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So today’s schedule said “parkrun” – however, today I was a parkrun volunteer (more on that in a moment) so I ran a relaxed 5km locally before setting off.

I didn’t worry about the pace, just relaxed into the run (something I want to do for tomorrow’s long run), and I thoroughly enjoyed every second of the run!

It was a bit tentative to start with, my legs felt a little stiff, the ab muscle was still sore, but as the run progressed everything eased up, and I no longer noticed the ab muscle. there was no forcing of pace, in fact when I noticed myself pushing harder, I made a conscious effort to ease back a little.

OK, I know it was a short run compared to the long runs of recent weeks, and it was a short run done at a relatively slow pace. But it was brilliant – everyone needs one of these runs (at whatever pace and distance works for them) at least once per week!

Garmin link:

parkrun volunteering

so… this week I found myself on the “other side of the fence” at my local parkrun, having volunteered to be a marshal. it was a very different parkrun experience, and one I am truly grateful for having experienced!

I arrived, as per instructions, at 7:15am. by 7:30 there were half a dozen volunteers gathered under the gazebo where the barcode scanner usually sits, wondering when the race director would turn up and tell us what we needed to do. turns out the race director (Feli) was over at the start line setting up flags etc., a couple of crossed wires but no harm was done and it didn’t take long for us to be allocated roles and locations, give our post-run coffee order, and head off to do our duties!

I was allocated to “bin corner”, which is a point where runners make a right turn off a suburban street and head back into the park itself. it’s just over 1km from the finish line. it’s referred to as “bin corner” because there is a council wheelie bin there LOL.

I did a light jog out to take up position, daubed myself in sunscreen, took a selfie (of course) and a couple of other snaps of my view. It was pretty quiet, and I had about 10 to 15 minutes to kill before the front runners were likely to be sighted.

Once the runners appeared, I then spent just over half an hour clapping runners, encouraging them, offering free high-5s as a reward for their effort, and also observing…

firstly, the sheer number of people who make the effort to say “thank you” as they run past was fantastic. I benefit from this free event most weeks now, so it really wasn’t a hard decision for me to “give back”, but it was really nice to have so many people show appreciation.

it was a great exercise in runner-watching too – seeing the diversity of people’s styles and forms. some crazy leg and arm movements, some of which were obviously effective as they were clearly hitting a great pace. it was also something of a time machine for me personally.

you see, parkrun attracts a whole range of people with different running and walking abilities. sure, at the very front you have some great athletes who achieve some cracking times. but all the way back through the field, there is one thing in common – people getting out, giving their all, having some fun and putting in as much effort as anyone else.

For some, that effort delivers a 45 minute 5km, for others it means a good walk on a Saturday morning, for another group it will be a mixture of walking and running, and for others it might be a PB attempt, sub-30, sub-25 and so on.

In many ways it was like watching part of my journey in reverse, and a humbling realisation of how far I have come with the support of so many other people. It wasn’t long ago that I would have been at the back, walking, occasionally jogging 100 metres, not knowing if I would ever be able to actually run 5km. It wasn’t long ago I would have been once of the slow joggers who were happy to simply make it all the way around without walking at all. In recent times, I have become one of the sub-30 runners pushing towards the 25 minute mark.

and it reminded me of the effort that each stage has taken, the effort it took to get started, the effort it takes to keep at it, consistently and patiently.

so I take my hat off to each and every parkrunner who was out today – the fact that you were there (at whichever parkrun venue you were at) is worthy enough of mention alone. the fact you then put in the effort to cover 5km in whatever way you are currently capable, is worthy of the applause and support of every marshal you passed by.

keep at it, keep going, never give up and most of all – “keep calm and park run

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