Saturday, 25 February 2012

New Contributor: Roger Rowe

What is a life-long athlete doing running just 5k each Saturday morning? Surely there are more important training sessions to be completed? It's just for beginners, or is it?

Funny the comments that one gets when someone who has been racing and training for 50 years (yes, fifty) turns up at his first parkrun in mid-January 2012. What are you doing here Rog? Been injured again? I thought you did your long-run on a Saturday?

The week before I arrived at Killerton parkrun I had hit 49,000 training miles, spread over the past 30 years. For 20 years before that I had been training for rugby -- and playing each week -- turning up for the occasional race on the back of that. My first race, a 6 mile cross country, I won -- just a little matter of 50 years ago in the autumn of 1961. So you can see that I am not exactly the normal 'parkrun rookie', even though I am looking forward to my 67th birthday at the end of March.

But run I did, running a PB (OK, yes I know it was my first)... but in the process taking some 1:20 off the V65 Killerton parkrun record (running 21:50). Now to many 65-year-olds that might seem rather quick, but to a 50-years-experienced 5,000 metre athlete it is not exactly earth shattering. After all I have a 60+ PB of 18:00 and 65+ PB of 19:10 (both SW Vets Records). But I was pleased to be amid the bunch of pleasant folk, and I got a real buzz from all the children giving it their all!

SO... 4 parkruns later (all Killerton), I have reduced the V65+ record 3 times in all, last week recording 21:18 (but injuring myself in the process)! Rats!!

Why am I now committed to parkrun? Easy, the people. No pressure, just a happy bunch of runners 'doing their thing' -- and of course, there's the rest of the day to do all those sessions that have (for now) been on the back-burner.

Now for a bit of parkrun tourism. Pity there is nothing closer than Bristol, Trowbridge and Poole... but I will turn up at one of those one of these Saturday mornings.

Keep on running... no matter what.


Friday, 24 February 2012

New Contributor: Graham Fisher - Why I started doing parkrun

Name:Graham Fisher
Home parkrun: Leeds
Date of first parkrun: 16/07/2011
Total Number of parkruns: 2
Number of other parkrun locations run: 3 – Roundhay (Leeds) Bradford Harrogate
Number of times volunteered: 7 or 8, I think!

When I was younger I hated doing exercise as I was quite shy, also being overweight. Back in 2005 I first joined a gym and I loved it makingnew friends that’s when I tackled my first Half Marathon in Leeds weighing inat 25 stone I managed to complete the course in 2hours 49minutes. When Ifinished I was really chuffed as I managed to complete something which I neverthought I could.

The following year I managed to combine my running withindoor rowing and with a 2 stone weight loss I managed to beat my Leeds HalfMarathon time by a massive ten minutes which was pleasing again but that’s whenother problems started.

I got ill through depression and I lost all interest in all exercisingand my weight went upto a massive 27stone 7lbs and I felt very uncomfortable Icould not walk hardly and I had big problems with circulation in my right leg.

February 2011 I had an operation to reduce my weight loss Ihad the Rou-en-Y procedure known as (Gastric Bypass) after the first six monthsI had lost 50% of my excess body weight that’s when I needed to get back intoexercising again.

Leeds Park Run (Hyde Park)

I heard about the parkrun on facebook and I thought I wouldregister and have a go at it.

When I first went to do the Leeds parkrun I thought to myself what am I doing here I was standing at the back makingsure that I was not seen. When we started I thought oh what the hell am hereand I will give it ago and to my surprise I finished in a reasonable time of 33:59.

I have worked hard on the parkrun and my current time forthe Leeds parkrun is at 29:00.

Doing the park run means a lot to me as I have made quite afew friends from my old running club and now my current club the Pudsey Pacers.What got to me was how friendly people were and when finishing near the lastthere are always people at the encouraging you.

I would admit that I am now addicted to doing the parkrun every week.


The Social Side of Huddersfield parkrun

The Social Side of Huddersfield parkrun

If anyone had told me a year ago that I would actively want to spend time with a bunch of runners I would have laughed and laughed until my head actually fell off!

But now, at least three times a week, I spend time in the wonderful company of the friends I have made through Huddersfield parkrun.  Sometimes it revolves around the running (Saturday parkrun) and sometimes (most of the time) it doesn't!

