Dom Fairlie wanted to increase his activity to help improve his health. Volunteering at parkrun combined with the Couch to 5k programme proved to be the winning formula.
After receiving a bit of a warning about my cholesterol levels from the doctor I needed to think about upping my activity levels. I knew I needed to build up the activity slowly to avoid any injuries and that’s when I heard about the Couch to 5k programme. Then parkrun seemed like the ideal event to aim for and keep myself going once the programme was over. All of this was encouraged by my GP who thought it a great way to help reduce my cholesterol.
As I had only just started the C25k programme, I didn’t feel like I could do 5k straightaway but I wanted to be involved. I’d not really explored our local area since moving here, so volunteering at my local Hazelwood parkrun seemed like the perfect solution.
I walked down on my first parkrun day, arriving nice and early to meet the Run Director and one or two others. The Run Director and other volunteers were extremely helpful and showed me the course maps and what the process was. I marshalled at the front of the finish funnel on my first day which kept me close to the team. The event was entirely as I had expected, lots of friendly faces who were very welcoming and interested to see me get involved and help out.
As the parkrunners passed me on my first day, I was cheering them on and they were shouting, “thanks marshal!” which was lovely.
I was keen to experience the other volunteering roles. The Run Director happily showed me all the different roles I could do each week and also the Virtual Volunteer app and how that works.
Volunteering is fantastic and there are regular faces that come and volunteer on a weekly basis. I’ve had a go at being a marshal, timekeeping, handing out finish tokens, scanning barcodes and sorting the tokens. I have even written the Run Report, from the point of view of a first timer, once I’d completed my debut 5k. I have also volunteered at junior parkrun.
The C25k programme has been great in taking me on a steady progression, building up week on week very gradually. I haven’t repeated weeks, but I have taken slightly longer to make sure I don’t push my knee, which I’ve injured in the past, and it’s been working a treat. After initially finding running for one minute really tough, I now actually look forward to doing some training! Who’d have thought?
I was only at week six of the C25k programme at the time I did my first parkrun. I honestly didn’t think I was going to be able to do the whole thing at a run without needing to stop for some walks. So I took it slowly and amazingly I managed to run the whole thing without stopping to walk which I was really pleased with. I can work towards improving my parkrun times week on week as my fitness improves.
On that morning I experienced first-hand the energy and encouragement that comes from the volunteering team cheering on the parkrunners. It is incredible.
Of course I now realise I could have jumped in and completed the parkrun course at anytime, I could have walked it, I didn’t need to wait until I felt I was ‘fit’ enough to run most of it.
I was volunteering this past weekend and spoke with the Event Directors who very kindly invited me to become part of the core team and asked if I would be comfortable being Run Director at some point in the future. So I’m looking forward to taking on some more volunteering roles and mixing it up with doing the 5k some weeks too. Maybe both on some Saturdays as I can volunteer to pre-event set up and post-event close down with a 5k in the middle!
parkrun and the C25k programme have got me back into regular activity, which I am really enjoying. It is great to feel healthier and fitter, not necessarily what I set out to achieve, but if I can lower my cholesterol that’s the most important thing.
I can’t wait to get to my first milestone of 25 parkruns and I can get my t-shirt. Putting in the effort to reach goals takes hard work and determination and the prizes at the end are really nice touches that can make it feel well worth it.
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