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What I learnt in 100 Parkruns

500 kilometres run at Parkrun, and I’m pretty sure I’ve loved almost every single one of them.

If you didn’t know, I first started Parkrun when I became jealous of my mum’s outing on a Saturday morning. I had never done exercise before and I HATED PE at school, so I was starting from zero. My first goal was to not walk for the whole 5km, my Mum supported me from the start, carrying a water bottle and passing it to me with a signal of a grunt from me on the way round.

But I certainly got the ‘running bug’ and pretty soon my Saturday mornings were based in a local park After a few months in to my new found love, I developed excruciating knee pain whenever I ran, I couldn’t go up the stairs and I had to stop running. It was pinned down to having completely flat feet, my arches collapsing upon pressure – this in-turn was causing my knees to turn in too.

Luckily it was realised quick enough to prevent any long term damage, and I was referred to both the physio and podiatrist. Here I was given insoles to correct the arch shape in both my feet as well as exercises to strengthen muscles around my knee joints to help. I also started attending gym classes, first circuits and then BodyPump and BodyAttack, these allowed me to complete the same exercises I had been given from the physio, but within a choreographed routine with great music and I no longer saw it as boring!

Gradually I started to get back in to running. I used the C25K plan, to make sure I didn’t jump in to quickly. But I reached a new problem…. Blisters. From my new insoles the friction was causing the largest of blisters, reaching 10cm along both feet at their worst. I couldn’t run without insoles and I couldn’t run with them.

Whilst I was attending the gym more and more, I still wasn’t ready to give up on Parkrunning yet. I had frequent podiatrist appointment, each time changing my insoles slightly, from softer to hard to memory foam top and anti-friction coating. Whilst my blisters reduced in size I started to accept they would never go away.

With this in mind, I would cover my feet in tape and dressings before every run, trying to either protect the blisters which hadn’t yet healed or prevent new ones. But nothing would stop them forming, I tried al types of tape, all angles of taping, tried bandages, two pairs of socks, massive dressing taped on to my feet. Nothing worked, but I was still not ready to give up Parkrunning.

By this time it had probably been two years since I’d started to see the podiatrist and physio. This time period allowed me to see the physical strength I had gained from attending gym classes, and continuous physio exercises. I was so desperate to run without getting blisters I ran without insoles. This ended badly, injuring my hip due to the way my feet cause my knees to drop in which affects the angle at my hip joint. Setting me back three months with absolutely no running.

In this time period, I worked hard on my physio exercises once again, determined still to get back to running. At this point I was close to 90 Parkruns, so a little frustrating as I would have reached my 100 in those three months, but everything happens for a reason, so I had too accept the reality and make sure I heal properly.

Breaking back in to running slowly and carefully when so close to my 100th was hard, but I knew it would be worth it.

Breaking in to the 90th run made it all the more closer and I started to realised how far I had come. I could now run without insoles once a week with no knee pain, lift weights I wouldn’t have dreamed of lifting, I had gone from never running to obsessive running to running for fun and I had reached the best possible conclusion.

So I reach my 100, and went back to the location of my 1st ever parkrun. I ran with two friends, talking the whole way round and it couldn’t have been nicer, plus I got to wear a hat with bells on!

So how to celebrate? I’ve decided to volunteer more at Parkrun, for 100 runs I had done 2 volunteers and for the amount I’ve got out of it, I knew it was time to give back. I have started this off in style with my first ever tail walk, which was also my dad’s first ever Parkrun!

Thank you so much for reading my Parkrun story, please get in touch if you have any questions because if you couldn’t tell I love to talk about Parkrun!

(I’ve even got my whole family in to Parkrun! From cousins to aunts to Albi my dog )

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