Just after Chris and I 'were handed the keys' to Huddersfield parkrun we were invited on our first social event to a gathering of Yorkshire parkrun team with our great leader PSH and the lovely, then area rep, Tom Williams.  To be honest, it was the first time that Chris and I had actually spent more that a few minutes in each others company, before that our only contact had been 'how do we upload the results again?'.  So, with some reservations, I picked the boy up from the park and off we went to Leeds. 

Now as most Huddersfield parkrunners know and anyone who listens to Radio Leeds, Chris’s sense of direction and navigational skills are as good as my driving skills.  Pretty none existent!  For some reason we decide to go in my car, a much loved 1997 Landrover Discovery called Bertha, who wallows on motorways like a hippo.  We set off with a good hour and a half to get there (Leeds is only 35 mins away tops).  What we both seem to have forgotten though is any details about where we are meeting other than 'the university'.  To cut a very long story (one hours and fifty minutes long, involving more than one motorway that we shouldn’t have been on, a couple of dodgy u-turns and maybe one short journey the wrong way up a one way street), short….we finally arrive at Leeds University to meet the other Yorkshire parkrun teams.  

And this was the first of many lovely evenings spent in the company of people who give a lot back.  We met Linda from Bradford parkrun who has been a constant support to us, especially in the early days.  She is the fountain of knowledge about all that is parkrun from a ED perspective.  There have been many frantic phone calls to Linda on a Saturday morning and she always answers the phone and always seems to be able to resolve the problem with minimum fuss.  Thank you Linda.  And then we met Simon from Roundhay parkrun who has inspired some of our parkrunners to run a marathon (madness!!).  He is a great ED to bounce ideas off and runs an extremely professional, hilly parkrun in a beautiful park in Leeds.  Hugs to Simon! We also had the pleasure of meeting many other parkrun teams and picking their brains and finding out how they run their parkruns has helped make Huddersfield parkrun what it is today.

After the get together we were invited by PSH to join him at the local curry house and the tradition of curry night socials made it’s first appearance on the Huddersfield parkrun social calendar.

(I am not even going to try to describe the journey home…..but you will be glad to know that we arrived home before midnight (just) and that this evening out cemented our crazy friendship.)

Before I met a lot of runners….I thought runners, ran….just ran and that’s about it.   I have since found out that the running side of things is just an excuse to 
  • go to the pub
  • eat cake
  • swap cake recipes
  • dress up in fancy dress
  • sledge
  • drink cocktails
  • not win a pub quiz
  • eat curry
  • eat cake
  • make cake
  • drink coffee until you feel drunk
  • drink coffee to sober up
  • laugh until you cry
  • help other achieve things they wouldn’t dream of trying
  • sample new cake recipes
  • spend a lot of time talking about bunnies
  • spend a lot of time trying to find a certain, attractive, single, tall, young man a date (email me for more details)
  • dance with abandon
  • run in the dark (although I am thinking that that is really and excuse to go the pub - see first bullet point)
  • support other running races
  • talk a lot about garmins (!!!)
  • know a lot about garmins (!!!)
  • talk a lot about cake
  • eat a lot of cake
  • get out of bed far to early on a Saturday morning
  • …….in fact the list is endless……and involves a lot of cake
The social side to Huddersfield parkrun is what makes parkrun so special, and by talking to other ED’s and all the wonderful tourist parkrunners that venture over to Huddersfield, it is the same in any parkrun in the country (world).  parkrun seems to bring out the best in people, it seems to bring people from all walks of life, with different opinions, different lifestyles; non runners and runners and somehow gel them together.  Maybe the government should look closely at parkrun for some ideas!!!

We are lucky at Huddersfield to have a great cafe next to the finish line, which has embraced parkrun whole heartedly (even opening up on New Years Day….just for us!  I really do need my coffee fix).  It is here that our parkrunners stop to warm up and chat.  It is here that friendships have been made and nights out planned, where tips for improving your run and marathon training plans are shared, where PB one second misses have been commiserated and new PBs celebrated…..and a lot of cake eaten and coffee drank!

