The new normal of a Saturday morning

Who knew that Dermot O’Leary was so entertaining as the presenter of the Radio 2 breakfast show on a Saturday morning? (Don’t get me started on the mystery voice - Connie Booth?, I am not convinced even though I know it is the answer. And I have no idea about the current one. Any suggestions? Anyway, I digress.) Listening to Dermot whilst attempting to do the crossword has become my ‘new normal’ on a Saturday morning, usually followed by a short run. All at a more relaxed pace than my previous Saturday routine.

Which is a bit of a worry.

I love parkrun, it has given me so much in the last 7 years and I want it to keep doing that for many more years in the future. But I worry, what if lots of dedicated parkrunners have discovered a ‘new normal’ on a Saturday morning that doesn’t involve setting the alarm for earlier than a weekday and heading out to a puddle strewn, windswept park to battle the elements then ‘the moment’ of parkrun may have passed. Ex-parkrunners (a word I hope to never use again) may have found they prefer to spend their Saturday mornings in different, non-parkrun ways.

You don’t need to be a virologist to put two and two together to make four. The government advice is saying that we will be social distancing for some time into the future, potentially until we have a vaccine for this blasted virus that has interrupted so many good things. The latest update from parkrun (accessed here if you haven’t seen it) makes it clear that “we are not considering starting events where doing so would mean participants or volunteers are required to maintain a certain distance between each other”. Doing the basic maths would suggest it could be quite a while before we can gather again in the park at 9am on a Saturday.

That could give people plenty of opportunity to develop their new normal, which may not include parkrun. When we thought we would be missing a few weeks we were all very excited about ‘that first one back’, but as that extends into months the outlook may be very different.

And it is at this point that I remind myself that it is statistically proven that 98% of the things we worry about don’t happen. It is wasted time and energy, and the trouble is that many of us have an awful lot of time on our hands at the moment.

The concept of parkrun – free, timed, 5k, every Saturday at 9am, is brilliant. The principle of encouraging people to be more active than they otherwise would be to improve their health and happiness will be more relevant than ever. Which is why we will need to be more evangelistic about the fabulous thing that is parkrun, to make sure that we come back stronger and more successful than before.

Finally, whilst I hate to disagree with a lady, as I was listening to Dame Vera singing her memorable song as part of the VE Day commemoration, I couldn’t help but think that we may not know exactly when we will meet again, but we do know it will be on a Saturday at 9am, and it will be in Rushcliffe Country Park.

We will be back.