I am a big believer in Parkrun. For those of you that may not have heard of Parkrun it is a run that happens in parks all over the world every Saturday at 9am. People from all walks of life and all levels of fitness come together and run 5k, you have a bar code which you have to get scanned at the end, this is to record your run but you also get a plastic barcode which is also scanned to record the position you finished with. It isn’t a race, I mean someone has to come first (and last) but you don’t get any recognition for coming first or second or third for that matter. The aim of Parkrun is everyone coming together and running.

To be honest running wasn’t my first love. I didn’t really run in school (other than representing my school at cross-country in year 7) and I did join a cross country running club at school in sixth form which looking back, made me incredibly fit!

After Uni (where I played on the lacrosse team for three years) being inspired by the ladies team pursuit team in London 2012 I decided to make the jump into cycling. Although I loved and still love cycling (I even went to track lessons!) I found myself not fit enough to keep up in the beginner track sessions (beginners often rack up 80 miles a week at least) and found I was getting left out in the conversations about running as my friends and work colleagues were entering in races or running in parkrun. Hence I decided to get in on the action.

I turned up to my first Parkrun in 2016 in Wolverhampton as Cannock hadn’t set up a Parkrun at this point. I remember it well as I was getting constant stitch in my right side, my body just wasn’t used to running! By New Year 2019 I decided that this year would be the year I get my fiftieth shirt. By January I had only ran 23 parkruns so still had quite a few parkruns to go.

So how am I getting on?

By the time I am writing I am on 34 Parkruns. If I could have run every single Saturday this year so far I would be on 42 parkruns, so I have missed eight weeks worth of parkruns which does make me feel a little sick! If all else goes to plan I should run my fiftieth parkrun on the 26th October as I have a couple of prior commitments meaning I will miss a few but that feels scarily close to the end of the year.

I do feel somewhat that I have been on a parkrun journey. I have managed a PB this year and getting under thirty minutes was something really special as I had been trying for almost six months to break that 30 minute barrier and at one point thought it was going to be impossible!

This year I have ran in three different locations (Aylesbury, Keswick and Finsbury Park). Aylesbury was my favourite out of the three, as it is such a beautiful route. Keswick parkrun was an up and down route (2.5k there and 2.5k back and started from an old train station. At Finsbury parkrun I ran a 27.53 which I am so proud of and my fastest yet. I did wear too many layers for that parkrun and thought I was going to throw up due to overheating that warm February day took me by surprise!

Below I vlog on what running a typical parkrun in Cannock on a Saturday. is like for me with footage of me running the parkrun!

On the Bank Holiday Holiday weekend my partner and I headed over to Cannock Chase to go mountain biking for the day. Both being quite keen road and track cyclists, mountain biking was something new to try.
Cannock Chase is situated on Staffordshire which is in the West Midlands. Easily accessible from the M6.

You can hire out bikes but we both brought our own as hiring bikes are £30 each. My bike is nothing fancy just a cheap Apollo brought second hand. At Cannock Chase there are different routes to try with the black route being the hardest and the green route being the easiest. We both decided the Blue Route (the middle of the two) would be best- 7 1/2 miles long so not too short but not long for us as we both are not used to riding on tough terrain.

The signage is excellent and we soon got going along our way (just to note you can download trail maps from the internet). The paths are wide so you can go more at your own pace as you don’t feel that you are holding anyone up. The route was easily achievable with a nice selection of uphill cycling with some fun downhill riding and plenty of puddles and dips to go through!
On the blue route there wasn’t any obstacles to overcome however I am aware there are obstacles on the red and black routes.

Physically I found the ride quite tough. I hate cycling up hills so having a hill right at the beginning of the route certainly does not motivate me! It took around an hour and a half to do the route whereas if I was on my road bike I would have cycled twice the distance in that time. This could be because of the bike that I had not being the best.  However I felt that I had a good workout and Cannock Chase is lovely to look at. So I couldn’t resist stopping and taking a few photos.

At the end we wondered around a Swinnerton Cycles a shop that is situated there. The shop mainly sells mountain bikes and gear but also lots of nutritional food. There is also a pressure washer which for a £1.00 you can spray your bikes down which is extremely handy if you went in the rain like I did to get mud off.

The second time I headed back to Cannock I tried the longest of the blue route which was 12 miles. This time it was sunny therefore I managed to take some really good pictures. I had recently brought a better bike (a Carrera in case you were wondering) and sold my Apollo and it made such a difference. I found that the bike could cope better with the terrain as it was lighter. Even though the route was longer it was much easier on a better bike.

There are plenty of facilities at Cannock Chase as well as Swinnerton Cycles mentioned above there are toilets and a cafe shop as well as a go- ape course and you could hire a segway if you want.

If you would like to go mountain biking in Cannock Chase or see what else the park has to offer check the website out here


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