News & Media

Tim Sorrell: Blog 2

By Tim Sorrell

12 April 2016

It’s a marathon, not a sprint.  How many times in your life have you heard that expression?  It’s only when you start training for a marathon that you leave metaphor behind and develop a rather more literal appreciation of what that phrase really means. 

I’m sure that nearly everyone understands that a marathon is 26.2 miles long (or at least that it’s a really long way to run)… but it’s only when you train for one that you begin to understand that the run itself is really the easy part: those 26 miles are the last steps of a journey that has seen you spend hours and hours of your life running literally hundreds of miles through the cold and dark of winter.

Actually, funnily enough, even though marathon training is about the steady accumulation of miles, it’s the shortest runs in my training programme that have provided me with the most inspiration.  Every Saturday morning, I attend my local parkrun at Colwick Park in Nottingham. Parkrun is a free, timed weekly 5km run that is open to everyone and takes place every Saturday morning in locations all over the world. What I love about it is how inclusive it is: the first finisher (parkrun doesn’t have a winner) might be running the course in 15 minutes, but there will be other people who take closer to an hour to cover the same distance but absolutely everyone is welcomed into the parkrun community.

I’ve met so many extraordinary and inspiring people at parkrun that I find my goodwill levels topped up every week. There are brilliant runners here who happily give up their own time to help other people by volunteering to help make the event happen.  I’ve discovered that life is great in the volunteer’s high viz: waving runners in the right direction, manning the stopwatch or scanning people in at the finish… any role is a joy, even in the freezing rain.  Whisper it quietly, but marathon training or not, I’ve maybe started to enjoy volunteering more on a Saturday morning than I do running... well, rest is an important part of any training programme, right?

It’s at parkrun too that I first got the opportunity to do some guide running with a visually impaired runner.  How can you fail to be inspired and humbled by someone like that? My legs might be aching from a really long training run, but Terry can’t see and he still puts his trainers on most weeks and enjoys a run around the park.  Sometimes he falls over, but he always picks himself back up, dusts himself off and keeps on running.   It certainly puts all my problems into perspective, anyway.

Running can seem like a solitary sport, especially when you’re at the back end of a 22-mile training run and not a single person has offered you so much as a jelly baby.  At parkrun, I’ve discovered a community that stretches well beyond a Saturday morning and it’s definitely changed my life for the better.

I’m running the marathon to raise money for the MS Trust. https://www.mstrust.org.uk/

You can find my sponsorship page here: http://virginmoneygiving.com/TCMS