The Reluctant Runner: Six months working up to this

It wasn't especially fast or elegant, but it was a run. A 5km run
It wasn't especially fast or elegant, but it was a run. A 5km run

My time had come, it was the day of my first Parkrun.

When I started trying to improve my health and fitness before Christmas, I decided that running 5,000 metres, or three miles, would be the acid test as to whether I had succeeded.

Approaching the halfway point

Approaching the halfway point

From Sewerby Hall, to the coastguard station and back and then all round the grounds and gardens.

I follow the nutrition plan I devised at my college presentation to the letter. Porridge with raisins at 7am, and a banana. Three Jaffa Cakes at 8am and plenty of water throughout the morning.

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail and all that. But privately, I was prepared to fail. I had done two 5km practice runs in preparation and both times had to walk parts of the second stage of the route.

I had learnt that I didn’t have great mental strength, and that wolfing down fish fingers, chips and beans an hour before running is not in any training manual for a reason.

The first two miles are along the clifftops at Sewerby

The first two miles are along the clifftops at Sewerby

My only hope was that a morning run after a proper breakfast, a large helping of adrenaline and having hundreds of people around me for support and encouragement would make a difference.

I knew it didn’t really matter what my time was, I knew that finishing the course was an achievement given the state I was in six months.

I also knew that it was called Parkrun, and not Parkrun-And-Walk-A-Bit and that if I couldn’t run all five kilometres, my effort would have been a little bit of a failure in my own eyes.

I arrived at Sewerby Hall nice and early and the first face I saw was a friendly and familiar one. Natalie had started this whole challenge when I visited the Health Trainers to get myself checked over.

It was all smiles at the beginning

It was all smiles at the beginning

She had been there at the beginning and now it was her job to get me to the finish line.

Lots of people were warming up and unlike me, they knew what they are doing. I did a few stretches to try to look the part but felt more like a fish out of water than at any stage of this project.

Yet, complete strangers are coming up to me and wishing me good luck, saying how much they have enjoyed reading about my exploits.

Gathered at the start line, the 211 runners are read the usual safety messages...and then there is a very loud mention for me, in front of everybody. Everyone gives a very polite round of applause.

211 runners completed the course on Saturday

211 runners completed the course on Saturday

I can’t let all these guys down. I can’t let myself down.

And so, off we go. For the first mile, the chat helps to take my mind off things. My pace is OK, but my muscles are not aching as much as on my previous attempts.

The halfway stage by the cricket club is where I have had to have a walk in previous attempts, but this time I am feeling strong, mentally and physically.

At two miles, my son Ben is waiting for me, and joins me for the final leg. Natalie’s words of encouragement have got me this far and Ben’s job is to keep my spirits up to the end.

The hill up to the woodland walk is tough, the steps with 500m to go are horrible - but I know the battle is won. I am even able to overtake a couple of other runners in the closing stages.

I am actually going to do this. An hour earlier, I didn’t truly believe it was going to happen.

Contemplating the challenge ahead

Contemplating the challenge ahead

I had run 5km. All 5km of it. No stopping, no walking, no failure. My time was 32 minutes and 47 seconds. When I first wondered if it was possible, many months ago, I had 40 minutes in my head.

I was 146th out of 211.

I have achieved good things in the past but it was always something I knew I could do, something in my skills set.

This was so far out of my comfort zone, that I allowed myself to genuinely proud of myself for the first time in ages. It had been emotional,