Today I did not get a personal best at a local parkrun but I’m delighted all the same.
Why? Because I proved to myself I’m on the path to progression.
A few years ago, and as I lay prone on a treatment bench, a physiotherapist – in a sublime display of How to Lose Friends and Alienate People – said to me: “Your problem is you’ve got slight knock knees and one leg is a bit longer than the other. You’re not built to be a runner.”
Ouch and wow. I half wondered if I could get away with knock-kneeing him with my ginormous leg. Instead, overpowered by my own insecurities, I felt ashamed of my figure.
Aside from the fact this body shaming a-hole needed to learn the subtle art of tact, the phase ‘you’re not built to be a runner’ needs to die. For good.
Barring a serious physical/mental health condition running is, as parkrun proves, for everyone regardless of shape or ability. And while physicality may offer advantages in some disciplines your anatomical make-up shouldn’t preclude you from taking part in any exercise.
The most important thing you can learn is that your amazing, ever-changing, beautifully imperfect, one-of-a-kind body is built to do anything. Running, rowing, climbing, swimming, pole vault, WHATEVER.
Recently I committed to a structured training plan. Over the past three months I’ve experienced advances in my running fitness that make my soul fizz with joy and feed my hunger for testing myself further.
My aim today was to run 5k hard. Typically, I romanticised the occasion. This, my 50th parkrun, would be where I set a new personal best. I’d cross the finish line arms aloft, flushed pink with success and beaming from ear to ear.
I gave it a really good go and ended a mere 15 seconds outside my best time. At the finish, I skidded to an abrupt halt. I was salty with sweat, beetroot-red in the face and grimacing from the lactic build up.
But so what, right? This size 12, 10.5 stone body with wonky pins ran faster than it has done for months. I felt great and nearly got a new PB. Anything is possible!
I’d like to tell you that you can be a runner no matter what your build or what others think a runner should look like.
So get outside. Give it a go. Take your time. Keep going. Enjoy your body. Knock knees and all.