Couch to 5K
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Calm down dear - park run 3

I know everyone is running for different reasons and with different goals and challenges to suit them so I’m not sure why I feel the way I do about my park tun experiences.

It takes a lot of girding of my loins to make the effort to go and run effectively in public . so today I was talking to one of the volunteers on the way to the start and an older man ran past us and she said that’s my neighbour he runs here from the town 2 miles away does the course and then runs back home again so already I’m feeling intimidated .

I set off slowly and steadily, uphill start and as usual made a determined effort to run the whole route, no walking breaks. As I was coming towards the end of the route a very nice lady ran beside me, lots of encouragement being offered and I felt rather good til I suddenly realised she was tail volunteer so that meant I was last!!! Now I know it doesn’t matter and that I really have nothing to prove to anyone but myself but today mentally I was back in school being praised for “taking part” by the sympathetic teachers.

So calm down dear is a mantra to myself. Keep doing this because you can , block out the rest of the runners, it is winter and only the most dedicated and determined runners are out there, you are not the fat unfit kid you were and why do you care so much about where you fit in the scheme of things?

Does anyone else feel like me ?

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Strange but the saying "it's not the winning it's the taking part that counts" is fine until you find yourself as tail end Charlie and then the realisation that we don't want to be last home hits us.

But the truth is we really should be pleased to be out there and completing the runs we set out to do and be happy with what we are achieving but it can be hard

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Wise words, yes I know it’s all in the mind, thanks for the sympathy

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But I still wouldn't want to be tail end Charlie though I now feel that I am built more for comfort than speed lol so wont beat myself up about it

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I would feel exactly like you - which is why I still shudder at the thought of a park run! By taking part and completing the thing you're already two steps ahead of me!

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Thanks, I sometimes think I have a touch of the masochist about me 🤪

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My sentiments entirely!! Not brave enough for a park run !!

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Totally understand laurel55 - I did Parkrun once soon after graduation in July and had a similarish mix of feelings. I did the course again - not during Parkrun- and was even slower. But it’s a good course for me -easier than my sheep tracks on the South Downs and it did give me a reality check- ie, this is my starting point and I need to be patient and persistent if I want to float along in a carefree way for a good hour, (which is my current ambition). I feel as though C25k was preschool - lots of easy wins - now comes the slog!!!

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You are so right. I was so pleased to graduate, but like all graduates this is only the start of our apprenticeship 🙂

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'Float along in a carefree way for an hour' - now THAT is an ambition I like the sound of! Maybe I could by the end of this year! 😀

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Run for you... and just you...this is your journey.... :)

"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

"

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I really relate to this - I haven't even made it to a Park Run yet because I cringe at the thought of the poor tail runner having to wait for coffee / breakfast etc while I tootle along at my customary snail pace. Having said that, I don't mind how slow I am at all when running alone doing my own thing! 😃

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My feelings exactly, I got fooled by people telling me how much fun park runs are HAH still waiting for the fun,,,,,,

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I have decided that I will try it when I know that I can complete it in less time than I could walk it ( even a couple of minutes less is fine) & run the full 5 k comfortably. This may well be when I can run 6k on my own!! 😀

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Please don't worry about the tailwalker. It's a volunteer position that is highly coveted at our Parkrun, and definitely my favourite position. We volunteer for it because we love it. Even better if loads and loads of 'slow people' come out, because that goes on to encourage more people to join. There's a regular roster of back-of-the-packers at mine. Some run very slowly throughout. Some run/walk. Some just walk. And it's a-okay. Coffee will be there when I'm done, if I wanted it faster I wouldn't have volunteered. Also many of our tailwalkers have been coming back from injury so they aren't going fast whether you do or not. Or they have another run planned later. Or they don't run ever but walk the course themselves regularly. I also just enjoy running at a different pace because I seem to have one pace that I go, and being tail lets me do a long gentle run.

Millsie-J has it right though, if you want to be left alone just let the tailwalker know. The first few times I did it I wasn't quite sure what people wanted, but I quickly found out that most of our regulars want to run on their own and in silence (which is fine because for me running and talking is hard enough). Now my default is to run behind in silence unless someone else initiates a conversation.

