I remember when I first started running. A friend asked, ‘are you doing parkrun Saturday morning?’.
At the time, I had no knowledge of parkrun, how it worked and why it’s so beneficial for runners.
‘Maybe next week’, was my response. Putting it off was a huge mistake.
The benefits of parkrun are too good for you to miss out
Had I known why parkrun could have optimised my running life, I’d have joined much earlier.
Discover below, why parkrun is an absolute must for any runner because the benefits are too good to miss out. Don’t be like me and put it off. Seriously.
What is parkrun?
parkrun is a free, timed, weekly 5K run, organised by volunteers, within your local community. As its name suggests, they are held in parks and pleasant natural areas like rivers, woodland or by the coast. Currently, there are weekly runs in 533 locations in 20 countries across 5 continents.
Wherever you are, a Saturday morning parkrun should be nearby.
Hang on a moment: Saturday morning?
‘Wait. Saturday morning? You’re joking, right? My Saturday mornings are for lie ins, recovering from a night on the town, watching TV, chilling.’ Yes, Saturday morning. 9:00AM. Be there.
Trust me, parkrun is the best way to start your weekend, priming you for success. It gets you up, building relationships, developing consistency, enjoying the outdoors, getting fit and losing weight, feeling productive and diversifying your running routine.
Whatever you do on your weekend, starting it with a parkrun sets the sail for success.
parkrun for developing consistency
Consistency is key to reaping the many rewards running brings. parkrun is a fixed, weekly event.
Set a goal to commit to participating every week to bring discipline to your running regime.
Though we all start a running routine with the best intentions, it can be easy to miss a day because we ‘don’t feel like it’. Taking part in parkrun weekly, will instil discipline to stop one of the biggest enemies of all; procrastination.
If you’re feeling tired, uninspired and lazy come Saturday morning, parkrun will take place with or without you. A powerful motivator. If you struggle with consistency, commit to a weekly parkrun.
Bonus points for arranging to meet friends or family at the start line. You won’t want to let them down, you’ll show up. Once you start, you’ll remember why you love running anyway.
parkrun for building relationships
It’s all too easy for you to be a total solo runner, adopting a ‘lone wolf’ mind-set in your training.
Whilst running on your own is good, it’s best to mix things up at least once a week because running in a group helps you build relationships.
parkrun was founded on a sociable, inclusive ethos of bringing the community together. It encourages all runners, regardless of ability, to get involved. It’s popular, with an average 190 participating in each event.
Make friends with fellow parkrunners, invite a work colleague or client to build trust, run beside a romantic partner. Pursuing and achieving a common goal – the 5K run – with an existing acquaintance or someone new, establishes rapport. How?
Picture watching TV with someone, passively absorbed in the show, making the occasional comment on what you like.
Now imagine the two of you pacing along a picturesque river, shouting words of encouragement and tips for improving your running style, relying on one another for support. Who builds a stronger relationship? Attend parkrun to build relationships.
parkrun for challenge
What is life without a little challenge? Sure, comfort is nice and convenient, but we only grow when we push ourselves. When we venture outside our comfort zones, we find out what we’re truly capable of.
If you’re training for optimal fitness, a PB (personal best) or an event, benefit from the competition.
Though parkrun encourages runners of all abilities to take part, – you are even welcome to walk the 5K if this is comfortable for you – you can use competition from other runners as motivation to run faster, trying to place as close to the front as possible.
Running alone often tempts you to be casual in your pace. After all, there’s no one to challenge or overtake you.
Suddenly, parkrun places you in a field of 100s of other runners and there’s now a motive to pick up the pace. Try improving your position by 3 or 4 runners a week.
Each 5K run is timed with parkrun’s convenient barcode system (more on this below). After each race, your time will be visible on the parkrun website alongside an array of useful stats like your personal best, position, performance in age range, number of park runs.
Referring to this data can help you set targets and track your performance, helping you push yourself. Analysing your weekly times – which can be sent via email and text – could encourage a sub-20 5K goal.
Capitalise on parkrun for challenge.
parkrun for a love of nature
Albert Einstein once said, ‘look deep into nature, then you will understand everything better.’
Most races are in a scenic, beautiful spot in the outdoors like a river bank, a picturesque woodland or by the coast. A weekly parkrun can be a much-needed break from our chaotic lifestyles of commuting, using our phones and computers and constantly working. Studies frequently show exposure to the natural world makes us happier, more confident, improve mental health and creativity.
Why not share these wonderful places with people your close with? Attending your local and neighbouring, gives you a rich bank of great scenic locations for family and friend days out.
parkrun for a productive weekend
We’ve all seen the viral Youtube video of Admiral William McRaven giving his iconic advice to ‘change the world by making your bed’. Though seemingly absurd, his message is extremely powerful. William suggests doing a small task early on gives you a sense of pride, encouraging you to complete another, bigger task. Whatever your attitude, doing something creates productive momentum.
We can apply this to parkrun. What gets you up, moving and most importantly, productive, better? Imagine leisurely lying in till 12:00PM, wasting the first chunk of your weekend because there’s no reason to get up. You just ‘don’t feel like it’. Your weekend’s productivity may suffer because there’s no urgent call to action.
Make a 5K run your first weekend activity. The achievement will make you feel proud you’ve participated and invested in your fitness and health, encouraging more great action over the weekend.
How do I find my local parkrun?
The parkrun team have pinpointed each location on an impressive event map.
Zoom in on your area then hover over the gold pins to find your local event. Click your event and you will find basic details like the address, contact details for the organisers, information on where your community socialise afterwards (like a cafe). Get searching.
Find one near you here: http://www.parkrun.org.uk/events/events/
What do I need to do before I take part?
Parkrun is free and accessible to runners of all ages. To take part simply click the link below, fill in your basic details, confirm your account and print out your unique bar code (you will need this for volunteers to scan and record each race time).
Register here: https://www.parkrun.org.uk/register/form/
You’re now ready for your first park run. It’s a game changing, community lead event, all runners can enjoy.
Commit yourself to parkrun. Register, show up and take part. Your running life will be optimised.