Although I am sure that there are numerous advantages to running alone, I have always really enjoyed running with others. Once I feel more confident in my endurance levels, I will definitely be renewing my running club membership.
Last year I discovered that the Up & Running store in Birmingham was organising a series of Night Runs. Although my knee injury meant that I missed the first three runs, on Wednesday evening I found myself donning a head torch and preparing to head out for a run in
the Arctic Birmingham.
[Photo: Up & Running Birmingham]
The guided social run enabled me to run through the centre of Birmingham and along a small section of the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal. Luckily it was dark as I have a slightly ironic phobia of canals. Rivers are fine, canals are evil. I discovered parts of Birmingham I did not realise existed and managed to run 5km without stopping. Most importantly, however, the run enabled me to meet new people and to learn more about the Run Birmingham project.
On Saturday morning I managed to convince my friend to drive me to Walsall Arboretum parkrun. After six weeks of consistent training I was confident that I could achieve one of my 2016 running goals; a sub-30 minute 5km.
Conditions at the Arboretum were perfect. After loitering around near the start line trying to keep warm, I soon found myself surrounded by 348 other runners. The popularity of parkrun in the West Midlands definitely continues to grow! Although I started slightly too far back and found myself caught up in a bottleneck, I quickly managed to get into my stride.
I was clearly on a mission on the first lap…
[Photo: Ron Reynolds]
…and I was enjoying my Saturday morning run on the third and final lap!
When I crossed the finish line I knew that I had beaten my sub-30 minute target time. All of my kilometre spilt times had been well under 6 minutes. My parkrun results email later confirmed that I had finished in 164th place with an official time of 27:33. I had actually equalled my parkrun personal best time from June 2013. An improvement which has now given me the confidence to push on towards that elusive sub 25-minute time.
As we drove back from parkrun my friend asked why my running had improved since my injury break. I said that it was simple; weight loss.
Although consistent and structured training has clearly had a positive impact on my running, I suspect that my temporary Christmas job helped more. After spending months sat on my arse studying, I suddenly found myself on the move for up to eight hours a day. The stairs were particularly challenging wearing a pair of heavy safety boots. At the start of November I was squeezing myself into Size 14 trousers, less than two months later I needed a belt for my Size 12 trousers.
I have lost weight and as a result my running has improved.
Now I just need to maintain the weight loss!