003: park run rituals

by JR

I try not to miss a Park Run now. If I don’t start my Saturday morning with a 5km run and coffee after, ideally with Sarah and a couple of mates. I feel like something is missing. 

I joke that going to Park Run is like going to Church. It’s a ritual. The run is like singing a hymn, or prayer. I’m just still not sure who or what the God is? Nature, maybe. 

I was at this one alone. Which meant it was a good opportunity for me to put my foot down a bit. 

I’ve been nervous to do that. I got into running with a very meditative approach, almost Buddhist. Enjoy the journey, don’t worry about the destination. 

Enjoy the run, don’t worry about the time or finish line. 

That’s what I needed to hear when I was just starting out, but now my body feels a bit stronger and i’m less insecure. I’m a bit worried about ruining the experience for myself by trying. Yet also, I’m now beginning to be curious about what it’s like to try in a controlled way. 

How can I reach for a goal and not let the fear of failure discourage me? How can I work towards “performance” and still enjoy the run. These questions feel like bigger metaphors for my life, which is why I’m at the starting line on my own and I’m standing a lot closer to the front than I normally would. 

1 mile 7/10

1 mile 7/10

1 mile 9/10

That’s my plan, go out of the blocks faster than I normally would, hold it and then press “full send” on the final stretch. 

It feels good to open my legs up a bit, and the only thing that pre-occupies me is that this might be over quicker than usual. I love Trentham Gardens, I love this Lake, the trees, the way the light reflects off the water. 

I notice waves of comparison as a young lad wearing an oversized hoody (how the hell is he running in that) and a cap on backwards burns past me and a bunch of others. 

I’m thinking a bit about who I might overtake or who I might run behind for a bit. 

Mostly though, I can keep bringing myself back to my breath, the trees and the feeling of my feet hitting the floor. 

These are all my gateways, back to me, back to the run. I don’t want to be anywhere else. 

I feel fine. I can see my heart rate is at around 150 which is comfortable and I’m starting to believe that maybe my 7/10 is more like a 6, maybe there is more in me than I thought. 

The little climbs slow me down and get my heart thumping, but I kind of love it, especially the chance to breeze down hill and let gravity take me. 

I try and go as fast as I can for the last bit, yet I’m actually still quite controlled. Am I really letting go? 

I notice I’m still running with some fear. Fear of getting really tired, fear of having to stop, fear of burning out. I’m protecting myself. It feels like the right way to do it, but again if running is my current metaphor for life - then there’s something to notice. 

I arrive back in the walled gardens and don’t feel too sad that I didn’t take in the views as much as I normally do, I’m enjoying feeling my body pumped and when I pause my watch it’s the quickest park run I’ve done since I was about 23. 

I feel good and know there’s more in me. 

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