Having reached my first goal of being able to run for 30 minutes non-stop, I needed some new motivation to make sure I continued running. I do really enjoy it, but still, when it’s dark, cold and wet going outside is not appealing, and especially not in running gear.
The first thing I did was set myself a new target, as this gives me something to aim for, a purpose. As I said in my last post about getting into running, I decided to aim for a 5k in under 25 minutes. It seems a bit out of reach right now, but I can remember when running 5k in under 30 minutes seemed unthinkable. At some point it became realistic, but when I hit it, it still seemed like an amazing achievement. Now, I can comfortably run 5k in under 30 minutes, which still seems a little bit surreal to me. I just wasn’t the fit and sporty type at school.
I also tried not to worry too much about running three times a week, as long as I was doing some cardio. We have an exercise bike at home, so for most of January and February I did a couple of sessions on the bike, and then a run at the weekend when I could go out in the light. It might not be running practice, but it’s cardio at least, and I figure doing something is better than nothing at all. Now that I’m having a break between jobs, I can run during the day, and on top of that, the days are getting lighter so once I start working again, I should be able to run before or after work so the bike sessions are decreasing.
The other thing I did was start going to parkrun. I read several running blogs online, so was already aware of the existence of parkrun, but for some reason it had never even occurred to me to find one near me. It was only when I managed to run for 30 minutes that I considered it. I think that until then, I didn’t really consider parkrun as being for people ‘like me’ who couldn’t run the whole way, and definitely didn’t think I was capable of doing it. Now I wish I’d started going earlier – they are so welcoming, and my local parkrun (Bramley, in Leeds) is actively encouraging people to go and walk it if they don’t want to run. parkrun is for everyone.
Anyway, I texted a colleague who I knew a) lived near my local parkrun and b) was training for the Leeds Half Marathon to see if she’d ever been. She hadn’t, but we agreed to meet up and try it the following weekend. It took a total of one run for me to get completely hooked. In fact, I couldn’t make the parkrun the week after as I had already planned to visit friends for the weekend, so I ended up going to their local parkrun instead!
So far it’s been a complete mix of nice easy running, and really trying to push my pace to see what I can do. The friend I go with is a bit slower than me (she’s going for endurance given she’s aiming to run a half marathon, whereas I’m aiming to improve my 5k speed), which is perfect for me if I want an easyish run. The times I’ve really pushed it, I’ve been really happy with my pace – my fastest were 26:50, another 26:50 (seriously, again?!), 26:51 (so much wind) and the most recent run, finally, 26:43. I’ll do a recap of my most recent run another time, as my pace was…interesting!
The main thing to take from this is I LOVE parkrun. It’s just awesome. Everyone is so supportive, the volunteers are fantastic, and the atmosphere is so welcoming. It’s just so much fun!