I’m not really a runner these days

parkrunOver the last few years, specifically 2012-2015, I’ve been doing more running. I started because a colleague inspired me when she told me about her first 10k. If she can do it then so can I so I added it to my rather informal bucket list: do a 10k and finish within an hour.

My target 10k was the Histon & Impington Bonfire Burn which, as you’d expect, takes place in November. I’ve now run it three times. The first time was 2013 when I’d taken myself through a steady training program (click here for info about that) and was in great shape until my calf gave out after about 9k. Big disappointment and subsequently it seemed that every time I went out running I’d pull a calf muscle. I wasn’t particular. They both went.

My regular physio just seemed to fix the symptoms so I switched to Alex at the Sports Injury Clinic (click here for its website). He’s not there anymore but he was super. He analysed the basic problem and got me doing a lot of exercises to strengthen the muscles. That seems to have sorted it but it wasn’t done soon enough for me to get ready for the 2014 race. I ran successfully nonetheless but just failed to beat an hour.

2015 was fine with no injuries and a successful run. I came in under an hour so job done. My colleague (see above) went on to do a marathon but not for me. This was enough and I can strike it off my bucket list.

What has made me especially pleased about this is that I’ve got an artificial hip vintage 1992. I’ve seen specialists who’ve checked out the X-rays and they’ve generally said: ‘it’s not degrading so carry on doing whatever you’re comfortable with’. This year I got a different guy who said: ‘it’s not degrading but I wouldn’t run if I were you’.

So with my goal achieved and with this advice I’ve been running less. No training runs for a 10k but just an occasional 5k and shorter ‘runs’ on the treadmill as a part of my gym program. I’ve replaced running with cycling (click here and here to read about that) so I don’t generally expect to run at the weekend.

But this weekend number one daughter’s at home and she asked: ‘is there a parkrun in Cambridge?’. Well there is, although it’s in Milton and not in Cambridge, so I got dragged along this morning.

Clare runs at the parkrun in Wetherby where the turnout is maybe 50. In Milton it’s 500!

It’s an interesting institution. It’s a 5k run, you register and you get timed. There are volunteer marshals and there’s a very professional presentation on line of the results. You get a personal email about how you did and I’m told you can even get a text message if you’re that keen.

But it’s really friendly and low stress. There’s none of the tension which goes with the ‘official’ 10k races. And it’s free.

I’d done no special training but I’m not unfit. Last year I reckon I could have run in less that 30 minutes  but in the absence of any specific ‘speed work’ I thought I’d be pleased to come in under 35 minutes. My reported time was 31.06 and given that there was a long column of runners which took time to pass through the start I suspect that I wasn’t much over 30 minutes real time. I was pretty chuffed.

On the official results sheet they note your time and tell you if it’s a PB. Mine obviously was. It also rates you within your year group and I came out above 50% which is pretty good when you think that most people in my year group would never get measured.

Does this motivate me to run again? Not sure. You can only participate on a Saturday morning and that’s my time for breakfast at Don Pasquale …. Maybe once a moth. We’ll have to see.

There’s more information about parkrun at www.parkrun.org.uk




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