You know how everyone & their cat wake up on the 1st January preaching the new year new me mantra, chugging down pints of matcha tea and relentlessly browsing hashtag BBG & Kayla Itsines from their bed? Yeah, that wasn’t me. I was sat there drinking cocoa milk with a drop of Baileys and flicking through my ‘Discover Food’ board on Pinterest (it’s good, SO good – have a look here). That was until Shaun suggested we go for a Parkrun. What the hell is that?!
Parkrun is essentially a 5km running event held across 14 different countries on every Saturday morning. It’s completely free, timed and absolutely ANYONE can run it (or walk it).
And you know what it also is? Bloody addictive. I didn’t know that on the first run though.
?? My first ever Parkrun
In fact I was pretty sceptical when we decided to join our first Parkrun. I ain’t a community kind of spirit – I don’t like gatherings of large groups of people I’ve never met before. It makes me feel queasy and inadequate. Especially when it comes to sports – I ain’t a sporty type, I’m wobbly – and I cannot run (although you could have read in my previous diary of a reluctant runner that I ain’t all that bad anymore). And a bunch of people watching me struggle with life essentials like breathing, moving forward and just generally not dying fills me with dread. But with the mince pies jiggling in my belly I thought you know what let’s just do it. We looked up where these runs are (they are EVERYWHERE – just in the UK there are almost 450 different places to run it at) and the closest one to us is at Walsall Arboretum (a neat little park on the edge of the Black Country, just outside of Birmingham). When we got there I was so overwhelmed by the amount of people. There were over 400 people lined up to run a 5k race on a Saturday morning at 9am. Everyone was ever so friendly and nice to each other – and the range of runners was fascinating too. From kids as young as 4 or 5 years to men and women in their 70s. Dads with prams (who actually RAN the race with the prams – and surprise surprise – were all faster than me). People with walking disabilities. People in wheelchairs. Literally anyone you could think of. And they all ran & gave it their best shot! The fastest runner did the race in about 17 minutes and the slowest took about an hour to finish – but everyone finished and everyone was so damn proud of themselves! It took me exactly half an hour to finish – my lungs were on fire, my face was peaky AF and I thought death was surely upon me but it was also one of the best runs I’ve ever done.
?? Why is Parkrun so great?
?? It’s completely FREE
?? They are EVERYWHERE – & if there’s not one around where you live you can sign up to start it
?? No one judges you – everyone is so so friendly and supportive of each other
?? A bunch of volunteers make sure the course is safe & signage is put up around the course
?? When registering online (here) the system assigns a barcode to you – print it off & bring it with you so you can get your run timed
?? Running with others pushes you to try your hardest – everyone’s giving it their best so you’re less likely to give up and walk it all
?? ANYONE can run – if you can’t run, you can walk it, and that’s perfectly fine
?? After the run you receive an e-mail (and a text if you register for it) which tells you your time & position
?? Knowing your time means you can track your progress (I’ve managed to go from 30:40 to 29:10 in a few weeks which doesn’t look like a lot but trust me, it’s a borderline miracle in my books)
?? You make friends – some people will cheer you on, some will run alongside you to push you, some will tell you well done once you’ve finished
?? It’s not a permanent membership like a gym – if you don’t wanna go you just don’t, and no one judges you for it (I sometimes feel like the gym receptionist does though, don’t you think?)
?? You can run with your friends, with your family, with your kids, with your dog even
?? You don’t have to stick to one location – you can be a ‘tourist’ at a different parkrun every Saturday if you want to
I’m well impressed by the concept of Parkrun & the community that’s growing around it. What I also like is that you can actually go for this run when you’re on holiday too – it’s held in so many countries including Russia, Singapore, Poland and Australia, just to name a few.