This weekend I participated in what I’m ashamed to say was probably my sixth or seventh Parkrun. It was my first time at Parkrun Wimbledon, held on the common.
For those of you who don’t know what Parkrun is, listen closely! Parkrun is a weekly (Saturday 09:00), measured and timed 5k run. It is marshalled and free to enter! All you have to do is register online, download your unique barcode and presto, you’re in. You take your barcode along with you each time you run so it can be scanned at the end and included in the official timings, published later on Saturday.
My work schedule means I’m not available too often on on Saturday morning, but every time I make it to Parkrun I love it. It really embodies everything that is great about running and the community involved. There are so many benefits to it, but I thought I’d try and pick out some specific reasons it is worth going. Incase there was any doubt.
Firstly, embrace the herd mentality! Before my first marathon in 2016, I had no experience of running with others. Parkrun, particularly in London, can have hundreds if not thousands of participants. Running in crowds is great fun, but can be a little daunting if it is your first time. Use Parkrun to build your confidence in these conditions. Start lines especially can be quite intimidating places, as everyone jockeys for position for the first few hundred metres, much like in a proper race.
Next, go with your flow. There is no pressure to perform at Parkrun. People run fast, people run slow, people walk, it doesn’t matter. Everyone is there to have fun and enjoy the experience. You can use it as a warmup for a run later in the day, or simply a way to shake off the cobwebs of the work week. My Saturday breakfast always tastes that much sweeter after exercise.
Thirdly, the community aspect. You can meet hundreds of people each week from all walks of life. Plus, when you run, you’ll fall in with a group of similar pace to you, why not get chatting? Someone may share your goals or be competing in the same race as you in the future.
Practise condition specific running. Wimbledon was the first Parkrun I’ve attended that is run entirely on trails. This time of year, the trails are soft, muddy and a bit sketchy underfoot in places. This would be perfect training for a spring trail marathon, or just as a nice alternative to pounding pavements all week.
Parkrun is all about Volunteering. The race is organised and marshalled by people giving up their Saturday morning so you and I can run. As a soon to be volunteer, I make this point to remind myself as much as anything else. It always feels good to give something back.