The first 14 weeks, bringing you up to pace…

Just a parkrunner. That’s me. Welcome to my running blog – hopefully something a bit different to the many other running blogs out there, I hope to grab your interest and provoke discussion, exchange ideas and help each other through these posts.

So we’ll start with me – I’m a 45 year old happily married father of two boys living in Barrow-in-Furness, at the southern tip of the Lake District and Cumbria. That geography doesn’t instantly make me some kind of fell runner, despite my home run being the “undulating” Barrow parkrun, I prefer a flat course to any kind of incline.

I’m also new to running. My first 5k parkrun was on 26th April this year and was the climax of all of two weeks of training. “Couch to 5k” in 14 days not being a recognised training program you’ll find anywhere, it was a self designed fast-track program that had many pitfalls and I’d recommend any beginner to take more time (and advice) than I did.

So what makes a 45 year old suddenly take up running? I work in engineering in a manufacturing plant that has a lot of stairs and one day was unleashed from my desk bound role to help my factory based colleagues on a major repair task. This involved climbing those staircases to a 10 metre floor level quite a number of times and by the end of the day my legs were shot. Having worked “on the tools” years ago, I recalled how I would have once sprinted up these stairs all day without a complaint. Something needed to be done, I’d become a 45 year old couch potato and despite being just over six feet tall and of slim build, the reflection from the mirror had a scary look of the Ian Beale belly facing me.

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I’d read about the parkrun and as a weekly newspaper columnist I had written about the local runners taking on the run on Christmas Day when it fell on a Saturday, although I don’t recall if I wrote praising them for their dedication or mocking them for their crazyness.

I had run before – at school, not fast, but preferred the longer distances. My final cross-country event could have been a creditable time but the 16 year old Mark Atkinson told me that if I passed him I’d be a dead man so I settled for finishing on his heels.

I set out on that first parkrun in April full of determination to post a decent time despite my really poor training regime and somehow finished in a time of 28:52. I’d amazed myself and it was probably this got me hooked. Had I stumbled over the line in 45 minutes I’d probably have ticked the parkrun off as task completed, hit the couch again and thought no more of it. But under 30 minutes got me thinking, how fast could I go if I trained properly?

The week after that first run saw me at the physio with a dodgy back and I was hobbling everywhere, this convinced me that I needed to do a bit more training if I was to continue. A week of nursing the back and properly stretching, warming up and testing myself at shorter distances saw me back at Barrow park a week later and posting a PB of 27:56.

Weeks 3 and 4 also had “PB” stamped next to them and I was now down to 26:10 and the runners I was unofficially pacing off were now behind me (thanks Jacqui)!

The social side of Barrow parkrun was another bonus, meeting at the cafe post-run and swapping stories, eating cakes and enjoying the banter yet still being home in time to have not missed any of my normal weekend routine was a huge plus. I’d hooked up with the friendliest bunch I’d ever met.

By week 6 the time was down to 25:13 with my 4th PB and I wondered if sub-25 was possible for me? I was sure going to try for it and week 7 saw me agonisingly close at 25:01 and I well and truly had the bug. Another fortnight of PB’s and I was at 23:51 before taking a week out to do the “color run” in Manchester.

The Color run was mad, lots of fun, but absolutely no pace whatsoever, although it was a great day out with plenty of other Barrow runners there too. News came by text as I was in the starting funnel that I’d been awarded parkrunner of the month back home in Barrow and that just made the day even better.

A new £100 pair of Asics runners on my feet for my runner of the month prize (thanks Barrow parkrun and Sweatshop) and I was back to posting a PB of 23:19 at my thirteenth parkrun on the thirteenth anniversary of my Dad passing away – I’m not saying there was help from another place, but I was determined to give it my best shot for my Dad’s memory, although I’m sure I heard his wicked laugh when I fumbled my water botle pick-up on lap two in the style of a slapstick circus clown.

So that brings us up to date, 14 weeks into my running career – I’ll posting here at least weekly and hope to feature some of the other parkrunners – if you have a Barrow parkrun story you want to share, drop me a line and we’ll get your story on here.

My parkrun stats are here

Happy running!

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