It’s all about channelling your inner equine. I’ve talked about prancercise before, and indeed lived the dream by trying pony trekking up the valley, but word still hasn’t got out as much as I would like, so at parkrun on Saturday I was glad of the chance to act as an ambassador for this innovation in fitness fabulousness . Honestly, it’s felt like screaming into a void sometimes, but I think I may have turned a corner and gained a couple of willing and winning recruits, who, alongside myself and my hobbit friend of course, will be fabulous brand ambassadors I’m sure you’ll agree!
And, can I just say, should there be any cynics among you, don’t forget one of the Code of Conduct rules for parkrun is about ‘respect everybody’s right to participate in their own way’ so there is plenty of room for prancercise frolicking en route for any or all who wish to give it a go.
So for the uninitiated, the blah de blah is as follows:
Prancercise® is defined as: A springy, rhythmic way of moving forward,similar to a horse’s gait and ideally induced by elation. “This form of movement, along with dietary and spiritual principles can create the most satisfying, holistic and successful fitness program one could hope to experience. I encourage anyone who is ready for a huge change in their lives, from the way they see the world, to the way they see themselves to explore the principles inherent in this program, especially as outlined in my book : Prancercise®:The Art of Physical and Spiritual Excellence.”
Just to be extra clear, the book isn’t mine (if only) it is by the lovely Joanna Rohrback – Neigh-sayers take note: She’s the real deal. If you just have the self-discipline to adhere to her principles, you too could look like her, or, if you are of the male persuasion, her lovely nameless sidekick in the unfortunate leggings. (and if you think the still shot is bad, wait ’til you’ve seen the prancercise videos, it really is life changing). Keep an open mind, it could change your life, it really honestly and truly could! Nope, don’t try and thank me, it’s nothing, just spread the joy by giving it a whirl at the next parkrun you find yourself at. Actually, why limit yourself to parkrun? Run wild and free anywhere and any time the mood takes you, you can only spread joy if you do so. Afterall, as the prancercise guru herself says ‘why settle for mediocrity when you can prancercise yourself into ecstasy?‘ Good point. Well made.
So, back to basics, I wasn’t going to particularly blog about this week’s parkrun until the prancercise opportunity offered itself up by way of sacrifice as the topic of choice for the week. Now I am, I might as well fill in a few of the other blanks.
Allocating parkruns in advance has become quite stressful as the Smiletastic challenge heats up. (I really can’t be bothered to go into all that again, read the Smiletastic blurb on the Smiley Paces website if you must have clarity) . Pertinent here is the fact that for the first time in my life, an accident of birth (the year in which I was launched screaming into the world) has allocated me into a winning team. Yes, technically the clucky ducks have limped ahead in two weeks, but basically we Fighting Feathers have stormed it throughout the months of January and February. Points are allocated for various things – including participation in timed runs, but (and this is the killer) only one point per parkrun, so you have to divvy them up with precision ahead of a Saturday, which is like herding cats. Have you never tried to herd cats? Well, take it from me, it’s extremely hard. Our team has ended up drawing up a table of runs and pledges to undertake them come weeks in advance (and I’m not even exaggerating for comic effect there, just so you know). It’s terrifying. I did well to nab a local one, and as the only representative of my gang there, then had the pressure of worrying about what if some terrible accident befell me and I couldn’t make it? in the days leading up to the parkrun. Stressful? There’s an understatement if ever there was one.
In the event, I did make it, and so did loads of other Smiley Paces Smiletastic participants. I have to strike a balance between being friendly to my running club-mates, without too much actual fraternisation with the enemy so to speak. Wouldn’t do to let slip that we have started creating our own spread sheets for example. Unfortunately, my desire to blurt out everything that is in my head in a stream of consciousness to anyone in the vicinity, whether they are listening or not, isn’t entirely compatible with our pact of secrecy on pain of death. Oh well, I tell myself, if I’m the only Flying Feather here present, how will the others ever find out what I’m up to anyway?
Pretty brisk out, and personally, I thought parkrun was a bit quieter than usual to be honest, though I have no independent evidence of this, and I can’t be bothered to look at the results to confirm or deny my claim. However, the main thing was that there were enough friendly faces around for some pre-parkrun chit chat. Discussion about Longshaw tomorrow; Smiletastic; life the universe and everything; running anniversaries; running injuries; running ambitions; running future aspirations; running legends; running memories… I think it was fair to say there was a running theme. I managed to drop into conversation that I’d seen Jessica Ennis in the woods on Thursday. She’d walked past when we doing some particularly eccentric running drills, and we all acted nonchalantly. As Accelerate were trying to take photos anyway for some reason (perhaps to promote the running workshops, but it might have been for their personal under the counter collection, who knows), I thought it would have been funny to stop her, and ask if she’d take a photo for us so we could all be in the picture together. I just figured it would be a change for her to be asked to take a shot, rather than be in one. Actually, it’s probably unfair to mention we saw her at all, she’s allowed to go for a walk undisturbed. I just can’t help myself because she is awesome. It is a bit like seeing a unicorn, a sighting of a super-athlete like her can only ever make your day better. Unlike participating in the running drills, which did not make my day better, and which only time will tell whether or not it has improved my running either. I enjoyed it retrospectively though, so all is not lost…
Off, up and running, I was lost in the crowd early on, and I do freely concede I have got a bit of ‘am I supposed to be having fun yet‘ face on me, but dear reader, you will be pleased to know that I did eventually find my stride and two running buddies too, yay!
