Madison pacing me in a local parkrun

For the past few years, I’ve been conscious of my poor level of fitness.  As a father of three very active kids, it was getting harder and harder to keep up with them.

A daily regime of religiously walking 10,000 steps over the past 3-4 years has helped slightly, but I still had a long way to go.

Through a series of circumstances, a few months ago I found myself standing at the start line of a local 5km parkrun. Parkruns are a fantastic initiative that enables people to run, walk (or in my case hobble) for 5km early on a Saturday morning. You register for a barcode and are able to track your times, giving an incentive to continually improve.  Best of all it’s free!

We had driven past the local Berwick Springs run on a Saturday morning for years whilst taking the kids to athletics during the summer months.

Madison then wanted to try as one of her best friends was going to run with her mum.  I took her down, cheered her on and waited at the finish line.

The following week, Madison wanted to run again, but her friend wasn’t going, so partly out of not wanting to let her down and partly being intrigued by the concept, Madison, Hayden and I went together.

I dreaded the first time. I was self-conscious and intimidated by the distance.

But with my darling 11 year old daughter running alongside me for encouragement, I survived the first effort.

To my wife’s surprise, I went back the following week.  And then, a couple of weeks later when the Melbourne winter kicked in, the kids stayed home in the warmth and I went by myself.

The first run, I jogged about 2 kilometres before walking, the second time about 2.5.  I was gradually improving and on target to complete the full distance on my 6th attempt when my right calf cramped up and I had to limp to the line.

The next week, after lots of stretching and foam rolling, I made it to the finish line without stopping.  A few weeks later, I scraped under 30 minutes for the first time.  We’ve started to do a few “tourist runs” at other venues and have even managed to get our other son, Logan, out once to give it a go.

Am I fit yet? Definitely not.

Am I booking in for my first marathon in the coming months?  Ummmmm, no.

But I’m making progress.

And I’m persisting.

And I’m noticing the difference.

We’ve all got to start somewhere.

Have you tried parkrunning yet?