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The Run Where No One Comes Last

Updated: Mar 14, 2022

Well it looks like my New Year's plans to start blogging more were not successful, this is the first blog of the year... oops!

While I haven't been crushing the blogging, I have taken up running. I pride myself on being the least sporty person in the world. I don't even watch any sport, I didn't watch England in the final of the football, though I do think Gareth Southgate is a really nice man, I used the time when England was playing to get a big shop done when the shops were quiet. I don't even watch the Olympics. At school I got a certificate in PE..... for remembering to bring my kit. So when I say I've taken up running it is very much mum running interspersed with walking like Rhianna.

I've started Couch to 5k, it's an app that gets non runners to be able to run 5k in 9 weeks. It is a mixture of walking and running and Sarah Millican tells me when to walk and run. I think she has told me I'm doing smashing, I'm desperate for her to tell me I'm doing champion. So far I've been able to do it and I'm on week 6 and I've mainly been running on a treadmill. However I have started doing Parkrun. Parkrun is a weekly timed 5k run which is aimed at supporting mental health. There is a policy that no one comes last as they have a tail walker. So much fitness these days is so toxic, with no pain no gain and some nonsense about obsession and dedication. Parkrun really is different, people run with their dogs and some run with buggies. The organisation prides itself on being friendly and faster runner run around slower runners rather than slower runners being obliged to get out of the way of the 'proper runner'. I am slightly cynical and saw all this on the website, and thought it was just words, but it is true. On my first run I could hear someone behind me and i moved to get out of his way. He shouted " no we run around you it's fine.. keep going". There really is encouragement for slower runners. It's about taking part.

It's easy to talk about the snowflake generation and no one comes last but, in terms of supporting new runners and mental health Parkrun is getting is spot on. It's easy to think I'll join a running club when I can run, but you'll never be able to run until you give it a try. We all strive to be the best we can be, but in some areas of life, it really doesn't matter. I want to be good at my job, people trust me and it's important, but does it matter how fast I can run 5k? I've had some sunshine, got some steps in and patted some dogs...oh and spoke to some people. I'm never going to miss patting a dog for a better time. Sometimes we just need to give ourselves permission to be a bit rubbish at something. If you're ok with trying new things in the knowledge that you are not going to start of good, you will feel confident to try new things and might find you get good at it or even better you just find you enjoy it.

We know that regular exercise is good for our physical and mental health and that is why I'm running. I'm a woman of a certain age and want to look after my health, but the mental health benefits are the real benefit for me. My Dad died a month ago and the pain is so unbearable I'm numb. Dad fought a long and brave fight with Parkinson's and watching him struggle was just awful. He's at peace now. I'm not going to lie, it's a tough time to be an atheist. It would be nice to believe he is floating around on a cloud playing a harp in a toga, but I don't. He's gone and it hurts. Grief is normal and it's a process that I need to go through. Grief is complex and it's not always feeling sad. I know I am getting more irritated by things that would normally just bug me a bit. I was raging at needing to change my passwords to access some lectures, I normally just tutt a bit. I wake up all the time and that sucks. I usually struggle to get to sleep, but when I do get to sleep, not much wakes me. I do feel like I sleep better if I've done some exercise. I think I can think a bit clearer and not be as irritated. I've never been able to sit still long enough to meditate, something active suits me more. Am I trying to run my grief away? maybe, but i know I function better if I've exercised a bit.

I've downloaded an app called 5k that is linked to Parkrun and you can see your progress, you can also challenge yourself in fun ways. For example run the Parkruns starting with the letters of your name. I was all up for that then realised I have two Us and a Z in my name. But you can also get a pirate award which is run the Parkruns with seven Cs and an R. That might involve a little travel but I can do it in the UK. I will also be able to easily get the five different locations award. I've already done three.

I've been making TikToc videos about my journey check them out here or you can also find them on Instagram here . Follow me as I navigate my way through grief, any non-toxic runner tips welcome.

Lessons learned so far:

You don't need to be good at something to start, don't be afraid to be rubbish at something.

Exercise is good for physical and mental health.

Parkrun rocks

Patting a dog is better than getting a fast time, I was overtaken by a woman who had stopped to pick up dog poo. I can't blame it all on dogs I'm a slow runner.

I'll be a bit gutted if Sarah Millican doesn't say I'm doing champion at some point.

Parkinson's sucks.

Grief sucks.

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