Tuesday, 30 October 2018

A tale of two pictures

Two weekends ago, I ran a great parkrun. The weather was fine, I felt strong, and I clocked a sub-26 5K for the first time in weeks. I felt really good during the run and then, afterward, felt even better when a runner whom I really admire (she's a machine!) commented on my parkrun pic that I had great form and made it look easy. Cue warm fuzzies all around!

Photo credit: Jeff Stark.

But then last Saturday, a mere seven days later, this happened... Bad form, bad posture, and a look of exhaustion that's enough to make even the onlookers tired. In all honesty, I did have a really bad run, with zero energy and lead in my legs for the entire 5 kays. I was nonetheless rather surprised when a sweet fellow parkrunner asked if I was okay post-run. But one look at my running pic for the day and the reason for their concern became glaringly obvious, ha!

Photo credit: Jeff Stark.

So why am I sharing this unflattering picture (and I have a whole collection of them!) with you? Because, in the past, I would have allowed it to steal all my joy. I would have looked at it and, in an instant, let it rob me of all the pleasure that I derived from a specific run. Why? Because somehow, subconsciously, I felt that my worth was based, at least in part, on how I looked. If I looked good on a running (or any!) picture, I'd feel happy and confident, but if I looked terrible, I'd feel discouraged and disappointed. 

But you know what? These past few weeks I've really been reminded again that our worth is determined by one thing, and one thing alone: The price that was paid for us on the Cross. We're loved. We're chosen. And we're rejoiced over with singing. And that's something that will never, ever change. Yes, we mess up and yes, we sometimes look a mess. But our worth and value, in Christ, will never, ever change.

So for me, this unflattering blooper was actually a mini celebration. Because for the first time in a long, long while (maybe ever...?), my first reaction when I saw it, was a sincere giggle, and not a feeling of disappointment or shame. After being reminded of my true worth - as it is written in the Word - for the past few weeks, I could see the picture for what it truly was. It was simply an unflattering picture of a very tired, but still worthy, child of God.    

Don't make the same mistake that I did for all of those years!


Monday, 3 September 2018

Chapter Stop-And-Smell-The-Roses

A little more than two years ago, when we were bang in the middle of toddlerhood squared, I wrote a tongue-in-cheek post about the chaotic state of our existence (you can read it here). And while we definitely still have our moments, I'm happy to report that we've all survived Chapter Chaos and that things are now officially less chaotic. Well mostly, anyway.

Chaos? What chaos?

And while life chapters and training chapters are not quite the same, I'm slowly but surely starting to ease into a new training chapter too. On Saturday, I ran my first sub-25 parkrun in five long months. And not only has it been a while since I've clocked a sub-25, but I've also clocked only two of them this entire year. A far cry from the 12 sub-25s I clocked in 2015!

Second sub-25 for 2018. [Pic by Jeff Stark.]

But you know what really got me thinking? The fact that Saturday's effort hurt. And the fact that I wasn't sure that I want to hurt on the run anymore. Yes, seeing that sub-25 on my watch after the run was thrilling, but I couldn't help but feel that an easy bird-watching jog along the river bank or a good old plog down to the beach would have been equally rewarding. Who am I, right?!

So while I'm definitely not done chasing PBs, I'm certainly enjoying this new state of mind. It's taken me 40 long years to realize that every run can be a good one. Not just the ones with a shiny new PB or a gong of a medal waiting at the end. 

Post-run shenanigans with Bear.

Here's to remembering to stop and smell the roses!

Monday, 20 August 2018


On Saturday I completed my 150th parkrun. That's 750 km of parkruns and counting, whoop! And while I definitely celebrated with a happy jiggle (or two!), I have to add that 150 is not even an official parkrun milestone... 

150 parkruns done! [Pic by Jeff Stark.]

My next official milestone is Club 250, which, if you do the math, will only be within my reach in two years' time... And that's if I consistently do at least 50 parkruns per year! And to think: Green (the colour of the Club 250 shirt) isn't even my colour, whaaaa! [It's the blue Club 500 shirt that I'm really after, but by the time that I'm eligible for that, I'll be nearly 50... I can just hear my brother telling me to go to the shop and just buy myself a blue shirt right now, ha!]

And while celebrating milestones sure is fun, I had to stop and remind myself that the true joy of parkrun lies in the journey, not the celebrations. It lies in the satisfaction of starting each weekend off on a healthy note. In the joy of catching up with parkrun friends. In the excitement of exploring new places as a parkrun tourist. And in the fulfillment of volunteering and helping to make it all happen. 

