I am lucky to have a beautiful park near my house. It is always a pleasure to visit, to look at the trees, flowers, birds, ponds, all that nature has to offer.
On a good day I go for a run round it. On a less good day, I'm doing well to get to the gates and sit on the nearest bench for a while. But whatever type of day it is, on my return home I always feel better than when I left. Sometimes it is that very thought that actually gets me out of the house.
These park trips are usually solitary, but sometimes we crave company. A couple of years ago I heard of parkrun. Maybe some of you are already regulars with your t-shirt to prove your dedication. For those that have not heard of it, parkrun is a free 5 kilometre run that starts at 9am every Saturday morning. It happens at three hundred and fifty venues throughout the UK (and there are plenty more in the rest of the world).
"I don't run" I hear you say.
"That doesn't matter" I respond.
You can turn up and watch. Depending on where you are on your journey, getting out of the house may be a great achievement. What a wonderful start to the day. You may feel inclined to smile or clap at the runners as they pass you. They will appreciate your encouragement, and that can help you feel better inside.
And having watched the event, maybe once, twice or twenty times, you might think that the people seem a friendly bunch, who you'd like to know. But how do you start the conversation? Find the most approachable looking person and ask how you can volunteer as a marshal, a timekeeper, or perhaps help serve tea after the run. You will soon be directed to a person, probably armed with a clipboard, who will be delighted to meet you.
You may feel inspired to walk the route, with a dog on a leash, or push a child in a buggy – probably not both as you'd run out of hands. The key point of parkrun is its inclusivity, it matters not one jot whether you're the first or last over the finish line, but that you participated. Perhaps after a few visits you may choose to try a tentative jog for a few metres, but nobody will force you.
If you'd like to find your nearest parkrun go to parkrun.org.uk
And you don't need me to tell you that a little exercise in the fresh air is great for lifting the mood.
A Moodscope member.