It's hard to accept the cheering for what it is, a celebration of your runs. Our small Parkrun cheers everyone across the line. I was never an athletic kid, and it always makes me slightly embarrassed, but also makes me tear up a little. I've earned those damn cheers and so have you. I still remember the first few Parkruns after months off due to my concussion were a real struggle (or rather, more of a struggle than my usual Parkruns which I always find tough), and the cheers over the line at Parkrun made me feel like I had really accomplished something monumental. Which for me, I had.

Happy running to you and LookNannyruns. You are doing just great.

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Thank you so much- RWD, that's really encouraging. I will get there!

I also really relate to the achievement after concussion. When I managed my first walk "on the tops" in the Lake District after my concussion about 20 people ( i.e. everyone that was there) cheered loudly as I reached the summit. - Unknown to me, my husband had gone ahead and organised a group of complete strangers to celebrate with us - it was so moving. They were so friendly and encouraging- much like this forum! 😃

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Ah that is very sweet that he roused the troops. It's a real milestone. It's a hard journey to recovery. I was doing Parkrun every weekend, and then had to cancel all volunteer stints and avoid it completely for quite some time after the concussion. Our Parkrun is very small and new, and has about 20 or so people a week in the winter so when one person goes missing it's very obvious. Finally I could volunteer again, as barcode scanner but I would wobble back to the car and have to collect myself before driving home. The first one that I could run was so sweet. Concussions really make you appreciate all of the little things. I haven't tried hiking yet, once summer hits I will definitely give one a go.

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Thank you so much, it’s good to get an inside point of view . I will continue, with quite a different attitude now

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If you lived here I'd drag you out to the cafe afterwards. At least at ours, people like to sit for a long, long time and enjoy their earned coffee - I've been often as tailwalker and there is always loads of company.

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Some say this Running lark is 'addictive'. I prefer describing it as 'Seductive' :) My attitude used to be 'Run early, run Dark' - hated the thought of being 'seen' so early morning dark, wearing all black gear and where only muggers, crazies and Dementors would frequent....and I was embarrassed if they saw me!!

However - now I could not give a darn. :) I quickly realised I was enjoying it all too much to give a darn.

These days I would run even if I were bug-eyed, frothing at the mouth, knees-to-chest-gaited, dressed in fluorescent Tartan Parachute pants and 'I love Justin bieber' Tee Shirt (pink, three sizes too small) through Wembley stadium during Cup Final if that was my only option to run...because I love running.

And 'I love running' was NOT in my vocabulary nor 'ever would be' just a year or so ago :)

Laurel - Come To The Running Side...you will love it here, I promise :) (and with all that exercise you can eat the cookies we have here ;) )

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John, when did you see that photo of me in my Justin Bieber shirt and parachute pants?

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It's on my bedside table Ian :)

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You know what, you’ve seduced me already with your ideas for glamming up- they’ll be singing “she’ll be wearing sparkly leggings when she runs” by the time the year is out!

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Photo - do post photo :)

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Ok confession..... i am often last at our Parkrun...... ooops thats not the confession! I confess I do not like running with others alongside me, unless it is my son or daughter...... or someone i choose and I feel comfortable with.

So at parkrun I have a quiet word with the tailwalker and say something like.....’ I am slow but I am ok. I prefer to run by myself please. Please dont worry about me. I will see you at the finish’.

They never ever mind. They probably relax because they know they dont have to make small talk. Or if there happens to be someone a bit slower than me, they can concentrate on encouraging that person.

You could volunteer as tail walker yourself if you really are the back runner. You will still get your time etc.

Enjoy!

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What a good idea, last with a purpose sounds good

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I am exactly the same!

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That's helpful thanks! 😀

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Have you read any of John Bingham's books, like "No need for speed" or "The Courage to Start?" They're great when it comes to this issue because he positions running as a wonderful life-enhancing activity rather than as a competition you know you'll never win. His writing really helped me re-adjust my attitude.

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No but I’ll look out for some, it does help to read the about other side

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Love that quote - 'Running, a wonderful life enhancing activity' - spot on!!

