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by Laura Elfes
05 August 2017

At the age of 13 UK park runner Laura Elfes set foot in Poole Park at 9:00am for her very first parkrun. It was painful to her mum, who ended up promising Laura a cake if she kept on going! Lara has since done more than 50 park runs and has never looked back. This is 16-year-old Laura’s story as told in her own words.
I'm not sure if my mum ever regrets taking me to that first run on 28 June 2014. On my very first parkrun she carried a water bottle in her hand and passed it to me every time I grunted at her. Over the next few months my only goal was to not walk the whole way round. I caused my mom so much grief over the next year in this park with grunts, groans and complaints. But I don't know where I would be today without this amazing event or without her incredible persuasion that got me round week after week. The slightly chubby cheeked and very unfit teen was enjoying this exercise!
A slight bump in the road
However, in 2015 I started to develop knee pains, these became so severe I had to stop. I had many physiotherapy and podiatry appointments. These revealed that I had completely flat feet, causing my knees to roll in and the joints to be under stress. On top of that the muscles surrounding my knees were weak. I set off to the gym, determined to return to my much-loved Saturday morning parkrun. I completed all the exercises I had been given at least four times a week. For reasons such as they were so boring, I became fed up with the endless repetitions of leg raises and with little show of improvement, I started to loose hope.
One day, whilst completing my exercises on the gym floor, my mum's class instructor invited me to join their circuit class. I soon became a regular, leading me to discover a massive range of classes like Les Mills body attack. Slowly but surely these weekly training sessions started to help strengthen the muscles that I needed to. I still can't believe it took me so long to change from lying on the gym floor trying to do some exercises on my own to finding classes filled with people and loud music playing!
My comeback
Equipped with some new insoles, shaped to my feet, combined with strenthened muscles, eight months later I was back at my beloved parkrun. I had returned fitter and stronger than before and my times started to improve again. I experienced problems from my insoles rubbing, at one point sporting 8cm longer blisters on each foot. I soldiered on, making sure to strap up my feet before hand. I still struggle with blisters now, but nowhere near as bad as back then. My routine of two laps around the lake and once around the cricket pitch every Saturday was back, and I was even more in love with parkrunning than before.
Christmas Eve 2016 brought me great happiness; I finally became a member of the 50-club! For those of you who don't know what this is, once you have completed 50 parkruns, you receive a red parkrun T-shirt with 50 written on and a 50 badge next to your name on their website. This milestone made me realize just how far I'd come.

Fitter and stronger than before
2016 came and went, new PB's were set and a new friend from school became an amazing running partner. Which brings me to the beginning of 2017, 52 more parkrun opportunities! I have since knocked off more time from my previous PB and feel fitter and stronger than ever before. Every time I step foot into Poole park I contemplate how far this simple morning run has brought me.
I want to say a massive thank you to the organisers at parkrun, The Poole parkrun and all the volunteers who clap me on, without fail, every week. Currently 11 minutes and 49 seconds lighter I hope I've proved that with trying and trying again anyone can improve. Without the gym, I would never have recovered as fast as I did, the gym classes brought me into the fitness world and eventually helped me create my very own blog too.
I hope I've proved that you don't have to be a great runner to go to parkrun. I love seeing the variety of people who turn up every week. I'd say you are your own worst enemy, but occasionally I do get a little competitive!
If you want to know more about my workout routine or if you have any questions, just let me know on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook: @courgetti_blog. Or you could send me a message via my blog.

Article Keywordsparkrun

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