So… wrap up this rambling blog…..if you want a Saturday night out, with a bit of running talk……or Saturday morning run with a bit of night out talk…..whatever your running ability, whatever your outlook in life, whatever your age (preferably 25-29 age bracket, female for our single, attractive, good looking male)….then come and join us at parkrun…….any parkrun!

To find one near you check out the website

Parkrun course description: Cardiff Parkrun

At Cardiff Parkrun, we have the privilege to run through parts of Cardiff's biggest city centre public park known as Bute Park, which was originally created as the private garden to Cardiff Castle by the Head Gardener for the Third Marquess of Bute between 1873 and 1901.  In 1947, a significant proportion of the grounds were given to the people of Cardiff by the Fifth Marquess of Bute, along with Cardiff Castle and Sophia Gardens. 

Bute Park gets over one million visitors every year and has 59 hectares of parkland (approx 75 football pitches).  A water bus even operates from the park to Cardiff Bay.
Approximately the first kilometre of our Parkrun is set alongside parts of the renowned  River Taff which takes us up to the weir. 

This path also forms part of the Taff Trail.  The Taff Trail is a popular walking and cycling path that runs for 55 miles (89km) between Cardiff Bay and Brecon. It is named so because it follows  the course of the River Taff.

On approaching the weir, we then enter into the famous Bute Park where we continue to run for the next three kilometres, before returning back to the weir and onto the homeward stretch to the finish line.

Here are some of us approaching the weir before entering Bute Park.

The three kilometres through Bute Park are filled with many historic, horticultural and environmental features. 
Finally, on leaving Bute Park and approaching the weir again, we continue  for the final stretch along the Taff Trail towards the finish.
There are numerous volunteers throughout the entire course who always give us great support and encouragement.

I hope this Cardiff Parkrun description has given you an indication of the pleasure that 300+ Cardiff runners experience every Saturday morning. 
Thank you for taking the time to read it. 

Thursday, 23 February 2012

The quest for a personal best

I can’t remember my personal best for 10k. I know I set it in Whitstable last May, and I think it was 50 something minutes, but I’d have to check. Same for half marathon – definitely the Great Birmingham Run last October and 1:52ish, or maybe 1:53ish. But for 5k I know for sure. It’s 22:15 and before that it was 22:59 and before that it was 23:00.

Before parkrun with its official timing on a measured 5k route, the opportunity to improve on a pb came a few times a year at big events. Now it is every week. But that doesn’t make it easier to beat.
My first time at the Greenwich parkrun was 23:27. Around that time I did a Biomechanical Assessment at the Running School in Battersea. This gave me some insights into improving my technique. Arms swinging from the shoulder with the hands moving from hip to shoulder height. Legs lifting the heels high, not shuffling along. Feet striking under the line of the body not ahead of it. All that felt extremely weird the first time I did it, but eventually it helped me get my pb down to 23:00.

But then I got stuck on 23:00 for several weeks, and I felt like I needed a new strategy. The Greenwich parkrun is three circuits of a route around Avery Hill Park. In the first half of the route there are some downhill sections and in the second half there is a long incline. I decided to try to let gravity pull me along on the down hills, and to really surge on the uphill.

This strategy helped me to break my 23 jinx, marginally and partially. I finished in 22:59, one second inside my pb, and I was in 23rd place in the field of 80+ runners.

The next breakthrough came from comments from a fellow runner at the City Runners Club based in Bermondsey Square. He said that when he finishes a race, he has nothing left. So when he sees people doing an incredible sprint at the end of an event, he thinks: ‘Why didn’t you run faster for the whole race?’

I didn’t say anything at the time but I realised that I was on one of those final sprinters. So I decided that I would really push it for the whole 5k next time. And it worked. My final sprint was barely discernible and I took 44s off my PB.  I’m not sure how I’m going to top that but I’m sure I will some time soon. With parkrun, I have the potential to try every week. But I’m rather taken with advice quoted by a fellow parkrunfans blogger Ian Golden: 'only ever go for a PB once a month and rest a couple of days prior to the attempt, other than that just enjoy it'.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Never been a runner.. until now!

After 16 months of serious knee injuries, operation and extensive physio I'm getting back to wards my active life. Never been a runner.. until now!

I ran at the first Newbury parkrun 2 weeks ago.. and then again the following week and now it looks like I might be getting a bit addicted. After years of saying I don't like 'just running for the sake of running', I'm finding myself always gagging for the next run. Unfortunately I still have to wait for the knee pains to recover a bit before I can.