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Love John Bingham. Courage to Start was one of my bedtime staples when I was, erm, starting.

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Everyone who takes part in parkrun is a winner. Don't give something else the job of coming last as they may not have the courage to keep on coming to the parkrun. Keep going as slow as you need to and after a few months you will get faster. The purpose of parkrun is to get more people fitter so take your time. As long as you are less than 90 minutes 😂😆

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Its true, us slow folk are kind enough to come last so that others dont need to 😀😀🏃🏻‍♀️

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martinhermanus you are spot on Everyone who takes part in parkrun is a winner. Every runner is ahead of those who are still in bed... I am I think (I hope) on the verge of "enjoyment" having don my 9th parkrun yeterday.

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Don’t beat yourself up. You are running 5k which is fantastic. I am pretty new to running but have become a Parkrun regular and have volunteered as tail Walker several times. Often we have people who don’t even attempt a jog, they just walk the whole distance. Don’t get me wrong, this is fine as they are getting out there and exercising, but if you are running the whole way, however slowly, then you are a star. Keep going and I’m sure you won’t be at the back for long and it will feel great 🏃‍♀️

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Perhaps volunteering would be a good idea, I’m so grateful for people who do that otherwise the runs wouldn’t happen.

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I know the feeling. What keeps me going is that my daughter (who still runs and does all sorts of sports) regularly came last in her races of very talented young runners. She kept doing it, so I decided that so could I.

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Well done for completing a park run. I think that is amazing. It doesn’t matter if you come first or last. You were out there doing the same as all those other runners. I still haven’t plucked up the courage to do a park run so I am in awe of you. Well done 🙌🏼🙋🏼😀

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Thank you so much for that remark, I thought I was being silly having such nerves before going out. I suppose for the rest of the time I’m a “secret” runner just me and nature so nothing to measure myself against. But like you I am a graduate and I can run so boo to my head gremlins 🙂

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Yes, I run alone most of the time. Recently I have gone with a friend a couple of times but prefer going at my own slow pace and just enjoy getting outside doing something for myself.

I don’t think it’s silly being nervous at all. I think it shows great courage to go on a park run if you are nervous. Go you. Amazing 😀

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Could you have done that before C25K? I doubt it. Running does not have to be competitive in any way and you should not feel intimidated by other runners.

I am in awe of the folk who do parkrun in under twenty minutes and the pros who run 10k in the time it takes me to run 5k (on a good day!). I still love parkrun for its inclusivity, support and general ethos of people power.

You must be younger than me..........my generation were generally abused and belittled by PE staff if we were not matching expectations..........I think encouragement is more favourable.

Most of my running is out across the fields, hills, moors, cliff paths etc, with nobody making any comments on my pace, good or bad. Run because you can.

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Doubt I’m younger, I have horrid memories of school PE . All compounded by having a gymnast, sailing, swimming,basketball playing father! He never ever put me down but I thought I’d never match him so I didn’t even try. Sad to say he didn’t live to see this reformed daughter doing her stuff. Your remark has made me realize how proud he would have been so that what I’ll carry round instead of gremlins in my head . Thank you

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I’ve been going to parkrun for quite a while now, I love it, I’m not quick, never will be, I’ve also volunteered lots and been tailwalker. It really is many different things to many people, I’ve taken part in encouraging others and have received encouragement, sometimes I haven’t wanted that encouragement, and sometimes I’ve felt I should just keep my mouth shut...sometimes I feel confident, sometimes I don’t.

But, I keep going, I’ve lost count of the times I’ve reminded people it’s a ‘run’ not a ‘race’ , I actually had someone say to me yesterday, ‘if you could run as well you can talk!’ - I was talking to a lady who was struggling a bit and this is what her husband said to me,(I am usually a bit in front of her) yes it was possibly very rude, but I think he was just trying to say something to be included in the conversation. There was also a marshal calling out times, and I thought, ‘I really don’t need to be reminded how slow I am, thanks’ (with a smile in my mind)

So, I go along, join in, smile, be nice, take what I perceive what is meant by what some might say with a pinch of salt....(I always say thank you for encouragement) .I’ve just completed 5k on a Saturday morning in whatever way I choose, i’ll take that.....

