Parkruns are amazing, they are great, they are fun and you never regret running them (although you will regret not running them). I would probably say they are the biggest and potentially most important thing to improve health in the UK since the smoking in public places ban. I am incorporating parkruns into my training for the 2019 London Marathon which I am running for the RNIB (text SMTR76 £1 to 70070 if you want to sponsor me a quid). This blog is about today’s parkrun at Strathclyde Park, a great parkrun, where else would you get views like this on a Saturday morning while keeping (or getting) fit?
I am not too sure of the history of parkrun, I know it began in London at Bushy parkrun and Leeds University played a big part in its growing popularity and now it is in many locations around the world. You could find out more at their UK site.
Parkrun is a free timed 5k race which happens all over the UK in various park at 9am (0930 in Scotland – we get a longer lie up here). They set you all off on your run and start a timer. As you cross the finish line you get a token which is then scanned with your own personal barcode and hey presto – later on that morning you get a text message telling you your time. Today’s parkrun seem to have been heavily supported by the CO-Op.
It was another crisp morning, not cold enough for frost and ice but cold enough! Classic anticyclone in winter weather (one for the geography geeks).
Soon we got to the start of the event. I always like this bit. First of all everyone has to stand on the grass! We don’t have priority in the park and everyone has equal access etc. This is a decent moment because they wish people Happy Birthday, congratulate people on milestone parkruns and ask for volunteers. Parkrun couldn’t operate without the amazing volunteers and I really should make the effort to volunteer myself but I am always scared I will mess it up! I have volunteered at junior parkruns a few times but not at Strathclyde Park, that will change next month, I promise.
So, we set off. It is important to remember that parkrun is not a race, it is a run, you are running against yourself and your previous times or you are running for the fun of it. I realised this on my 2nd parkrun. I struggled round and was stuck for ages behind 2 younger children. In the last 200 metres I “sprinted” past them, feeling all smug and a little guilty, but mainly smug that I was defeating them. When they tore past me 100 metres later I came to the convenient realisation that it is not a race!
You very often see the same people at these runs. One of my favourites is the man with the pram who always effortlessly runs past me despite pushing his child in a pram. I also was running behind a lady in a New York City Marathon jacket, again making it look effortless whilst I struggled on! I couldn’t get past her at all! But she summed up parkrun for me by asking people who looked like they may be struggling if they were ok – all runners seem to be really nice.
As we continued through the run I realised I wasn’t going to crack 25 minutes today. I came pretty close. My final time according to my Garmin watch was 25 minutes 11 seconds, my second best time I think.
My splits show I could have probably pushed kilometres 2-4 a little more, but I am always scared of burning out, I need to trust the training! After the race was finished we got our little boxes from the CO-OP, it contained a healthy recipe book, a tin of chick peas, some tinned tomatoes (I love them) and a bottle of extra virgin olive oil.
So, there finished another parkrun. I can’t quite get over to you how much I enjoy these. They tick every box for what a good ethical organisation should be. They combat lots of problems we are facing at the moment. They benefit you physically, mentally and socially and if I were a doctor I would be prescribing them left right and centre.
Just as i was about to publish this my result came in. You get it sent as a text and you can also see it on the parkrun website along with your progress if you want. 295 runners today, brilliant!
Thanks to parkrun UK, the amazing volunteers (especially the wee girl with the cowbell at the turning point) and the CO-OP for today, that was great – again.
If you have managed to read this far and want to find out more about the work of the RNIB who I am running the London Marathon for you can check them out here and if you want to sponsor me you can do so here or text SMTR76 £1 to 70070. You can also donate 2, 3, 4, 5 or 10 pounds that way too.