I have long professed that I am not a runner. I don’t run. I don’t enjoy running, I’m not good at it and it often gives me a headache. I have never had a problem with walking though, and I walk a lot, I have even completed an overnight marathon (well, 3 actually, the last one I did in 6 hours, so I walk fairly quickly).
The Husband is a runner. He competes at a good level (well I think so), he occasionally does tirathlons or mud runs, but mostly he’s a 5/10k runner. He’s built like a runner too. I, it has to be said, am not.
Since before I met him he has been doing the occasional ‘Parkrun.’ I had never heard of parkrun, but relatively recently my mum took up doing them as well (she would also tell you she is ‘not a runner’) and has recently completed her 100th Parkrun.
The appeal of Parkrun is that they advertise ‘run, walk or jog’ and most Parkruns are very friendly and welcoming to everyone whatever speed. I know, because I have regularly been the last to finish. The first one I did was with a 4-month-old strapped to my chest and in a LOT of mud. I took well over 50 mins, and yes, I did walk.
Since then I have done quite a few-approaching 30 now I think, on and off of course because another baby appeared since the first one (he is currently trying to push a busy book ‘my little pony’ into my mouth) .
More recently something weird happened to me while completing it.
Not the whole way, but a bit.
Now as a walker I can do the 5k Parkrun under 40 mins, but as a ‘runner’ the time is slightly less again.
Yes, I know it’s not actually fast, and an accidental shot of me in the background of a runners website video of my local Parkrun course shows that I do indeed shuffle as if I have pooed myself.
But still, I ran a bit.
A few weeks later, I ran the whole course. Very, very slowly.
Now when I go, my aim is to keep running. To be a non-runner who runs. Some weeks a bit drops off my time, but it’s not all glamour, some weeks I wee myself a bit, or my nipples leak...every week I look an absolute state, a hot, sweaty purple mess. Shuffling along grunting and huffing alongside people who can chat and even laugh while going at my speed the whole way round. I can bearly breathe, let alone speak, even to thank the marshals who are volunteers.
I tell myself it dosen’t matter, that at least I’m up and doing something. Even if it is a struggle to find workout clothes that don’t make me look gargantuan or like a sack tied in the middle, or that don’t fall down when I run. Even if I am still pretty close to the back, despite running, even if the run-walkers are still faster then me, ever if it feels like I can’t get any faster no matter how much effort I put in, even if the front runners still lap me.
Most recently I found some sort of fast finish from out of nowhere. I mean, I shuffled a bit faster right at the end. I don’t know where it came from-if you had asked me 30 seconds before hand I would have told you that there was no way I could go any faster if my life depended on it. But I did.
There’s something else as well. I have discovered, via a friend, ‘virtual runs’ (https://www.virtualrunneruk.com) Now, The Husband, who competes regularly in *actual* runs is a skeptic when it comes to these, but I like them. They are an online group who offered runs and challenges that you sign up for and complete remotely. You pay roughly £12 (or whatever the event costs) to enter, and obide by their rules whatever they are, send in your evidence and they send you a medal and put you in the rankings for that race. Each race sponsors a charity. My first race, the Seahorse 5k sponsors an Epalesy charity, and when I last looked my 36 or so mins put me 26th. I sent in my Parkrun stats for one run in the month it had to be completed, but you could just as easily send in your map my run or Fitbit stats as evidence. Yes, you don’t get the atmosphere or comaradery of an actual event, but runners like me don’t always want that, to pay for an event only to come almost last, with my top riding up showing my ‘mum tum’ and everyone overtaking me. This gives me an opportunity to get a medal for running, an actual recognition of an achievement, small to some but big for me, and, does having a medal for doing it make me a ‘runner?’
I don’t know. What I do know is, every step of that 5k is a challenge for me, I have to keep telling myself; ‘just don’t stop running, it dosen’t matter how slow, just keep going, keep actually running...’