I hope you keep going and take from it what you want, not what anyone else thinks you should, parkrun expects nothing of you other than to go along and join in....🤗

Mx

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Oh yes so good to hear so many similar experiences to me, perhaps if there were readable thought bubbles over everyone’s heads I would realize there were lots of thought battles going on

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Remember, you are amazing, you set out to do this C25K, you’ve stuck to it, and achieved it, that’s no easy thing, and we are only human after all 🤪

By the way, I don’t do the coffee thing after parkrun, (lots have gone by the time I get there anyway) and I don’t really ‘know’ any of the people I meet there, they are a group of people I come across once a week who take part in parkrun, some speak, some don’t, some are regulars, lots of new faces etc. . So they don’t ‘know’ me either....

What amazes me are the ones who sail past me having a right old chinwag.....yak, yak, yak....😂.....how on earth do they do that? Ha ha!

Mx

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Yes, yes, and yes again! I have likewise done 3, and my next target is to run the whole thing, but I hate being last, (though I know ‘it doesn’t matter’!) and I have yet to come away with that adrenaline buzz that everybody else seems to feel. However - I will keep trying..... maybe things will improve in Spring??

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My aim is to eventually go to the coffee shop and find that everyone else is not putting on their coats ready to go home! I’ve avoided it since the first time and the feeling of not belonging to the set of people discussing PBs distances and all things competitive. My euphoria at actually finishing evaporated in seconds!

Like you though I will keep trying, I like the thought of going to others across the country if I’m away from home, at least it’s planned routes and I can’t get lost

Good luck in your endeavours and spring cometh🙂

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We will nail this! One day we’ll be celebrating our PBs with the rest of them! 😆

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I’ve only run once in a Parkrun in December last year and I won’t be able to run one again until I am back in the UK this summer. I loved it so much and wanted to soak up every minute of it so I had something to hang on to when I went back to Bahrain. It still keeps me going and I often re run the whole thing in my mind before I sleep at night. I can’t wait to get back to do more. Being out in the fresh air with green grass, trees and fields is such a privilege I would trade coming last in every one for just a chance to run just one more before the summer. Get out there and enjoy it. Seize the day.

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A sobering reply indeed. Yes I am very fortunate to have this on my doorstep, to have time to do it and the health to get out there. Your reply amongst many thers has put everything into perspective. Thanks

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Ahem!!! By order of the Peaky...oops, sorry..

Ahem! Call to order.

The snailiest of the snails out there, the lethargiest of the plodders, the most suffering of the " my lungs almost come out my nose when I run" is FASTER THAN A SPEEDING BULLET compared to the Slob on the Sofa ;)

As for "appearance" - I promise you, none of those people want to whisk you away to a life of yachts, champagne and madmonkey sex so who cared what they think :)

(PS - if any of you ladies do want to whisk me away - I'm the manly man running in the tailored Tuxedo...:)

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😂😂 oh so you mean my knight in clanking armour is not coming to run away with me, I was running slowly so he could catch me up 😁

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Sweetheart - if the guy is worth it, you could never outrun him :)

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😇

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Oh, this could have been written by me! I ve not yet joined a Park Run because in spite of everything I know (it's the taking part etc etc) I don't WANT to be that person struggling at the back while others smile sympathetically.

There's absolutely no shame in coming last and I totally understand that it's not about comparing yourself to others. But the demons of the past are hard to kill, because I was always the chubby girl right at the back in school cross country sessions and it is a powerful thing.

Right now I'm enjoying getting out there and persevering, working on my stamina.

You're doing a great job and I m looking forward to when I, like you, have the courage to do a Park Run 😀

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There are so many people still on their couches you should be pleased with yourself no matter what 🙌

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That blooming chubby girl never leaves the back of your mind does she? I reckon if we both keep working at it we’ll out run her. Good luck in your first park run whenever that might be

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Another last at the Open Run (what NYC calls a Park Run) here. I've done three. The first two I was second to last with a strong runner keeping pace with his very young son (age 8 or so) or grandson behind me. I have a feeling the young lad didn't like being slower than me, so by week 3 he and his dad or granddad passed me. I didn't love that feeling but maybe I boosted the young boy's confidence! Anyway, I improved my pace in week 3 and so I feel like I "won" that Open Run. It is hard not to compare oneself to others but that's the real goal. There will always be someone faster, smarter, richer, thinner. Just compare yourself to you and you'll find yourself succeeding over time.

