Emma Farrant’s first parkrun marked a real milestone in her journey to finally being happy and healthy.
Here she tells us how she’s never experienced life with so much energy and so little pain.
I remember being asked, a couple of years ago, to do parkrun by someone at my church and I had to tell them I was too ill. Even walking that distance would have been a challenge for me.
I was incredibly fatigued, unstable and needing to walk with a stick, in constant pain and unable to be on my feet for more than ten minutes at a time.
Two months later I saw a specialist and was diagnosed with a chronic condition known as Hypermobile Spectrum Disorder (HSD) and my life changed for the better. At that moment I had answers and I had an action plan.
My condition means that the ligaments in my body are ineffective and therefore my muscles work overtime just to keep me standing. The solution was to build up these muscles. I gradually started increasing my walking with the stick. I started walking part of the way home from work, gradually walking a station on from where I’d usually get on, then two stations and then three. A year later, I could walk for an hour and half and was seeing some benefit but was still struggling.
I decided to pick up some strength training thanks to my wonderful hypermobility specialist physio and again I felt a bit better.
Then COVID-19 hit and I lost my walk to work and we were only permitted an hour of exercise. So I decided to work up to running for an hour every day and that’s when the big changes started happening. The gentle runs turned into races, a solo marathon and parkruns once the events restarted in July 2021.
I can honestly say I’ve never experienced life with this much energy and so little pain. I’m so grateful and so happy with what I’ve been able to achieve as a result.
My very first parkrun at the Stevenage event was such a big milestone. After I discovered I loved running, I spent the entire pandemic looking longingly at the parkrun social media pages, hoping the events would come back so I could finally say I’d completed a parkrun!
I went along to that first one with my running club, the Stevenage Striders and loved it. The support from the volunteers really makes such a difference.
Although I’ve only been a member of the running club for a short time, the people there have embraced me from the start. It’s a great community, and I guess that’s why I also love parkrun. Doing something you enjoy so much with others who also love it is a really, really great feeling.
Running has taught me that I can do far more than I ever thought possible. It has also shown me that being strong and healthy far outweighs being skinny, which is such a long way from the eating disorders I suffered from in my teens and early 20s that in turn led to my HSD being picked up as I’d lost so much muscle that my body was struggling to support itself.
Since then, I’ve learned to be kinder to my body and I’m so grateful for all it enables me to do, despite what I’ve put it through. To now have a healthy relationship with exercise is fantastic, rather than using it as a punishment or permission to eat, as I did in the past.
I wish someone had intervened sooner for me. I used to walk/jog for hours on the same treadmill in the gym when I was poorly, completely unchecked even though I looked absolutely terrible. Only the person themselves can make the decision to get better/get healthy, but knowing someone cares can be the push that person needs to seek help. So my advice would be to look after yourself, watch out for your fellow parkrunners and we can all try to be healthy and happy.
I am now at my strongest and I am happy. I do have bad days due to HSD, and I still struggle with body dysmorphia, but we have to give our bodies credit for all they carry us through and nurture them so we can really see our full potential.
Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed when I look back at my journey, but overall I’m just grateful. So grateful!
This week’s brunch recipe is our quick and easy Smoked Mackerel Omelette. Don’t forget to scan your Membership Card QR Code at your local event this weekend to receive your money off voucher! In case you might have missed it – to celebrate the return of parkruns, we are giving events across the UK…
Emma Farrant’s first parkrun marked a real milestone in her journey to finally being happy and healthy. Here she tells us how she’s never experienced life with so much energy and so little pain. I remember being asked, a couple of years ago, to do parkrun by someone at my church and I…