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News - 15th March 2022

Starting the weekend with a positive mindset

Tara Gray 1

Tara Gray needed to find a counterbalance to her stressful work role, ideally some enjoyable, sociable activity.


Initially she couldn’t run for 30 seconds, but, after finding a local running club and then parkrun, Tara is now looking forward to working her way up to a full marathon.


In the spring of last year I was looking for a way to improve my health and mental wellbeing.


I am a lead radiographer in the NHS and by the time April 2021 came along, after many months of dealing with Covid-19, I was on the edge of burnout due to working long shifts to help colleagues, working from home in the evenings and weekends to keep up with the responsibilities of my job and having a lot of pressure to deal with.


At that time, I also felt quite isolated. I didn’t have any social focus outside work and could feel my general health and mental wellbeing going downhill. My Dad, who had recently joined our local running club, Liverpool Running Bugs, encouraged me to try and find a focus outside work that I could enjoy and would improve my work/life balance.


My physical fitness at the time was very poor and so it took a little while to persuade me that I should approach the Liverpool Running Bugs club! At the time the club had just started a Couch to 5k programme and, feeling rather daunted, I joined the first session on the 20 April 2021 and I have grown so much since then.


I heard about parkrun through the Liverpool Running Bugs. Attending the weekly parkrun events is part of the club’s core weekly activities and all abilities are encouraged to join in.


My initial experience of parkrun was via freedom events because the actual events were still suspended due to the covid restrictions. The Liverpool Running Bugs kept up the weekly parkrun tradition throughout the pandemic and each weekend we visited different local parkrun routes, enjoying the different routes and recording our own times.


My first official parkrun event was at Sutton Manor on 31 July. Since then, I have completed 15 parkruns.


I was quite nervous attending my first ‘real’ parkrun. I remember checking I had my barcode with me numerous times, in the same manner you check you have your passport in your bag before heading to the airport! I was also worried about finding my way around the course and what to do at the end in order to obtain a finish token and have my barcode scanned. At the event, the team of marshals were very supportive and not only guided me along the route but also offered a lot of support and encouragement.


There was no reason to worry about anything!


The best part of that event for me was having some members of the Liverpool Running Bugs come back and accompany me for my final 1k. It is a lovely tradition in the club that no one is left behind and those who finish further up the field will always come back to find you or join the cheering squad at the finish and help those still out on the course to get to the finish line with support.


Tara Gray 2


I have also now volunteered eight times and have taken part in a variety of roles including: tail walker, marshal, finish tokens and barcode scanning. I’ve particularly enjoyed being a tail walker as it allows you to offer encouragement to everyone and make sure that no one is left behind. I have volunteered a number of times at my local parkrun in Knowsley and I must say that the volunteer team there are fantastic and really help everyone get around the undulating course, which can be a little tough as a newbie!


Attending weekly parkruns with my running club provides such important structure for me as it allows me to start the weekend with a positive mindset and a feeling of accomplishment. parkrun has also enabled me to visit so many different places in my local area that I have never had opportunity to explore before.


Tara Gray 4


Being part of the running club and parkrun communities has given me a lot of confidence and happiness as well as being a great social outlet, with the opportunity to meet so many new people after feeling very isolated for a long while. I’ve been really lucky to recently take on a role of helping new members in my running club and coaching them in a dedicated group.


I now have a very different outlook on life, appreciating the importance of putting yourself first and taking ownership of looking after your own well-being and I’m enjoying a much healthier work/life balance.


Tara Gray 3


I have set myself a goal for 2022 to complete 50 parkruns and also volunteer at 25 parkrun/junior parkrun events. I’m also hoping to find some parkrun events to explore further afield when away on holiday or visiting friends and family.


To anyone who is thinking of giving parkrun a try, I would say, ‘Do not be afraid to take the plunge.’


parkrun is for everyone, it is not a competitive running event, it is open to everyone and you can walk, jog or run, no one is too slow. Take it in small steps and create a vision for yourself and tick off and celebrate achieving your goals. I started off not being able to run for more than 30 seconds ten months ago and now I am training towards a half marathon and from there I hope to work up to a full marathon.


Thank you parkrun!


Tara Gray

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