My First: Parkrun

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I’d been meaning to try parkrun for a while. I’d heard such great things, and I’d never actually raced a 5K distance previously. But the way my training plan and workout schedule fell, I was doing intense workouts on Thursdays and Fridays, meaning I was knackered by Saturday mornings and in much need of a lie in. Nonetheless every Saturday I slept in, I felt like I’d missed an opportunity to get a workout in and meet other runners.

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JK I know it’s not that early.

I expressed these sentiments one Thursday on Twitter, and thanks to a retweet the guys at ukrunchat, I received a torrent of gentle bullying, motivation and overall endorsement of parkrun, with an undercurrent of Get your shit together, it’s not even that early. So I committed to a parkrun, publicly, on Twitter. No escape. My close friend and fellow runner Rachael was coming to stay that Friday night, so I now had even more accountability. Having done parkruns in the past herself, I knew she would drag me out of bed if needed.

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Panic kicking in

With a no excuses type attitude, the morning start wasn’t really a problem. I was a little cranky at having to run without my Garmin (which had inexplicably broken); and very forgetful, meaning I left my barcode at the flat and had to loop back to go and get it. But still, I made it, and that’s what counts.

On arriving at Hilly Fields I nervously headed over to the group of people in brightly-coloured lycra that I assumed to be parkrunners. Thankfully, I was right. There was very little fuss, apart from the health & safety speech and plenty of clapping and cheering for newbies, volunteers and those celebrating parkrun anniversaries. And then we got to the running bit.

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Not having the best of times

Now, this was painful; Hilly Fields was not a misnomer as I had hoped. It was indeed very hilly. Hilly as fuck, in fact. But Rachael had come along and cheered adorably like a proud mother on sports day, which raised my spirits. She also captured some cracking photos of me looking pained, unimpressed and downright murderous as I huffed up hill after hill. As an insight, my internal monologue went along the lines of:

  • Why the fuck am I up this early?
  • And running?
  • Up hills?
  • Shit, I just got passed by a guy with a stroller
  • Have I seriously not covered 5k yet?!
  • