How to stay calm and keep parkrunning

Basingstoke parkrun event #611, 26th October 2019; Run Report by Penny Metcalf

On this damp and blustery Saturday morning only 376 people came to Basingstoke parkrun. A good two hundred decided to stay in the warm and dry and watch the rugby, hence guaranteeing a great position number for everyone who turned up. If you came today you quite possibly got your highest Basingstoke position number (for some time at least) which is likely to be rivalled only by next Saturday’s event - already an incentive for coming along.

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We had 9 brave new parkrunners (well done on such a poor weather morning) and 14 new to Basingstoke (visiting from such places as Poole, Alice Holt and Seaton). There were also 32 personal bests, and one 12th birthday - happy birthday to Bethan Mason who ran her 215th parkrun - no mean feat for someone who has just turned 12.

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Milestones: Well done to junior Samuel Kemp for doing his tenth parkrun, Oleg PH and Sam Kerr completing their 50th parkruns, and John Mannion for getting all the way to his 250th parkrun. An unofficial milestone was also reached by Chris Furness who impressively was completing his 400th parkrun. Catherine Gerlach was volunteering for the 25th time so will soon be in possession of a purple volunteering shirt. And Basingstoke's Queen of Barcode Scanning Lisa Hedderley was scanning your barcodes for an amazing 200th time (not an official milestone but still worth celebrating).

Thank you very much to Tony Moore and the team of 41 volunteers who kindly stood in gale force winds and still managed to cheer everyone on at the same time.

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The excited and/or anxious buzz surrounding the start line made me think that it could be timely to take a minute to think about the pre-run nerves that can attack before anything from a parkrun to a marathon regardless of the runner’s experience or pace. If you are someone who tends to experience pre-run jitters it can be useful to acknowledge it with even something as simple as ‘Here come the butterflies’. Just labelling the feeling can help give you some distance from it. You could ask yourself, ‘I feel anxious about...what exactly?’.

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This might help you understand what exactly is causing the anxiety which can be the first step in managing it. There are things you can control and things you can’t. You might feel frustrated about an injury or illness that has hampered your training, but we can have little or no control over many of the random life events that get in the way. We can focus on getting there on time and on what we have achieved so far. Sometimes just slowing your breathing and counting your breath can help calm you down.

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Sometimes it can help to take yourself away from the buzzing crowds for a little warm up/calm down. Sometimes it can help to confide in someone how you feel or exchange some words with someone about something completely different, like the weather. You might find that they feel just the same. Or that saying something out loud helps to distract you. parkrun is the perfect place to practice managing running related anxiety and parkrunners are always ready to support and help their fellow runners.

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Next Saturday will be great because some people will choose to watch large men running around a big square of grass, but we will be doing it for ourselves (albeit without any egg shaped balls to chase). See you there.