Doing these 5k's is a massive milestone in my recovery.

In my first ever 5k run, at the beggining of Feb, I did 27 minutes. This saturday (3 weeks later) I ran 22 minutes.

So I'm thinking in 2 months or so I should be the world record holder.

Posted on behalf of Tom White

New Contributor: Kerry Noble Huddersfield parkrun

Name: Kerry Noble
Home parkrun: One half (the better looking half) of the ED team at Huddersfield parkrun
Date of first parkrun:  Volunteering 16/04/2011, running 19/11/2011
Total number of parkruns:  Volunteering 28+, running 4
Number of other parkrun locations run:  Cambridge (lovely flat course), Roundhay (lovely hilly course), Volunteered at Oldham (Wet, wet, wet)
My parkrun history:

Let me firstly point out, that I am not a runner.  And really, it is likely that I will never be a real runner.  It has been pointed out by the team at Huddersfield parkrun that as I have actually run a parkrun now, that I am technically a runner......but at the moment I am still denying it!  What I am though, is a passionate advocate of the wonders of parkrun.

I first was introduced to parkrun by my lovely friend (who is a runner) Sharon Whitworth (she has a lot to answer to), who suggested that my son, Jack (14), would like to pop down to the park for a quick run.  So, early one Saturday morning (very early, don't you know it's a Saturday and he's a teenager) we set off to Greenhead Park.  I duly dumped the teenager where all the runners were milling around and went off to buy my bacon sandwich.....just as I was about to sit down, with a coffee, eat said bacon sandwich and read the papers, the cry for volunteers came from the community room.  I looked at my coffee, bacon sandwich and paper and for some reason, totally unknown to man, I raised my hand and said "I can help out"......little did I know then what I would end up doing!

Three weeks later, Chris Smith (my parkrun wife) and I were handed the keys to Huddersfield parkrun and wished good luck! 

Since then I have made friends with runners, reluctant runners and non runners.  I have helped create the monster that is known as the Huddersfield Running Bunny (check out it's facebook page, taken part in four actual running parkruns, eaten my body weight in cake, been part of a midnight sledging competition (I won), found myself dressed up in a park at 7.30am more times than is probably right (check out the photos on our facebook page, supported parkrunners running other races, made a lot of bunny signs, danced in the disco dungeon, handed out Jaffa Cakes at Darkrun, won a drink at the pub quiz, admired a lot of men in tights, spent Christmas morning with incredible people ......and have laughed and laughed and laughed!

Huddersfield parkrun is probably one of the least sane parkruns.  We have a very large core group of volunteers, who at best are a little bit crazy and at worse are down right dangerous.  They seem to enjoy dressing up to run (?), have a love of bunnies and tell everyone they meet about parkrun.  Our numbers have grown in a year from the 75 mark to over 200 and they seem to be heading quickly to the 250 mark.  They also spend a lot of time making and eating cake!

At Huddersfield parkrun we have a lovely park to run in.  Greenhead Park is situated just half a mile from the centre of Huddersfield and has just had a whopping amount of money spent on restoring it to it's former glory.  It has the best parkrun cafe in the world (they have a certificate and medal to prove it) which now opens very early in order that I can get coffee (required part of parkrun), and is packed post fact is so busy now they have had to expand into the community room.  The park also has a pretty cool zip wire.....which we have found totally confuses the Garmin and is impossible to log on Fetch!

I will be posting more about Huddersfield parkun, some sensible posts, some not so sensible, soon.

In the meantime.....why not come and visit us......we don't bite......most of the time ;-)

Kerry x

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Great way to finish the week

