I ran my first Parkrun on 13th April 2013...almost exactly 9 years ago. I don't remember why I signed up or what motivated me to do it, but I ended up running every weekend for a couple of months. I then took a break for almost a year, then began running for a few weekends in 2014. My Parkruns have been a little sporadic over the years, but they have always been there for me when I wanted to go. After all this time, I am finally approaching my 50th Parkrun! But why do I go after all of these years?
(above: A photo from my local Congleton Parkrun hitting my most recent PB!)
If you're not familiar with Parkrun - it's a free, timed, 5K running event at 9am, every Saturday morning at a park near you, (yes, there are over 1,100 in the UK to choose from) and they are suitable for any ability of running. You can even walk the whole thing if you want to. And you don't need to worry about finishing last either - there's always a tail walker at every event, so you'll never be the last over the finish line.
Parkruns are a great way to engage with your local community, people from all walks of life and ages attend, from little ones with their parents, seasoned runners, people taking their first step of their fitness journey and grandparents too! The atmosphere is always so friendly and encouraging, and the event is run totally by volunteers. I also like to give back to my local Parkrun, and have volunteered several times now, and try to do it as often as I can.
I know many people who attend weekly, some of my clients have achieved milestones such as 50, 100 and 250 Parkruns which is an incredible achievement! They've then gone on to advance in their running career and attend bigger and longer races. Once you have signed up to Parkrun, you can attend any of them you like. It's quite fun to go and be a 'tourist' and attend a Parkrun further from home - many events will also ask for a shoutout if you are a tourist to find out where and how far you've travelled from.
Doing a Parkrun on a Saturday is a great way to start your weekend; it gets you up and out of bed, feeling like you've done something productive and giving you energy for whatever you plan to do with your weekend ahead. I would highly recommend and encourage you to sign up and try a Parkrun if you haven't already. My local Parkrun is at Astbury Mere in Congleton where the volunteers are friendly and helpful.
For me, Parkrun encouraged me to start running in other races - I've now been running for over 11 years and in that time have completed races such as the Wilmslow Half Marathon, The Course D'Escalade in Geneva and The London Marathon. However, I still love going along to my local Parkrun on Saturday mornings when I can. Did you know they also run a special festive run on Christmas Day and New Years' Day?
If you need a little bit of confidence before starting your first Parkrun, why not come along to my Thursday night running club? We meet on the same course and run sessions in a 'Couch to 5K' format. You can book on via my website if you'd like to come along and try a training session with me.
If you want to sign up for Parkrun - what are you waiting for? You can do it by clicking here. It's totally free and a lot of fun!
Whatever you do - make sure that you enjoy it!