For those of you who don’t know what Parkrun is: It is a free 5K running series of events that are held around parks and open spaces on a Saturday. There are many in the UK and different countries and their aim is to get people active and fit!
Well, what can I say I am hooked! It’s completely FREE and is run by an amazing network of volunteers who stand and cheer you on to give you the boost you need. It creates a network so that means even if you go to different Parkrun events, you are around like minded people who just want to run! (who else is going to be there on a Saturday morning!). You also get a great practice run for events because you are trying to get a good time and you start with other runners but it isn’t as competitive and there are a lot of different abilities there.
All it takes is you registering online to get a free barcode and you take it with you (no barcode, no result) and then after your run you have it scanned. They will also keep your details online so you have your personal best and you can rack up points too for the yearly competition.
Parkrun is fantastic, I definitely recommend it to anyone whether you are a competitive club runner or doing a couch to 5k you should pop alone and try it out, everyone is really friendly. Here are some of the things you will learn if you do:
1. It’s OK to go solo
Don’t feel like you have to be chatty to everyone, it’s a great atmosphere but people want a good time and may not want to wait. You will always have those who are chatting but if you’re on your own and still want to get a run in then it’s a great atmosphere and you can just run!
2. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover
If you think you can tell the fast regular runners you can’t! Runners come in all shapes and sizes and it’s fantastic to get some confidence – even if you don’t feel you look like a “runner” the chances are someone else is looking at you going, wow look at that runner! Also just because someone is 7 and tiny doesn’t mean they aren’t going to speed past you with their little legs :p (This is the voice of experience)
3. How to be supportive
Running can be a very personal experience because you are aiming to be the best you can and improving against yourself and a lot of the time you are out on the road pounding the pavement on your own. But from the beginning at Parkrun, there were people supporting from the sidelines and even the fast club runners cheer you on and pick you up as you’re going round. You know how it feels to be tired and want to give up so you join in and cheer them on as they finish and it helps to see others struggling like you were because it teaches you compassion and support!!
4. It’s a family affair
If you want to get your kids involved in running then this is a great atmosphere, kids of all ages can run with an adult but they also have junior 2k events for 4 – 14 year olds if you want to ease them in gently. It teaches them to be active, get healthy and discipline because it is first thing Saturday morning so it gets them up and out of bed – perfect for teenagers! Also, it’s great competition for yourself, the amount of kids that have overtaken me is very humbling! haha
5. It’s addictive
I guarantee once you’ve gotten your results, you’ll want to go back and smash them again next time! Meeting new people and going to the events is a fantastic atmosphere and with the great organisation and participation from the volunteers and spectators, it definitely helps to bring the community together. With so many like-minded people you won’t want to go back to running on your own for a while!
6. Running stops for no man! (or woman)
Parkrun is on year round (it is very rarely cancelled) and that includes holidays (including Boxing day on Christmas!) rain or shine (or snow). The organisers and volunteers don’t stop so neither do we! We also took part in the Halloween run last year too which made for some great costumes!! It reminds you that there aren’t any excuses and you can incorporate running easily into your life – and it’s a great laugh!
If you aren’t much of a runner but are up on a Saturday and want something to do then come along and volunteer! Having smiley faces cheering us on can be just the kick we need when we are starting to lag!
*A Special shoutout to Tilgate Parkrun in Crawley for organising a great run for everyone, the atmosphere is fantastic and there are some lovely kind people there who are incredibly supportive and keep me coming back for more!!*