Today is the anniversary (well its actually tomorrow date wise) of us starting to run, a year doesn’t seem that long ago but considering what we’ve done, the new friends we’ve made and the changes in both lifestyle and fitness for us both it has turned into one of the best decisions we’ve made.
This time last year we ventured out of our front door for the first steps of our journey as the app. on Wendy’s phone gave us the first instructions of the couch to 5k programme (C25K). A few minutes later, after a brisk warm up walk was our first run, a minute, it nearly killed us! And then it repeated and made is do it again!
After a few sessions of ‘phone app’ I found the C25K programme as a podcast on the NHS website, no more phone fumbling, just press play and go so over the following 9 weeks that’s exactly what we did, following ‘really well’, ‘almost there’ Laura slowly but surely the program was turning us into runners. We even ran on holiday, we’d caught ‘the bug’. New shoes, running watches, technical clothing, the lot, we were hooked good and proper and enjoying every sweat drenched minute, it was great.
We’d hit week nine and surprisingly had not actually died, although it sometimes felt like we should have. The next task was to find some sort of group that we could run with, not too serious but a regular ‘thing’.
Enter parkrun and SRC.
I really cannot shout about parkrun enough, it is truly amazing. Run by volunteers throughout most of the UK (and worldwide) and supported by some big named brands it is a timed 5k run (not a race) for everyone, whether you are a sprinter or a plodder, a hare or a tortoise. You don’t even need to be a runner, there are lots of opportunities to help out, it truly is a community effort where every Saturday morning people of all shapes and sizes gather together and run, volunteer or just turn up for a chat.
Our first visit to Preston parkrun and we were a little nervous, parked too far away and had no idea what to do, it seems strange looking back at it now, we were like the new kids at school with no friends. We soon spotted a gent with some direction signs at what we later learned was the finish and he assured us we were in the right place. After a quick chat with Shane (the gent in question) the area soon started to fill up and after a run briefing by Michael and a short walk to the start, we were off. Finishing we caught up with Shane who grinning told us we’d back back as running was addictive, he must have seen something in us as it’s been like this for the best part of a year, if possible on Saturday we attend either Preston or Cuerden Valley (a rather hilly younger brother of Preston) parkrun for a run, coffee, cake and the weeks catch up with new friends.
We also needed something to do mid-week and after getting some new shoes from our local Sweatshop in Chorley we’d been told about a free running group organised out of Sweatshop that ran on Wednesday nights about 5k distance, perfect. SRC (Sweatshop Running Community) is another amazing group of people. From the fastest to the slowest, everyone is accommodated as there is always a tail runner and they run a loop system where every so often the front runners ‘loop’ back to the end. A brilliant system and a fantastic way to keep everyone involved.
Running up and down the hilly streets of Chorley is great and we’ve made a lot of good friends but the streets are only part of it. SRC also do trail running, yes… we were going off road.
For me, this was the thing I’d been looking for although I hadn’t realised it. Trail running is great, no (or hardly any) roads, beautiful countryside and good friends. I’ve run up and down some areas of Lancashire I didn’t even know existed and I’ve lived here all my life, not only that, it’s a fantastic way of keeping fit and a perfect excuse for the little boy in me to get muddy.
Races… who’d have thought it?
We’ve enjoyed ourselves so much this year with parkrun, SRC and on our own we even entered a few ’proper’ races. Our first was a target for us, a 10k race in Southport called MadDog and as it was the start of February on a sub zero wind chilled day we certainly felt mad but we did it, we were exhausted but elated, we still couldn’t believe that after only 5 months we’d just run 10k (just over 6 miles).
We’ve run a couple of local trail runs, Muddy Bottoms and Muddy Shoes (that really is the names), nothing particularly speedy but it gave us a feel for the trail run type of race where not only did you have to run up and down hills, you had to navigate as well. A few of the SRC crew joined us for both, winning or placing very highly in the results for both and everyone was very encouraging reinforcing the feeling of community that runners everywhere seem to share.
And then the big one, I entered and ran the Freckleton Half Marathon a 13.1 mile run or as it turned out 21,097 meters of sun baked, heat exhausted, Tarmac pounding running around the South Fylde countryside. I had a great time although coming through the finish I felt that I could quiet easily keel over and die right there and then, I don’t think I’ve ever sweated so much or been so physically tired.
We’ve since run a few other local 10k races, most recently the City of Salford 10k where we ran with some of our friends from SRC and 2,500 other runners round an almost perfect flat, fast course round Salford Quays.
So what’s next?
I’ve another race coming up in about a month, The Rivington Trail Half Marathon, which as it’s name suggests is 13.1 miles up and down Lancashire’s hills. I’m looking forward to it as once more there are a group of us attending.
We’ve both entered the Inskip Half Marathon at the back end of January next year to keep focussed over the winter, in other words, to stop us sitting on our asses all winter, watching TV and re-gaining all the weight we’ve lost and losing all the fitness we’ve gained.
The big one
I’ve entered the Snowdonia Trail Marathon, I couldn’t help myself, I saw the website and instantly thought “YES! I’m doing that”! 26.2 miles of running up and down the hills and mountains of southern Snowdonia National Park. I’ve entered the Marathon with Martin, a friend from SRC and I’m convinced we’re both mad and that it’ll kill us but we’re going to give it a damn good try, hit it as hard as we can and hopefully have a good laugh along the way. Wendy has entered the half on the pretext of giving herself something to do while we run the full distance, she’s obviously slightly less insane than us, in fact looking at it logically, 50% less insane.
And that’s that, one year ago today running to the bus would have killed me, and yet next year I’m looking at running over 26 miles around Snowdonia National Park…
Thank you C25K,
thank you parkrun,
thank you SRC,
thank you running community,
you’ve change my life and it’s great.