So for the next two years, while I'm working towards that elusive, green Club 250 shirt, I'm making it my mission to have more fun with it. To enjoy every, single parkrun event that I do. To embrace the rainy ones, delight in the new ones, push through the tough ones and learn from the discouraging ones. 

I can't wait to see what the next 150 will bring!  

Friday, 20 July 2018

Plogging along

It comes as no surprise that running is good for those who run. And, as I'm growing older, it's giving me endless pleasure to discover new ways in which running benefits us as runners. Improved mental health? Check. Improved memory? Check, check. A good way to manage the symptoms of PMS and menopause? Check again. What's not to love, right?

A running mom is a happy mom! [Pic by Jeff Stark.]

And while the physical, mental and emotional perks of running are nothing short of amazing, I'm on a mission to prove something else too. That running can also benefit those who don't run. And the environment. And communities/towns/cities as a whole. Crazy? Don't be too sure. Just think along the following lines:

  • Raising money for charitable causes through running.
  • Arranging and completing virtual running events for a good cause.
  • Using apps like Charity Miles on the run.
  • Collaborating with the local SPCA to take stray dogs for a run.
  • Competing in races where a portion of the proceeds goes to charity.

And the list goes on.

Imagine my delight, then, when I stumbled across the concept of plogging. A mash-up of the words "jogging" and the Swedish term for picking up litter, namely "plocka upp", plogging is exactly that. Picking up litter while running. Why on earth didn't I think of that?! Yes, there are numerous arguments against picking up someone else's junk. But I feel that doing nothing is just as bad. "It's only one piece of litter, said 8 billion people", right? 

So, armed with a bag and Will's gardening gloves, I recently set off on my first plogging expedition. We live in a relatively clean neighbourhood, so I didn't really expect to find much litter, but I was (un-)pleasantly surprised. I returned home with a whole stash of trash, chuffed to have left my neighbourhood in a better state than what I'd found it. Plus I got an extra workout from all that mid-run bending and reaching!

And can I let you in on a little secret? While plogging definitely is a way in which running can benefit communities and the environment as a whole, it benefits the runner even more. I have no scientific evidence to back my claim, but I'm pretty sure that a runner's high feels twice as good when you run for something bigger than just yourself.   

Thursday, 21 June 2018

"Do YOU run?!"

A fellow running blogger and friend recently wrote an Instagram post about how someone told him that he didn't look like a runner, and how that made him feel. And while I've never had those exact words spoken to me, I've certainly also had my "you don't look like a runner"-moment.

I was about 18 or 19, passionate, as always, about healthy living, but also painfully aware of the fact that I was completely different than everybody else. Long story, but just know that I was just as uber-nerdy then as I still am today. Which, at the age of 18, felt a lot more awkward than it does at 41. (Thank goodness.) 

I don't have a picture of me running when I was 18, but here's one taken at my first ever 5K fun run at age 8 (I'm in the dark blue tracksuit in the middle, front). I came second that day, winning a Barbie doll as a prize, and that's where it all began. Running has always made me happy!

So there I was, self-consciously different at 18, grocery shopping with my mom. Then, just as we reached the pay point to pay for our groceries, I spotted the latest copy of Runner's World magazine and, of course, had to grab one to devour at home. But as I placed it in front of the cashier to reach for my purse, this shy girl's worst nightmare started to unfold.

With her face crumpled into a half-shocked, half-horrified frown, as if she'd just smelled a rotten egg, the cashier gave me a once-over before exclaiming: "Do YOU run?!". And, instead of putting her in her place right there, as I should have, I shyly smiled and shrugged, my face red with embarrassment.

Looking back, my 41-year-old self would have handled the situation completely differently. I would have replied with a cheery: "Of course! Don't you?! You really should try it - it will change your life!", and never given it another thought. But the 18-year-old me did exactly the opposite. I became even more self-conscious, allowing her words to steal a big chunk of the joy that I derived from running at that stage. Plus it made me super hesitant to join a local running club - something that I eventually only did a whole ten years later.

My dearest Kimberley Harriers running club friends. If only I'd discovered them sooner...!

So what has changed? Yes, I've discovered (and love!) the liberty that comes with growing older. But I've also learnt that I want what running has to offer more than I'll ever care about what any stranger thinks. So what if I run like a girl/huff like a steam engine/awkwardly swing my arms sideways like a duck? I still reap the same physical, mental and emotional benefits from running as everybody else. 

So if you, too, have had a "you don't look like a runner"-moment and it's getting you down, do what I should have done 20 years ago: Shrug it off and don't waste another minute of your life pondering about it. Lace up, head out and do what you love doing with your head held high! I'll be sure to give you a high five as I awkwardly huff and swing my arms sideways when we run past each other. 

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