I wrote here about how recently, I’ve really started enjoying running for the first time. Obviously, about two days after I wrote that, I suffered a paterllar subluxation (read: dislocated my knee repeatedly) and I was out of action on the running front for over 3 months. At the beginning, I found this really frustrating, because I’d really seen my running improve and it was sad thinking of how much work I’d have to do to get back there again – but quickly it became apparent that my injury was quite serious, and I was more concerned at, say, being able to hobble to a summer BBQ, or make it round Glastonbury festival, than I was about being able to run again. That seemed like a bonus – or even, at times, a mystical dream!
Finally, about three weeks ago now, I had my final physiotherapy appointment and my (excellent) physiotherapist at BMF agreed I could start running again, on the proviso that I took it slowly to start with. I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to get back into it, wouldn’t remember what I liked about it – but it was a beautiful evening so I put my trainers on, downloaded Strava and trotted off. Since then I’ve built up very slowly, never going fast and being particularly careful at high kerbs and so on so as not to put too much pressure on my (so far extremely well behaved) right knee.
My fitness was shot, despite my best efforts at maintaining it via a bit of exercise biking/cross training, but it began to come back again to the point where I agreed to accompany my husband to a park run on Saturday morning. Ian is an insane runner and has tried to drag me to a park run – 5k free ‘fun runs’ held at various parks around the UK – on many an occasion before, but I was worried about coming last (I might enjoy running, but speedy I am not). However this time, fresh from an injury, I thought, well – fuck it, why not? Someone has to come last, and if that someone is only two weeks out of recovering from a gigantic knee injury then that someone surely has a decent enough excuse. So I printed off my barcode and told Ian I’d come.
I wanted to change my mind a.) on Friday night, when it was beautifully sunny and I really fancied a glass of wine or 4; b.) on Saturday morning when the alarm went off and I thought ‘why, why can’t I stay in bed eating croissants and drinking lattes and reading the paper?’ c.) when I lined up amongst the 200 or so other park runners who were wearing an impressive amount of Lycra and all looked vaguely intimidating en masse. But I didn’t.
Southwark is a beautiful park run and the weather was perfect and I thoroughly enjoyed my first lap, running on about half an hour pace, but then it all went a bit pear shaped – I slowed down quite significantly and got overtaken by about 100 people, which was a bit disheartening. Luckily, Ian, who had lapped me once already, had finished his race by the time I started my third lap (insane) and jogged round with me, encouraging me all the way and feeding me Lucozade energy. I managed to have a second wind, particularly on spotting someone who looked – no offence – like they’d been up all night partying. I made it my mission to beat them, sprinted the very last few metres and succeeded, crossing the line in just over 36 and a half minutes.
It was by no way a PB and I know 5k is less than a lot of people jog on a casual evening, but following my injury I really felt I’d achieved something – and I also fell completely in love with park runs. The volunteers were all amazing, cheering everybody round – fast or slow – and someone even presented us with freshly baked chocolate cookies at the end, which I fell upon like I hadn’t eaten for a week! Going home I felt so smug that I’d got all my exercise out of the way in time for the weekend (a weekend spent drinking prosecco, but more on that tomorrow) and I knew, annoyingly, that I’d definitely be doing it again!
Oh – and I didn’t come last! I came about 198th, but not last! And Ian came third. Of like, 210 people. Ridiculous.
Have you ever done a park run? What did you think of it?