Norwich parkrun, 18th Feb 2012, approx 6 degrees and windy. This is my 2nd blog and my 2nd ever parkrun, my 1st was two weeks ago in freezing icy conditions, today's run was officially warmer, but because of the wind, it didn't feel it. I have titled this blog "Great way to finish the week" because this week I set myself a personal challenge, I started training July 2011 (so about 7 months, give or take a week), in that time, I have taken up running and cycling, entered a couple of events (a 60 mile bike ride, a 5K fun run and a 10K NYD run) and I've lost 4.2 stone in weight and I've always done things by the book, training 1 day on, 1 day off, but like I said, I wanted to test myself, so decided to train 7 days on the trot, with parkrun being the 7th day session, so Sunday I ran 10K, Monday I cycled 20K, Tuesday I cycled 20K, Wednesday I ran 10K, Thursday I ran 5K, Friday I spent an hour with a personal trainer working on my core and arms, which led perfectly in to Saturday morning at 9am in Eaton Park, Norwich, where as always, I thought I can run a PB!(well it was icy last time so why not) I had learned a valuable lesson last time, do not start the run in with the front pack of sub 20 runners, as you get swept away with the whole adrenalin thing and are burned at 2.5K!! So I stayed back at the back of the front 3rdish and off I went, I knew the course, I knew the finish line, I felt great because of what I'd already achieved this week, 6 in 6 and now number 7!!!! I listened to my running music and Lose Yourself by Eminem got me moving at a good pace, it didn't matter that it was cold or windy, nothing could stop me and I'm always a good finisher! 286 runners were out there and I was flying, until my 43 year old legs decided, enough was enough this week Mr Golden, we need some rest and at that point they started to feel heavy, the wind seemed stronger, the air going in to my lungs felt colder and HEY! Who are all these people overtaking me, especially YOU running with your dog!! But I kept pushing through it because I knew once I got round the boating lake I was nearly there and I'm a great finisher!! Well except for today! There was no great finish, there was no sprint pass 5 other runners to knock a few places and a few seconds off my time, there was just a steady plod over the finish line, I took my chip from the fantastic volunteers and queued up with my barcode to get scanned, knowing I hadn't quite done enough to get a PB because of my ploddy finish, but happy in the knowledge that I had infact completed my personal challenge of 7 in 7, so I went in to the park cafe and treated myself to a cup of black coffee and a slice of banana cake. I then walked back to the car with a seasoned parkrunner and a serious 5Ker, who gave me some excellent advise "only ever go for a PB once a month and rest a couple of days prior to the attempt, other than that just enjoy it and you'll be Suprised how well you do" So 2.5 hours after I finished my run, I was ecstatic when I received my parkrun text saying "Ian, your time in position 148 today at Norwich parkrun was 25:08. Well done on a new PB!!!!" I did it, 7 in 7 and a new PR PB. Now that's a great way to finish a week!! See you in two weeks time. Ian Golden (follow me on Twitter @iangolden)

New Contributor: Vicki "whippet" Thompson

Name: Vicki Thompson
Home parkrun: Was Sunderland, then Newcastle, and now defecting to Gateshead
Running Club: Jarrow & Hebburn AC
Date of first parkrun: 10/10/2009
Total Number of parkruns: 25
Number of parkrun locations run: 4
Number of times volunteered: none (I work alternating Saturdays)
My parkrun history:

A bit about me

I used to be really big, way to big for running, although I was a pretty decent runner when I was at school.  I briefly had the school record for the girls 1500m, and I was a canny cross country runner, won a bunch of trophies and medals for wins at a local level. But when I left school I piled on the weight, did no exercise whatsoever, and ate loads of takeaway food.  It's a shame really 'cause I could have really made a decent runner through my twenties, but instead I ballooned out till I hit 16st 9lb.

I met my fantastic hubby Andy and decided to try and lose a bit of weight, didn't really want to go mad, just enough to get healthy, but once I got the bit between my teeth the weight dropped off.  It would have been fantastic if parkrun had been around in the North East when I started with the exercise, as it's a great place for beginners to find their feet, but at the time I just started on my own.  I used my mam's cross trainer, then went to the baths (swimming really helped) then met a lady called Helen who introduced me to her running club group, and set about really giving running a go.

Like parkrun, running for a club is a great benefit to any runner, regardless of their ability, and I'd encourage anyone to give their local club a go.  Since joining my club I've lost a load more weight (and kept it off for eight years), won a few medals as a veteran athlete (over 35), got a podium finish in a few races, and for the last few years I've been the North East Harrier league (cross country) ladies secretary as well as doing results for the Vet's Athletics NE Track & Field.

The main thing I think about is that if I can do it, then anyone can give it a go!
Newcastle parkrun Christmas Eve

 1st Gateshead parkrun