The key things about parkrun this week, were that it was a lovely day, cold to start, but OK when you got going. The park was lovely, and due to some technical experimentation, that was explained on the Sheffield Hallam parkrun facebook page but sounded like white noise to me, there were some particularly fine and atmospheric photos. Look:
Not much hanging around at the start, just thanking the volunteers, be nice to other park-users and we were off. I was in a pretty slow and steady mood, I told myself this was because I was saving myself for the exertion of Longshaw 10k on Sunday, but in my heart of hearts it was because I ended up companionably running alongside my new best friends who seemed only too happy to give prancercise a whirl. We were at a gentle pace, and I was feeling pretty confident that I could maintain this chatty pace quite comfortably. I only discovered later that all that was happening by going at the misleadingly sedate pace of the youngest member of our happy trio, was that I was lulled into a false sense of security.
Don’t get me wrong, we did have fun, playing ponies, chatting about fancy dress options etc, but it all got sticky towards the end. We got to the bus stop on Rustling Road, second lap, and from nowhere, our young companion announced she was going to do a sprint finish. I have never seen anything like it, she just shot off like a rocket on acid (to be fair, I don’t know if that would make a rocket faster or not, I’m just trying to emphasise a point, suspend your disbelief if necessary, and go with the story). I honestly tried really, really hard to keep up, but managed a paltry 50 metres or so before I had to concede I had not chance, and was being completely left for dust. What’s more, having peaked so early, I could practically taste the metallic hint of blood in my mouth where my lungs had apparently exploded, or possibly imploded, I’m not medically qualified so can’t really be sure. I had to watch the others disappear over the horizon, whilst I jogged onwards, trying to look ‘not bovvered‘ and hoping it wasn’t too obvious I had at one point seriously entertained the notion of finishing with them. Here they are finishing, you can’t help but notice where there were three, now there are two…
Subsequently, other adults in possession of children (are you allowed to say it like that? I’m sure you know what I mean.) Tried to make me feel better by explaining that apparently it’s quite common for young people to be able to turn on the explosive run in this way, but they don’t have the stamina of the post fifties like myself. Well, I appreciate what they were trying to do, but I’m pretty darned sure I didn’t have sprint reflexes when I was growing up in the age of Bay City Rollers, Raleigh chopper bikes, waiting for the test card to finish so proper telly to start and collecting tin can pulls for Blue Peter appeals. Nor do I seem to have gracefully metamorphosed into a fine specimen of post-fifty finesse with endurance and stamina in old age. What’s gone wrong there then? Are they lying, or is it all just me, further evidence of my inability to succeed and failure to live up to even the most basic of expectations in life? No don’t tell me, some questions are best left unanswered.
Oh, here is a random photo of Smiley non-Smiley who now is a Smiley, in her first outing as a Smiley at parkrun (officially) though I couldn’t help but noticing on the results she’s not outed herself as linked to us on the parkrun database as yet. Still, useful to claim her as our own methinks. She has an extraordinary capacity to leap whilst being photographed, I have always considered this to be further evidence of her goddess like running talent, however, I can report dear reader that if you skip along doing prancercise all the way round, you may well find yourself airborne despite yourself. I wonder belatedly if this is what she has been doing all along? Makes you think, doesn’t it?
Adding insult to injury, just when I had moved into a calm state of acceptance and decided to just lope home and pretend I’d never intended to do otherwise, I espied a Smiley comrade at the finish. She saw me, and shouted my name, I felt compelled to oblige. I dug deep in one last effort, and really went for a sprint finish. It was the hardest I’ve run in weeks and probably months. And I was really grateful for the encouragement. I was also relieved to see this fellow Smiley, as it was she who was mysteriously incapacitated after running with Smiley non-smiley prior to the last Longshaw 10k, I’ve been worried sick about her ever since! Anyway, the effort paid off, as did my new Strava toy. Now I have been inducted into the mysteries of Strava segments, my strava route informed me that I improved that last chunk of running not insignificantly. Maybe one day I’ll learn how to use the darned thing properly, and then my awesomeness will escalate even further. Or maybe it won’t we’ll just have to wait and see.
So, another run down, bit of mingling, bit of thanking the volunteers who are as awesome as ever. I’m feeling bad that I’ve not volunteered for ages. I will do when the pressure of Smiletastic restores the element of freewill to parkrun decision making. How giddy the prospect makes me. I wonder if I will find I have become so institutionalised I can no longer make independent decisions about my running? It’s a real worry. Oh well, it is a real worry, but it is a real worry for a later date. Meantime, here are some nice volunteer shots:
So that was that. Goodbye everyone, until next week. Breakfast – no room at Jonty’s again even though we were only two. One of our number having selfishly broken her arm and other having been despatched to Concord parkrun in pursuit of bonus points. So it was we we went off piste and headed to Sebastians, which was good actually, apart from our table’s close proximity to the toilet and the fact they completely forgot about our order. When it came I liked the bread (granary toast) a lot, and it was unhurried, always a boon – and just as well in the circumstances. Good to ring the changes now and again, is it not. Plus, they do amazing looking cake, keep meaning to go back there one day for a cake only concept outing. One day perhaps, one day soon…