I was meaning to have a go at Parkrun for a long time before I plucked up the courage/effort to finally put that printed barcode sitting on top of the books (with the random collection of pens/school notes and keys that open who knows what) to use. I’m sure there are a heap of applicable motivational phrases to insert here about the first step, every journey starting somewhere, you’ll never finish if you never start etc, but I don’t know if that is honestly the hardest part. Keeping going when all you want to do is give up is tough enough, but maybe the worst is someone else making you feel pretty shit about yourself when you were doing your best and actually feeling proud that you were making some positive changes to the sofa-dwelling, biscuit-eating version of yourself.
I’ve only completed 3 Parkruns so far – yes I intend to keep going – the first one was punctuated by stitches, walking stints and wanting to ironically enough run away when I realised I had finished only the first of two constituent laps. For the second, with a few midweek jaunts in between, my goal was to run (I use this verb loosely) for the whole distance and I did, so I guess that was progress. Week three felt harder for some odd reason, but there it was, done. I’m definitely not pre-children fitness, I don’t think my body will probably ever get there and there are more important things in life now that set me off on this run in the first place. Setting a good example to two small people, feeling fitter, being healthier, taking some time to do something just for me, to breathe, to stop – sometimes figuratively, sometimes literally – and look around, maybe do some of that mindful-type business. I didn’t think hurdling would become part of it, but it looks like vaulting my own insecurities is part of the process. Because when someone makes you feel crap about yourself it’s usually your own little gremlins coming to the surface. Much as you might tell yourself or wish that you don’t care what other people think, I think to a degree you’re either the type of person who lets things bother them or doesn’t. There aren’t many things I envy, but this virtue is one of them. You can do your best to thicken your skin, over age it kind of grows extra layers, but there will still be niggles that get under there. That’s part of what makes me who I am I suppose, which is fantastic. It might be my problem, but that doesn’t stop it pissing me off.
‘You weren’t last at least.’ That was the throwaway that got me. No, I wasn’t, but brooding overnight wound me up until I realised this didn’t just annoy me; in what will sound pathetically therapy-tastic, it hurt my feelings. Because what if I was? Firstly, what do you care, secondly, why do you care enough to comment and thirdly, does it make you feel good to blithely belittle someone trying to better themselves? As much as I should learn to ignore comments that were probably never intended to be anything more than passing, if you’d kept your remark to yourself I wouldn’t be worrying about whether people are laughing at me puffing and panting up the road, feeling sorry for my straining lycra as my bum protests at being hauled along. If I see someone having a go, my first thought is good for you rather than look at the state of them or mortification that they’re trailing along while Parkrun volunteers just want to get home.
So to finish here’s my motivational quote: no matter how slow I am, I am faster than the version of me sitting on that sofa. And if I am last I am still faster. I will probably never be first, I’m pretty certain at this stage in life I will never win an Olympic medal, but I’m trying (not trying to win a medal, just to be clear, just generally making a physical effort to move my lazy body and mind more). So I should probably try and sweat (ha!) the small stuff less. Easier said than done.