My name is Matt and I’m a parkrunner. You could almost imagine being sat on a plastic chair, in a circle of plastic chairs and bearing your soul to a group of complete strangers, given that first statement. But running can also be an addiction, albeit a healthy one, to a point.
Parkrun is a great event which attracts tens of thousands of runners every week in the UK alone. I’m one of those runners. Though I’m fast approaching my 54th birthday, my aim is to cover the 5KM distance as quickly as possible. In doing so, I have to combat age, injuries, sugary foods and the three stone or more I’ve amassed in the past thirty years. On the upside, I used to run and compete back then, so I come back to running with a good understanding of training methods. Through this blog I hope to highlight some of these methods plus newer ideas in regards to health, training and diet. I hope you enjoy my posts and look forward to your comments.
I came back to running at the back end of 2012 after 2 years of persistent injuries. During the time I was injured, it had crossed my mind (more than once) that my participation in sport was over. Having played sport, competitively or just for fun, most of my life, this was not a future I would easily accept.
When I started running again I was in constant pain. One of my injuries had been ligament damage in the right knee. It meant I ran with a hobbling style and it would have been easy right then to call it a day. I took the decision to join a gym, to strengthen up and use their cardiovascular equipment to regain fitness.
After several months of using the gym I had managed to drop my hobbling style, plus a little of the 3 stone I had added to my frame during my ‘2 year’ exercise sabbatical. In no way am I suggesting that anyone else should exercise while in pain, it was purely a personal decision I took of my own accord. However, I was now in a better place to return to running outdoors.
Nearly all my running is done off-road, mainly on canal towpaths. This is to lessen the impact on my delicate joints, and also my dog can go off-lead and take an occasional dip in the canal, in all weather. Regaining fitness was a slow process, but I was aided by discovering the Parkrun. There is no doubt that having this event to focus on, gave me the focus and incentive to train regularly and harder than I would have done otherwise.
My first Parkrun was at the back end of 2013 over the course at Leamington Spa. This was an important day as it gave me a benchmark time (28.46) to improve on future occasions. In 2014 I was beginning make inroads. My times were improving and I supplemented my runs at Leamington by entering the Coventry Parkrun.
In my late teens and early twenties, I was member of a running club (Northampton Phoenix Athletics Club). I knew back then that I was more suited to racing on hard, flat courses, so it was no surprise that Coventry Parkrun better served my purposes. My times continued to improve in line with my training. I was now in the sub 26 mins range.
The autumn of 2014 brought about the introduction of the Daventry Parkrun. Being my nearest course, I now run this one the majority of the time. By the end of the year I had managed to sneak just below the 25 minute mark. It took a good block of training covering several weeks in the summer of 2015 to set a new best of 23.57. That’s where I’m at now.
Over the winter months I’ve trained consistently with the intention of building a stronger fitness base to attempt faster runs in 2016. I’ve used a variety of training methods that I will go into in detail in future posts. I can’t say this training will turn out to be successful, but I’m confident, and if it doesn’t work, I’ll try something else.