Kerry Street started the Couch to 5k programme for the third time in 2019. This time, with some help from parkrun Kerry has stuck at it and is reaping the benefits.
I started C25k in summer 2019 for the third time! My friend suggested I also try parkrun, which was on my doorstep.
I went along to Upton House parkrun feeling self-conscious, nervous and really not knowing what to expect. I probably put too much pressure on myself thinking I needed to be competitive. What I was met with was an inclusive and supportive environment, no judgement and plenty of inspiration from others, particularly those who are at the back of the pack and just keep going.
parkrun kept me going after the C25K programme finished. It provided me with a goal each week to keep up my running, I also came to appreciate the need to not put myself under so much pressure, at parkrun I could just enjoy the experience of being a participant. Also, I was inspired by all those who were completing 5k their way each week, with support from the wonderful marshals. The positive atmosphere and, ‘we’re in this together,’ mentality kept me coming back for more.
Being part of parkrun made me accountable, I wanted to turn up each week and while it isn’t a competitive environment I wanted to maintain my fitness and improve my time if possible. To do this I knew I needed to keep up with my exercising, both running and walking, during the week as well as the regular parkruns on Saturday mornings. I found regular exercise particularly supportive and beneficial when working from home during COVID.
Confidence is one of the biggest benefits I have gained from my parkrunning. When I started exercising I would always wear black so as to not get noticed as I was very self-conscious. parkrun instilled a pride in me and I now run in bright colours which make me feel happy and it’s great to make someone else smile with my crazy leggings!
My mental health has also benefitted, as being outdoors provides an immense sense of well-being, and doing it while getting fit helps too. Seeing the benefits of parkrun for other people also supports my work as a pharmacist and being able to recommend parkrun as an intervention for health and wellbeing.
parkrun gave me the confidence to think about, ‘what next?’. I started with a 10k event in March 2020, then progressed to a 25k Jurassic Coast challenge in May 2021 and then, wanting to see if I could achieve an ultramarathon, I completed a 50k in October 2021, followed by a 100k in May 2022. Through these challenges I have raised over £2,500 for charities dedicated to helping stroke victims and helping those managing with dementia.
parkrun is my anchor, my happy place. My wish is to get more people involved, my husband is now a regular parkrunner, I have recruited my brother and sister-in-law and my husband inspired a work colleague to start parkrunning. It brings me joy to see others enjoy parkrun, it only needs someone to take the first step!
I am a better person because of parkrun. I used to dislike running and never felt I could keep it up or go beyond 5k. I have learned to, ‘never say never,’ and that belief in yourself with support from others and a little determination can enable you to achieve things you never thought possible.
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