Running is wisdom in motion; running is good for your physical health, for your mental health, for the environment, for the neighborhood, for your family, for the local economy, for the national economy, for the earth.
Run with a group and you spread the benefits – its not like butter – with running the more you spread the benefits, the more you garner the rewards.
How wise is that?
5 km is a great distance to run, to race. For many runners, its not to short but its not too far either, the middle way espoused by the Buddha. Even if you have to walk part of it, in the early days of training, it doesn’t take too long to complete. And yet, there is a great feeling of accomplishment on completion.
What could be better than a 5 km run?
A 5 km run in the park – of course.
My heartfelt and everlasting thanks to the genius, or genii, who originated the concept of the parkrun. My thanks also to all those who nurtured the idea and spread it around the globe. Every Saturday morning, thousands of parkruns, with hundreds of runners participating in each of them, takes place in different parks; all powered by that awesome species know colloquially as ‘volunteers’. May their paths be straight, their rewards great and may their muscles never ache.
My local parkrun is held in Marlay Park, a beautiful park in south Dublin, with rolling acres, woodland, a beautiful old house, coffee shops and markets at the weekend and friendly, familiar faces and a bit if Irish banter.
What more could you ask for. Of course, mountains in the background and the start of the Wicklow Way – my walking adventure from last summer. I grew up in south Sligo, in the west of Ireland and mountains in the background are an essential part of my life.
The beauty of the parkruns is that they have the same route each week, so you can measure your progress, or regression if that is the unfortunate truth. The only variables are yourself and the weather. Both considerable if you are a middle-aged man prone to various injuries and illnesses and if the weather is Irish. Still, comparisons can be made, week in, week out.
And they help you to warm up. Yes, volunteers bring you through a short jog and several warming exercises before the race to ensure that you do minimum damage to yourself and to maximize your chances of the elusive PB (Personal Best) also referred to as a PR (Personal Record). Unless, that is, you are one of the couple of hundred runners who watch the warm-up! I know, I haven’t figured that one out yet. Maybe I should ask some of the watchers, do a survey, discover the hidden benefits of Watching Warm-Ups. For some, of course, they jog or cycle to the park and have a little rest while the motorists warm up – that makes sense of course.
Anyway, to each their own.
Stretching afterwards is also generally shunned, is this an Irish thing? I have to admit that i never stretched afterwards until last year my knees got so sore i had to stop running. Stretches were the answer, the wisdom imparted by my physio. Kind of a macho thing, I guess, not stretching after running. Not sure what the ladies excuse is.
Besides the run, there is the fun, the BUZZ. That’s one thing that you miss when you give up sports as the years clock up on your milometer. The pre-event, pre-match Buzz. Even if you are running on your own, there is such a happy and excited buzz. If i could only bottle it, imagine the fortunes to be made, Bottled Buzz.
We line up, hopping about a little bit, eyeing up the competition and then we are off.
I ran with a French friend last year. He was so impressed with how friendly and kind all the runners in Ireland are to each other. He has run at home in France and in other countries and told me that you would be likely to encounter jostling and a bit of elbowing – before the start whistle blows at all.
Take a bow friendly Irish runners.
The pleasure and pain of the run – the challenge to keep going – the extra strain on your body when you hit a hill, even a small hill – the pleasure of the markers, 1km, 2km, 3km, and my overall favourite, the 4km. If you really want to experience this wonder, then you must run it yourself – no one else can do it for you.
And finally, that mythical sign, FINISH. How rarely in ordinary life do we ever really get to the end of something, get to FINISH something. You do in a race, and in a 5 km parkrun, it is like entering heaven.
Today, about 50 metres from the end, i suddenly heard deep panting coming up behind me. Someone was about to overtake me, so close to the end. This could not happen, could not, somewhere a last remaining drop of strength and determination was located and i sped up. I would not be passed so late in the run, so close to the Finish.
Actually, I overdid it and passed out a runner in front of me. My apologies if that upset you, I hadn’t meant to sprint the last few metres. I know the frustration of being overtaken at the end, when all is almost over, the run nearly done and the natural sequence of things, of runners, established. Then the queue for the time registration, many thanks again to all the volunteers who quickly get us through the final hurdle.
Then, refuel, rehydrate, and yes, of course, for me and the other two people i saw doing it, the stretches. It is possible that all the fast runners have completed their stretching before i even reach the end of the race – someday i hope to see if that is true for myself.
One of my targets for this year was to complete a sub 25 minute 5 km run. Injuries and illnesses have hindered my progress but I haven’t given up yet, whisper it in case my tired muscles conspire against me.
Keep on running.