and child grief charities. I have been lucky enough to raise thousands through completing marathons and other races.
I also started to talk about my experience of losing my hero at a very confusing and difficult age. It’s crazy to think it all started by meeting an amazing person, my girlfriend, who built up my courage to just get up and try a parkrun. I needed something to ignite my focus and determination. It happened to be a little Yorkshire girl and free, weekly 5k events!
Over the last five years, my run times, running knowledge and determination have kept getting stronger. Trying to take positives from lockdown and this horrible year we have had to endure, has been made a lot more doable, for me, because of running and I’ve taken part in some virtual races.
It is barely imaginable to compare where I am now to where I was seven years ago. Back then, I was so unhealthy because I was losing myself in struggling with grief and the world I had found myself in.
It feels like forever since we have been able to do a parkrun and I just hope that everything relaxes soon and we are able to return to take part in parkruns all over the country (and world!) again.
I’d love to set up a parkrun. I like to keep busy, so I am sure I can add that to my day!
I really would recommend parkrun to anyone. It doesn’t matter what your level of experience is, it is just a great way to start your weekend and it may surprise you how much it can impact your life. I needed to experience a parkrun to understand why walking, jogging can be the best thing ever. Seeing the support, the volunteers, and being able to take part weekly, for free, there’s really nothing to lose and so much to gain.
Training for any running event takes a lot of dedication – it’s a commitment that challenges you both physically and mentally. Our friends at WithU recently sat down with resident coach and running expert, Omar, to find out how you can support your event training, to get to the start line as prepared and happy as possible….
After the past two years, it’s never been more important to take care of your wellbeing and embrace a healthier lifestyle. But just like a new year resolution where less than one-quarter of us accomplish them, achieving our health goals can be more of a struggle than we admit. Fortunately, there are ways we can…