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Run Anglia: How parkrun keeps Kevin Piper coming back for even more

Kevin Piper uses running to maintain his fitness. Picture: Kevin Piper

Kevin Piper uses running to maintain his fitness. Picture: Kevin Piper

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How did you first get into running?

Kevin Piper uses running to maintain his fitness. Picture: Kevin PiperKevin Piper uses running to maintain his fitness. Picture: Kevin Piper

I guess it’s a familiar story; a few years ago I stepped onto the scales and didn’t like what they were telling me. I wasn’t exactly fat, or overweight, but felt I needed to do something to keep things that way. I mapped out a local one-mile circuit and started running a couple of times a week.

What do you like/dislike about running?

I was introduced to Parkrun a couple of years ago. It’s brilliant. I love the camaraderie and the fact it attracts such a cross section of people; all ages, all fitness levels. I must admit I got a bit of a shock first time out when I was overtaken by a bloke running with a toddler in a pushchair, but that’s what it’s all about - totally inclusive; you can run, jog or walk as quickly, or slowly, as you like. I try to get to Catton most Saturdays with my lad Jack. He soon disappears into the distance, but so he should... he’s a lot younger than me. I can’t say I’m a big fan of hills, or any kind of upwardly mobile incline, come to that. Don’t believe all this talk about Norfolk being flat. It certainly doesn’t feel that way on the second loop around Catton Park.

Being a busy man, do you ever find it difficult to fit running into your life?

I’m away quite often and it can be difficult to find time to fit in a run because of the work schedule. Having said that, I have managed the occasional run in some interesting parts of the world, including New Zealand, Miami Beach and around the lakes in Finland.

Have you had to adapt your training as you’ve got older? How?

Not really. My aim has always been to get out and run 5 kilometres at least three times a week. I don’t always manage it, but other than that there’s no real strategy.

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

I have a runner’s watch my daughter Alice bought for me. I wouldn’t be without it, as I’m sure any regular runner will tell you. As well as monitoring progress as you run, it’s really useful to be able to download details of each run and compare times and performances year on year.

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

I don’t tend to do organised runs. I enjoyed a 10K at the Norfolk Showground a few years ago and applied to take part in the inaugural Run Norwich 10K, but it turned out I was out of the country on the day. Same thing happened the second year. I’d like to do it next year all being well. In fact I’ll make that a New Year’s resolution.

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

In a word, yes. I would say motivation is absolutely the key word nowadays. Staying in shape came easy when I was young. I played football, or some kind of sport, pretty much every day, so fitness was a natural part of life. Obviously as you get older your routine and responsibilities change. Keeping fit is more of an effort; I often have to persuade myself to get out and run, especially this time of the year when the days are short - and cold.

What is your best piece of advice to runners?

It might be stating the obvious, but make sure you get a pair of proper, quality running shoes. When I first started running I just used normal pumps. I then went to see my old mate Neil Featherby who carried out a thorough video assessment of my running style and kitted me out with a bespoke pair of trainers. It really does make a difference.

Is there anyone you look up to running wise?

There’s a remarkable old chap who often power walks the Catton Parkrun. If I’m able to get round like he does when I’m his age, I’ll be delighted. He’s an inspiration and a great example of why parkrun is such a brilliant concept.

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