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Well done 👍 at the end of the day you should remember that not everyone can run 5k so you should be super proud of yourself 🏆

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Our Delta parkrun in South Africa encourages everyone to join in, no matter what speed you complete the somewhat hilly course. Our average number of participants is about 1200...so there are all sorts of shapes and sizes. I started C25K in 2013 and have kept going... i have now done 83 and can't wait to get my black 100 t-shirt. I am injured with Achilles tendonitis at the mo and unable to run ... so I walk the whole way and have enjoyed my conversations with mums pushing prams, grans with grandkids and the 'walking crocks' like me.

With half a knee replaced and high morning temperatures, it would be much easier to miss these outings... but it keeps me fit, its me against the clock, and really no-one gives a hoot about anyone else's time... only their own!

So get out and join in the fun!

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Oh wow our run is only 200 people, your kind words have made me look outside myself and realise there is more to this than my ego!!

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Hi there on your home page you say you are "aiming for sleek at 70". There is a chap who always laps me at park run (I'm a bloke approaching 52) who wears a shirt with "Don't underestimate a 70 year old who can run like this". Always makes me smile. We also have a chap and a lady who are both over 80 and are there every week. I find them inspirational.

happy running

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The key to all of this fitness lark is never to compare yourself to others, unless you are training to be an elite athlete. The only person you need compare yourself to is your former self. I lift weights with people half my age who lift 3 times what I do. I find that really invigorating. My PB may be their warmup weight, but its more than twice what I could manage when I started out.

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I know, we live in a world of comparisons and I thought I grown old enough to ignore them I’m working on it. My former self is indeed amazed at what her older self can do !!

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It’s been good for me to have this topic aired to think about in advance of doing Park Run again as I surely will - as it’s human to feel competitive at times and human to feel disappointed if you’re not up with the main crowd. So in amongst all the good feelings (which I most definitely did feel) I will be prepp’d next time for the less noble twinges! So thanks Laurel...May we tail-end with pride. I also like the opp to manage whether you’re up for chat or not.

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Chat away

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Sorry - v bad grammar on my part! I meant good idea (of someone’s - thank you!) to let tail runners know if you would rather not chat while running. Not sure I’d be able to!

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Thanks for the clarification I was puzzled 🤔

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There are around about 110,000 park-runners so even if you are the last of the last that puts you ahead of around 59.9m others in the UK. Not only that but every one of the 110,000 park-runners knows the effort you are putting in. Indeed I did my first on Saturday and was gratified to see the quicker runners cheering in the later finishers. Its not the taking part but being a member of the family of park-runners.

I also chatted to an organiser that was also running and they said that they judge success by the smiles on the faces of the finishers and not their times.

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Well I certainly smile , what else can you do in the face of so many people wishing you well? I didn’t realise I was part of such a huge family . I think your remarks have made me feel included ant it was only myself making me feel excluded

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Parkruns and the like are great free events but they have a fairly mixed amount of people to the almost elite that runs it in 15 minutes to the me that is 35-40 minutes. I haven’t graduated C25k yet but I like to use them as a yard stick. I enjoy doing them but I know I am there for me and no one else.

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Yes I am realising that for me they are a tangible measure of what I am doing. I still can’t quite believe I’m out there running but when I get that congratulations email I know I was actually there and I did run 5k

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Great post. I have not done a Park Run yet as I don't really feel ready. Instead I am doing 5k runs 3 times a week ( sadly thats 2x gym and 1 x real world atm) and am enjoying just feeling stronger and sleeping better. I'm still a beginner runner and will probably do a park run when the sun starts shining again!

Just reflect on the first time you ran continuously for 20 mins. That one was special for most of us. Also the first time you told your children ( casually). "Oh I've just been for a 5k run". Absolutely priceless! Keep smiling and keep on running too!

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