I used to run a lot. I was never very good at it, or even really enjoy it, but I liked taking part in events and have a whole stash of medals ranging from 5k's to Marathon's hanging dustily in my office.
Somewhere along the line though, I lost my way. Not in a little way either, in a really big way. And I'm supposed to be doing a 10k event this weekend! I'll do it of course, if for no other reason than the medal but I have not trained or even run at all for the best part of a year.
But it will be ok and do you know why it will be ok? Because of this...
Apart from the runners this weekend, there will be hundreds and thousands of supporters, spectators, volunteers, organisers, all cheering and willing the runners on. Not a single one of them know who I am or even care for that matter. But they will cheer me on regardless as they will cheer everyone on, whatever shape, size, speed, daftness of outfit or hair colour they have on the day.
The atmosphere will be positive, joyful and contagious, whatever the weather.
How do I know this? Because I have been involved with a lot of running events over the years, either as a participant, a spectator or a volunteer. I have probably taken part in approximately 50+ official events, run 52 parkruns, volunteered at 50+ parkruns of which I am on the core team and also marshaled at a few local events.
When I'm feeling blue, which was the whole of 2017 really, and I'm under that dark cloud, I will tend to retreat and wrap myself up in my safe bubble at home. Last weekend I ventured out once again to volunteer at Kesgrave parkrun, which I hadn't done for a number of weeks, exactly for that reason. Did I regret it? Absolutely not!
I didn't run but I helped give out the finish tokens to the runners. The sun was shining. I chatted with a few familiar faces. I met some new people. I drunk my hot chocolate and I was thanked by the runners coming through the finishing funnel. I went home feeling positive, if a little cold, and appreciative that the parkrun community accepted me back despite my neglect and negative feelings. And then I got on with my weekend.
My point is this...
I'm not ready to run again, not yet anyway, but maybe I will again one day. But I do want to be involved with running and the running community, which is huge in Kesgrave incidentally. Whether I am running, spectating or volunteering, it is nothing but a positive experience EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
You don't need to be good at running, you don't even need to run at all if you don't want too, but I do urge you to get involved. Take a walk to your local parkrun one Saturday morning, better still go and volunteer. Go and spectate at one of the local events taking part in your town, even if it is from the comfort of a pub garden. Put your name down to marshal at a local event, organisers are always looking for willing volunteers.
I hear many people say to me that they're just not into running. Fair enough, running is not for everyone, I can vouch for that! But by avoiding running events you are missing out on a wonderful, supportive and inspiring community.
Try it. I promise you won't regret it, the positivity is good for your soul. Who knows, you may even be inspired to have a go yourself!