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Why I run: Prolific parkrunner Nick Overy explains how he made it all the way to 500 parkruns

Nick Overy racked up his 500th parkrun at Gorleston recently and discusses what keeps him coming back for more

How did you first get into running?

As a youngster the only time I would ever go out running would have been when I was forced to at school. Even when I was growing up through my 20s and 30s I still couldn’t see the attraction of running about the streets getting cold and wet. Things changed in my very early 40s when my son wanted to try to get fit and I spotted an advert for a new event starting up locally called parkrun. It was totally free for runners or walkers of any ability so I took my son along to give it a try. I was there just because he needed a lift and I had absolutely no intention of taking part. The next week my boy wanted to try it again to see if he could beat his previous time so I thought that as I had to be there anyway I may as well give it a go. I was surprised how much I enjoyed my first run since school and decided that next week I would return to try and beat my previous time. I had without realising started my running habit!

What do you like/dislike about running?

The reason I like to go running is that it’s a great way to keep fit and you can also get away with eating more food as you burn off loads of calories doing something you enjoy! Another bonus of running is that you don’t need a lot of expensive equipment so it’s great way to lose the pounds and much cheaper than joining a gym. It’s also a great way to meet new people with similar interests as yourself. The only bad thing about running is when you can’t do it because of injury or wintery conditions.

What gadget/item of clothing could you not do without?

I personally like to run with a watch, I used to have one that would keep a track of distance run/calories burnt etc. It’s a great way to help with pacing and looking back at previous runs to keep track of your progress. Unfortunately mine has after seven years or so died but I will be treating myself soon to a new shiny replacement!

What’s been your favourite event that you’ve taken part in?

I think my favourite event was when I joined my son and about 10,000 others doing a five-mile anniversary run around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. This was the first sporting event held at the venue since the amazing London 2012 games the previous year and the finish line was actually inside the stadium! I was slightly injured back then so I had time on route to take in all the amazing sites without worrying about where I finished.

500 parkruns – did you ever expect to reach such a total and what do you like about parkrun so much?

When I started parkruns I never thought I’d reach the total of 100 runs let alone 500! The event takes over your life because it’s a great way to start the weekend with people who all love the same thing as you. I’ve made many friends over the years and really look forward to Saturday mornings to do it all again. It’s not just the people who are taking part it’s also great to see the many friendly encouraging marshals, volunteers and spectators.

Do you ever find it hard to gain motivation to run? Why/why not?

I do go through periods when I just can’t be bothered to go running especially during the cold winter months but even then I always manage to find the enthusiasm to fit in a parkrun. Nothing would put me off, any weather, even flu doesn’t stop me getting my weekly fun! Even when I go away for the weekend away my partner knows what I’m like so we only stay in areas with a nearby parkrun!

What are your running goals for this year and why?

Last October I celebrated my 50th birthday and had planned 2018 to be a year of personal bests at many events especially as I was going to be in a new older race age category! This year all started well but unfortunately due to a foot injury I’ve had to put those plans back a year. I think my own parkrun pb of 19:16 is safe for another year!

Have you had to change your training regime as you’ve got older?

Now that I’m getting older I find that I need to be a bit more careful how many runs I take part in. Days of giving my legs a rest are important and so is stretching after running which when younger I never really bothered about.

What is your best piece of advice to runners?

The best advice I would try to give is that do whatever you enjoy, whether you like 5k runs or marathons. If you are having fun then it doesn’t really matter how fast or slow you are. Plus don’t go off too fast, pace yourself!

Is there anyone you look up to running wise?

I used to love the era when we had so many amazing runners especially the likes of Seb Coe, Steve Cram and Steve Ovett. These runners may have peaked many years ago but each generation produces new heroes to support.

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