If you have told me this time last year that I would look forward to my weekly 10k run through Thetford Forest with the Fernhoppers, I would have laughed out loud. It’s hard enough walking when you weigh 125kg and your knees are buckling under the weight.
But then a kindly physio referred me to a scheme called Livewell Suffolk. Over the twelve week course I examined my lifestyle and then made a few adjustments. The Livewell group sessions are held in the leisure centre and include free membership for three months. The cunning plan is that you try out the gym equipment and exercise classes. I became addicted first to Body Combat and then to Circuits.
Someone in Circuits mentioned Parkrun and I looked it up. I thought that I would measure a 5k circuit from home, have a go in private and time myself. The first waddle took 70 minutes. But as the weight came off, so did the time. When I was down to 50 minutes I decided it was time to go public and so I signed up for Parkrun and got round without stopping in around 45. The friendly Parkrun became a weekly event. Getting a new Personal Best is a great feeling!
The same runner who had coaxed me along to Parkrun (he really is called Frank, whereas I am not) got injured and he offered me his place on a curious-sounding race, the Wibbly Wobbly Log Jog. I knew the step-up to 5 miles would be a challenge. The organisers agreed the swap and once I had felt the springy stuff under my feet and seen the green canopy above my head, I was hooked. The extra miles and weekly training sessions mean that I am still getting back into shape, but all this activity is also knocking minutes off the Parkrun time too.
And that’s how I came to be a Fernhopper but perhaps I should also explain how I became “Frank”: There were already six other Steves in the club, including the mascot, an inflatable giraffe. Over the years people have often put Frank and Spencer together. I quite like it really, but I would never wear a beret, despite being a French teacher.