On Saturday I took part in my first 'parkrun'. This is a weekly 5k run organised by volunteers and held in 305 park locations across the UK (and 561 in the world). Once registered free of charge, runners receive a barcode that allows them to receive their result after each run, which can be in any participating park.
The New Year often signals the start of fitness campaigns for many people, but in some respects it's the hardest time of year to do so being in the midst of winter with shorter days and poor weather. It does however present the opportunity for a big psychological win if you can conquer these challenging factors and jump on the fitness wagon towards your chosen goal. ..
I'm a massive believer in the psychological benefits of running, as well as the more often talked about physical ones. Let's face it, daily life is fast paced, frantic and stressful for the majority of the population, so the opportunity to escape this world for a short while, on a regular basis, has to be a good thing.
Now with all my infinite wisdom and 29 years I know that everything in this life that you want you must work and work incredibly hard at and for. I used to think I was good at working at my weaknesses but really what I would do was work at what I was good at and try and become great at that and completely neglect the things I found the toughest.
The other weekend I was given the opportunity to run a 10k in Paris, amazing right? Yes, but that was mainly due to the Paris part, less the 10k. So let me fill you in on a little secret, before that weekend I had never run a 10k. So I was thinking, I wish that I had been told a few things about running your first 10k which would have made my life a little easier.
What a waste of a life. All those highs and lows. All those start again Mondays, and "Damn, I've blown it now" moments. Where in this NHS plan is there a mention of health and happiness, or dealing with the psychological side of weight gain, where does it mention being active and learning to love physical activity?
The first time it happened I was running on a busy street and three men in a white van beeped their horn and yelled something about my 'tight ass' as I crossed their path. I felt the heat rising to my face and a stab of anger in the pit of my stomach, but I thought 'whatever, they're just sad old men who don't know how to talk to women', I flipped them the bird and upped my pace.
So you nervously lined up at the start of a race this weekend eyeing up your competitors, checking to see if there is anyone of a similar build to you in what I like to call the Fat Runner Scan. You know for sure you won't win but for goodness sake don't let me come last you say to yourself, as you move towards the middle of the starting field in a final attempt to avoid the dreaded last place spot.