Durham Park Run - 5km - Joys Of Running In Such An Energetic and Inspirational Atmosphere

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Saturday 9 April 2016

Durham Park Run - 5km - Joys Of Running In Such An Energetic and Inspirational Atmosphere

After a restless night sleep, the alarm woke me and I was confronted with a grey and very wet morning when I opened the curtain.  Getting back into bed looked a really inviting option.  I'd said to a friend I was planning on going to the Durham 5km Park Run but they wouldn't miss me and so I'd not be letting anyone down ..... No.... I decided whatever the weather I would get up and start getting ready.  And I'm glad I did not only did the weather clear, not only was it great to move my body and get some fresh air but it was such a fantastic and inspiring atmosphere.  It's a free event, organised by volunteers on a weekly basis all over the country (if you don't know about it, really do check it out).  Actually I was told this morning, it's now caught on and spread and events are run all over the world.  It was truly wonderful to be part of it this morning and it was also really great to share the joy of the event and catch up with several people who I'd not seen since leaving Durham in 2014, reminding me again how just how great it was to be back.

As I've mentioned quite a few times before, Dan's always enjoyed running but it's not really been my cup of tea..... that's until recently.  When we got back to Durham Dan had said he wanted to take the opportunity to go down and get involved in the Durham Park Run.  We'd mentioned it to some friends who also enjoy going and made arrangements to go this morning.   Since leaving Spain and coming back to Brtiain my exercise regularity has decreased somewhat as I have sadly let admin, paperwork, calls and meetings etc get in the way of my routine a little.  So seeing as the aim of the Park Run is to encourage people to be more active, it seemed like the perfect motivation I needed, by committing me to get up early and get my trainers on, knowing that hundreds of other people were planning the same.  I decided to get my barcode so that I had the option to participate.  So last night, feeling like I needed some fresh air I took a very slow jog over to Framwellgate moor to say hello to our friend Barry.  Stopping off for some water and quick chat, I got the unexpectedly opportunity to print off my parkrun barcode.  Maybe it was a sign....

However, after a restless night sleep - the eczema on my arms has been flaring up these past few days and can be very uncomfortable in the night when I scratch it raw by accident in my sleep - and with it raining quite hard, I was having second thoughts.  But as I frequently do, I said to myself - try getting up, 15mins and if I'm still not feeling it then reassess.  By the time I'd sat for my morning meditation, the rain had cleared and it was brightening up. Another sign to go.....? So I put on my kit and set off to jog down to Maiden Castle - the University Sport Centre - where the Park Run starts.

I decided to jog down as opposed to taking the offer of a lift from a neighbour because I've noticed running with Dan the last few months, in comparison to him it takes me a very long time to warm up and even feel like running at all.   This morning was no exception.  It was a little tough getting started particularly as it was a cold morning.  Surprisingly there were quite a few people already out and it was nice to smile and say 'good morning' as I past them, instantly lifting my mood.  By the time I neared Maiden Castle there were lots more runners jogging down for the event.  I was really amazed when I got there just how many people had turned up.  Men, women, boys, girls, all ages, all abilities get warmed up, stretched and ready to go as well as it being a wonderfully social atmosphere with everyone saying hello to each other and catching up after the long week.

I bumped into an old friend and she explained the route to me and I followed her to the starting line.  There was a small introduction by the organisers and notices given.  It was truly inspiring to hear some of the stories as people were cheered and celebrated..... someone was completing their 100th run today and yet 3 years ago had been in a wheelchair...... someone had been a volunteer for some time, setting up the course and putting out the markers 250 times!  There were many announcements and huddled up at the start amongst so many others who'd just come out simply to be active was just fantastic. Easily there were more than 250 people getting ready to take part.  And then just like that we set off.....

After a short while of bumping elbows, the pack started to spread out and I settled into a comfortable pace.  I had just wanted to use the run to get myself out and moving this morning, but it was hard not to get excited in such a large crowd.  After the first 1km, first running round the track at Maiden Castle and then along the river bank and onto the fields, I realised I actually didn't have any sort of awareness of how long 5km actually was.  When Dan and I have been running we just go out for as long as we feel good and never really look up how far we went.  Luckily, I soon found my pace being matched by another girl and although I didn't know her, there felt a mutual and unspoken agreement to help each other to keep up our pace as we ticked off the remaining kilometres.  I actually went and introduced myself to her after the race and thanked her for making it so fun and she too say she'd equally enjoyed the challenge of having someone next to her and wouldn't otherwise have been able to keep up the pace.

It was a lot of fun and when the course doubled back on itself I couldn't help but have a big smile on my face seeing all the runner in front of me as well as those coming the other way.  And not only that but the sun came out too!

As I cross the finish and was handed my chip and my barcode was scanned to give me a time and position. I was extremely grateful to all the volunteers who were organising the event.  It's totally free and happens every week.  Yes, you can go running any time and you don't need to be timed and you don't need to have a course laid out for you, but it does in some way make a difference.  Some people, like my friend, enjoy the event because they use it to push themselves a little extra and like setting good times.  For me the energy of everyone taking part was really inspiring and I had been motivated this morning to get out and be active purely because of I knew that so many other people would be making the effort - so what was really stopping me.

I really had a great morning and the atmosphere afterwards was equally as energetic and social.  Everyone exhilarated from the run, saying hello, catching up, swapping stories and warming down together.  It really was fantastic seeing how happy everyone crossing the finish was, having completed the run, been active and outside, whatever their time or placing.

And whilst it wasn't the timing aspect of the event that had motivated me to go, it was still strangely quite nice to get a time and have something to use as a benchmark to help me commit to picking up my exercise regularity.  24mins 46sec not a bad starting point.

Sorry no photos as I was on my own but check out the official photos from the Durham Park Run.....


  1. How courageous! Years ago I picked up jogging as well... And then sadly stopped due to an injury... Then took it up again ... And found excuses: too cold, too wet, too grey ( I am a sun person!). Last week I started again but ... Well, I am reading this in bed this morning, I will get up and go for a run!

  2. I reacted to this post this morning, but sth seems to have gone wrong... The post is not here. Never mind, I am not going to write my story a second time, it never serms to be the same the second time you put your thoughts on "paper". But I do want to tell you you got me out of bed and jogging!!! I want to try to keep doing this twice or three times a week.

    1. Hi. It was really lovely to receive these comments. Thank you so so much for sharing this with me. Writing (as well as the running!) doesn't come as naturally to me as Dan so it was a little difficult for me to share my feelings of the experience. However it had been so inspiring and enjoyable that I felt almost compelled too. So it was wonderful to hear that it inspired you to go jogging as well! After injuries and illnesses I too found many reasons to delay starting again but I know that whilst the first couple of weeks getting into a routine can sometimes feel like I have to force myself, I know I always do feel so so much better in the longer term. Weather is cold and drizzly here today so your comments too have now in turn motivated me this afternoon to put on my trainers once more! Happy jogging!! :-)


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