30 lessons from a year of park runs

Good fitness gear is important, but there's really no need for those map updates on social media, writes Shanthini Naidoo

08 April 2018 - 00:00

1 A year's worth of runs. Yay me!
2 Well ... TBH I've missed approximately one a month. Three or four from flu, two thanks to early children's parties ... maybe five due to general malaise.
3 I have purchased a fair amount of Lycra this year, and one lumo jacket even though we run at 8am ... have to keep visibility up among this herd, especially if you tend to slip on muddy uphills.
4 Good running shoes and gear are important, for keeping warm or cool enough, and not slipping on muddy uphills.
5 Fitness gear that is actually being made use of, double score!
6 My running time has not improved despite consistent carbo-loading. What am I doing wrong?
7 There is no need for those map updates on social media just yet.
8 Nobody needs to know that it takes an hour to do 5km, especially in this rugged terrain, man.
9 This is about endurance, not PBs. And an hour spent in nature is a #blessing. #keepjustifying
10 It is okay to be a bit heavier than I was last year. It must be those uphill walks, muscle building, you know. Definitely not the post-run treat. You earn those croissant calories.11 One can still feel quite alone on this group event. Wonderful!
12 Still cannot walk and talk, as friends and family who have come along for the run have learned.
13 Never, ever take your small child with you. You will end up carrying them uphill, in this mountainous local park.
14 Those people with the jogging prams and kiddie backpacks are such overachievers. How did they even get the kids ready by 7.45am?
15 Early Saturday mornings have developed into a lovely habit, something to look forward to come the weekend.
16 It has also prevented late Friday nights involving heavy lifting of that extra large wine glass.
17 After a year, you are a regular. You know people, perhaps not by name but by recognition. Octogenarian in Bandana, who is always ahead of me, Girlfriends in Trendy Tanks, looking fantastic with their exposed, lean back muscles no matter how cold it is, and not forgetting Three Chubby Moms who share recipes while they are running. Good on them for getting the endorphins in.18 I don't want to know how people recognise me. Maybe Woman Wearing Eyeliner. (Morning faces are not pretty without some help.)
19 You get to know the dogs. The heavy-breathing pugs who arrive when I do and who are usually cooling down and glugging from their doggie water bottle/bowls (ever seen this amazing contraption?) by the time I get to the end. One day, pugs, one day.
20 Thankfully, more people are cleaning up after their dogs. Poop in the morning is still nauseating, people.21 The volunteers are awesome. I've recently learned they arrive and finish their runs before the hordes arrive. Must buy them a coffee one day, or some running gear.
22 After 30-odd attempts, I still walk. Run for 5km, I cannot.
23 The new year crowd dissipated by mid-February.
24 The park run is not rain-friendly for some of us weaker beings who melt at the sight of precipitation.
25 My fancy fitness watch is a piece of crap. It could not survive a minor fall onto a hard surface. Yes, it is still working, despite a large crack. It is starting to bleed internally, so let's pray for it.
26 Next time I will get that cheap, hardy, rubberised version despite its design being of the sci-fi fashion disaster genre.
27 Delta Park is really stunning at any time of year. Fields of cosmos literally bring down the blood pressure levels with their shades of purple prettiness.
28 Flowery fields are an excuse to stop and breathe on the Evil Hill.
29 As winter approaches, the parking will be better and the walk after will be easier.
30 Always ignore the follow-up data about how far behind those in your age category you were, preferably over a coffee and buttery pastry.

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