Exercise has always been something I considered important for my family. We have a huge trampoline in the garden (we have always had one since the oldest was young – in fact our younger two children had it like an outdoor playpen!), the boys have all had swimming lessons (the 11-year-old swims for academy) and we often go out for long walks. Somewhere along the way I read posts on Sarah’s blog (Mum of Three World) who talked about Parkrun every Saturday morning. Best of all it was free! We started off doing Parkrun Junior (a shorter course) but as there wasn’t one in our local town it meant we ended up getting up even earlier and soon moved to the full 5K one.
Our Family Parkrun Journey
I have to admit that initially the boys needed some encouragement. We started by offering them bacon sandwiches after they had run and this soon moved onto Krispy Kremes (not something that we had had, except the teen had tried one once). This got even more extreme with the promise of a whole big box of Krispy Kremes if they could beat really hard times! Sure enough the boys got faster and faster and achieved their goals. It soon got to the point that they wanted to run for the sheer fun of running (and beating their own personal goals). We had a bit of a relapse and somehow weren’t running as often as we used to. One of the problems also is that under 11s need an adult. The older of the two (then) under 11s was actually a lot faster than myself and my husband, so actually achieved his PB running with his brother (who’s PB is around 23 minutes). Then the youngest was told by an athletics coach that children shouldn’t be running the whole of Parkrun and it really put him off and he started saying that he couldn’t do it – that his legs hurt etc.
Where we are now with Parkrun
I feel that now the boys are home educated Parkrun is more important to keep up than ever. We now have only one under 11 and he is starting to build his confidence again – and will run the whole course (especially if you have him talking about his special interest). The teen is getting right back into it after I signed him up to a 5 mile race, as he had been struggling with the fact he wasn’t quite as fast as he used to be without having any practice. He even cycled to the venue and back last week. The 11-year-old is now learning to find his own pace now he doesn’t have to run with anyone and has gone over his magic 50 runs. Finally myself and my husband were due our 50ths and so my husband volunteered so that no-one had to run it with the youngest.
My 50th Parkrun
And just like that it was my 50th Parkrun. I haven’t been even near my PB since February – which was when I hurt my leg (my sports massage lady thinks I ripped my calf muscle). I have to admit I was worried that I had started off too fast when one of my favourite run leaders was behind me (I know she finishes/runs much faster than myself) but I could hear she wasn’t too far away and I didn’t feel like I was trying to sprint or anything. It is four laps with a few hills and slight inclines and I know roughly where the first mile is without even needing my watch. I have tried to run without looking at my speed but this time I decided to. I completed the first mile in 8 minutes 20 – much faster than I needed to beat my PB. I felt fine but was warm enough to take my jacket off. Then my teen shouted over at me that I was going too fast. I knew he only meant well but that was it I started to feel like I couldn’t do it! The run leader overtook me (of course checking I was ok) and I slowed right down. I think it got down to 9 minutes 43 or something like that – but I kept going. Some of the hills I then walked but other than that I ran, and I kept moving. Telling myself not to let him be right, not to give up, that I could do it. I managed to just try to keep the time down to around 9 minutes because I knew that is where I needed to aim for. In fact our 11-year-old was behind me still and this is very rare (he usually overtakes me if I am ahead, again checking if I am ok). Soon I was walking up the last hill knowing I couldn’t stop because I was just so close to getting a better time. No matter what I do like to sprint down the hill to the finish (sometimes to the point I think I am going to be ill!) and somehow I did have the energy. There it was a 28 minutes and 3 seconds finish. The 9th female and second in my age category! Maybe next time I run on my own I might manage to do it without any walking!
Parkrun Community Spirit
What I love most about Parkrun is the community. You see the same faces (as well as some new ones) and they are all so positive and encouraging. Someone said what great running I did that day, and how I always finish so strong. It was really nice. Myself I had gone to collect my jacket I left with a marshal and one amazing lady had just finished the couch to 5K at my running club and was just finishing so I ran alongside her until near the end.
If you are thinking of it I really would recommend seeing if there is a Parkrun by you.