parkrun is far more than just a run

By GreaterSport | 12 March 2020 | TAGS: parkrun, #ThisGirlCan, Mental health

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Nichola is not a morning person, but for parkrun, she makes an exception. Before parkrun, running wasn’t something she enjoyed it was just something she did to help her stay healthy. But after her first laps of Heaton Park on a cold and rainy Saturday morning, she was hooked. She found the support from volunteers and other runners amazing, and it wasn’t long until she started hanging around afterwards having a brew and chatting with people.

parkrun came into Nichola’s life during a difficult time as she struggled with newly diagnosed anxiety and her Mum had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Nichola quickly began to realise that parkrun was becoming one of her main mechanisms to help her control her anxiety; regular running and chatting with others were the perfect combination she needed. As a result she started to run more joining her local running club, Prestwich AC, and started to really enjoy running!

But just as Nichola was riding high, she fractured her vertebrae in an un-related accident meaning she was unable to run for over three months. Nichola was worried about how this may affect her anxiety as running had become such a key method to help her manage it. Whilst early on in her recovery she did experience some dark days, the parkrun community was still there to support her; as soon as she was able to, she was back at Heaton Park as a volunteer.

“It was amazing to be back with people and everyone was so supportive and encouraging. Friends and acquaintances gave me lifts there and back because I couldn’t drive, I could talk to people about things other than my injury, and I could feel useful as a volunteer.”

It was during this time that she realised just how big a role the people at parkrun played in helping to manage her anxiety;

“I realised it wasn’t just the running that helped manage the anxiety, but the friendships, support, feeling useful and fresh air all helped. As I got stronger, I finally got back to running and my first parkrun back felt emotional but oh so so good.”

Over a year on from her first parkrun, her Mum is doing really well, her injury is well on the road to recovery and the parkrun community continues to be part of her life. “I will always be grateful for parkrun, and all my running friends, for coming into my life exactly when I needed it the most.”

parkrun is more than just a run, jog or walk. It can bring community, companionship and purpose into our lives when we need it the most. Find your local parkrun and see how you can get involved here.

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