Graduated with my 1st Parkrun

Short version:

Finally finished the C25K program after 11 weeks(took a week off for calf issues than came down with a cold the week after). Finished off with an unintended Parkrun with a time of 31:45.

11 weeks ago I never thought I would be running and enjoying it the way I am and its all down to the C25K program and the encouraging posts by the people on this board. Thank you all.

Long version:

I was very apprehensive when I first started C25K due to being a smoker for over 20 years and not doing any exercise in as many years. It seemed impossible that I would be able to jog 5K in 9 weeks. But by the end of week 6 I had jogged 5K without stopping. I know this was well before the end of the C25K program, but the change of route to an easier one gave me the extra energy to do it. I felt exhilarate after doing it and annoyed my family by telling them over and over again how amazing this C25K program is and what i'd accomplished in a seemingly short period of time.

I went back to my old route and tried to stay with the program but came across a calf issue that made me stop. Not sure what was causing it or why it was happening but my calves were constantly tense even on my days off. The tension just increased if I carried on jogging so decided to take a weeks rest. I felt a bit gutted at this point as I was buzzing from every run and felt I would lose the enthusiasm. 1 week turned into 2 weeks as I came down with some kind of cold/flu bug during my weeks rest.

I wasn't sure where to start again after the 2 weeks break and assumed I had lost a little fitness over this time, how wrong was I. Decided to start week 7 and see how I went. To my surprise I was feeling stronger and fitter than when I stopped. By the end of week 7 I had run 5K on my harder route in good time and energy in reserve.

Week 8 I decided to focus on my running technique. I'd been reading a lot during my break period about running technique and how to improve it. Trying to focus on foot strikes and body movements while listening to the podcast was impossible so I had to dump the podcast. This didn't bother me too much as the music was becoming annoying, I just missed Laura congratulating me after the runs. My foot landing is a lot smoother now but ive not mastered any technique. I need to increase my pace and stride to improve it any further and im just not fit enough to do that yet.

Week 9 I changed my route for a bit further distance with some nice inclines in it. I measured it on a map at about .5k further than my normal route but I made a miss judgment. It was a nice run and I finished it with energy in the bank but had been out the house longer than expected. The next day I felt it big time and recalculated the route. Turned out it was closer to 7k than 5.5k with some of the inclines steeper than I remembered them. I will run it again soon as it is a nice run, but I will take my phone to measure it next time. For my next run I did an easier 5k.

Time for my graduation run! Im not really an early morning runner, but it was dry outside and the weather forecast was not good for the rest of the day so I decided to go and do it early. I was warming myself up a little before I left and remembered its parkrun day. With plenty of time to get there, I grabbed my barcode, towel, drink and a spare t-shirt and off I went. Im glad I only thought about it when I did or I might have talked myself out of it for some stupid reason.

There was a mass of people at the starting point. I never expected so many people to be there, 236 participants plus family, friends and volunteers. I wasn't sure what to do at first, I just stood there overwhelmed by the amount of people there. Then a volunteer shouted for all the newcomers to the Hanley parkrun to gather around her. She showed us a map of the course and told us when and how to use the barcode and we joined the others at the start. Just before we started a volunteer welcomed everyone to the run and asked for people who were 1st timers to this run where they had come from. 1 couple were from the Isle of Man and another couple from Australia!

Off we went. I planned on a steady jog but once it started I got carried away with the pace of big group. Had to tell myself to slow down after a few minutes, I didnt know the course but knew there were a few small hills that could have been strength sapping. They turned out not to be as big as expected but I stayed at a steady pace throughout expecting a time of around 35 mins. It was great to see so many people of different age, size, fitness levels and running with prams and dogs.

I finished with a time of 31:45 which I was more than happy with. I really enjoyed it and will run it again next week if im not working. Its very well organized and the volunteers and family who cheer and clap you around the course make it so rewarding. Flapjacks and cakes at the end from runners celebrating their 50th and 100th runs.

I have also found a new respect. Ive always wondered why some people are very slow joggers and wonder how they can run so slow. I stood near the finish watching and clapping people who were coming in after me. There were some really large people towards the back, not walkers but joggers. I was impressed by the speed of the fast runners but these slower joggers were giving it everything they had too. I was very impressed by their determination and mental power to keep going to the very end. I felt they deserved the best cheer and clap out of everyone and thats what I gave them.

So thats me done with the C25K and its been an awesome program to get me off my ass and achieve a level of fitness which I can continue and improve. I have the national 3 peaks challenge and a 10K mud run to do in September. I feel fit enough for the 3 peaks but the mud run will be challenging. After that I'll continue to increase my range and get more hills in my runs, maybe some trail running in the peak district. Without a doubt I'll be doing more parkruns. Next year I might even do a half marathon, but that will depend on how fun the mud run is, as I might decide to do more cross training and enter some more challenging events.

A big thanks to whoever put the C25K program together, its absolutely brilliant and I will recommend it others for years to come. Also a big thanks to people on here who give encouragement and advice to others. I hope to stick around and do the same for others that come and go.

Anyone feeling generous enough to sponsor me for the mud run you can do so here: Thank you in advance if you do sponsor me and thanks to the 2 that already have, greatly appreciated.

4 Replies

  • well done LP big congrats on your graduation and a cracking time too :D

  • Great post and terrific achievement.

    Many congrats.

  • Well done. Transformation complete. Sometimes the Parkrun carries one along, doesn't it? It's nice being among so many people with such diverse reasons for running (apart from health), and it can be pleasantly distracting running along with a dog for a while (just because dogs go beyond delighted when fantastic things like that happen). Nice that you "finished on a high", too.

  • So happy for you. I graduated today too so I can appreciate how proud you are feeling right now. You have inspired me to do a parkrun soon!

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