Lots of people are missing their free, weekly, timed 5k fix. I’m definitely one of them.

After a fairly uneventful few weeks at the start of all of this, lockdown has been kicking my bum a bit lately. I’m walking about a lot less, sitting a lot more, and eating anything I want to (I mean, not like a constant scoffing situation but plenty of home baked goodies, chocolate and cheese). Sluggishness has been building up and for the last few weeks running has been tough, as my body has just decided ‘nope, don’t think so’ when I try to move my legs faster than easy pace.

The exception to this was the Eagles club event Not Green Belt Relay last weekend; as we couldn’t get our annual fix of bombing around the green belt in increasingly sweat-filled car pools for two days, with a stay at the glamorous Brentwood Travelodge thrown in for good measure, we did our own version! Three teams of 20 were allocated a stage each day of 20, 30 or 40 minutes with a specific start time, and we raced against each other in totally separate locations, with a near constant stream of banter on Whatsapp and Facebook all weekend. Maps were made, silliness ensued, team camaraderie grew – it was fantastic.

I actually managed to run well both days, which surprised me since all my sessions in the week before were unpleasant slogs. The same has been true this week. I’ve narrowed down why this is to a few reasons:

  • It’s really hot
  • Pollen
  • I discovered this week that I’m a bit anaemic. Aside from the iron issue, apparently less iron = more lactic, and that’s not good for someone with compartment syndrome
  • It’s still really hot
  • I’m missing my running friends, and general mass gatherings of sweaty people in lycra
  • I’m losing a bit of general fitness from not walking much – I usually walk at least half an hour a day, and often walk several miles to and from parkrun on Saturdays

Ah, parkrun. I miss parkrun.

I miss seeing my friends. I miss meeting Allie for the couple of mile warm up walk and putting the world to rights, and I miss post parkrun green eggs (although Zoom Brunch has helped there). I miss being handed random cake. I even miss being told ‘you can do it, don’t give up, sprint finish’ by people who don’t know that parkrun today is a mobile gossip sesh with no interest whatsoever in the time it takes.

parkrun is my go to ‘back to it’ run after a marathon, wearing my finisher’s top. It’s always my comeback run if I’ve been injured, and last summer it kept me sane when I was only allowed to speedwalk (not full on speedwalking, my bum only wiggled the usual amount). It’s always there and always welcoming. It’s a pal. And like all our other pals, we’re not allowed to see it. Even with social distancing measures.

Today, I really wasn’t fancying my run. It wasn’t scary on paper – 4 miles with 20 minutes in the middle as a little fartlek section. But having felt washed out and half asleep all week, with crampy legs because my new iron supplements haven’t quite kicked in yet, any form of speedwork felt like a challenge.

What would make this more fun, I decided, was if I could do it at parkrun. So instead of heading out by 8am as I have been doing since lockdown started, I waited til bang on 9am. I wore my Socially Distant parkrun top, and I even chucked my barcode wristband on to make it feel more authentic. Yes, it was a bit further than 5k, but turning today’s run into a fake parkrun was good for morale and I ended up with a respectable session.


Sadly there was noone handing me random cake at the end, but you can’t have everything.

We might not be able to see our pal parkrun for quite some time yet, and that’s making lots of us a bit sad. But just like zoom brunch catch ups, socially distant #fakeparkrun might be the next best thing.



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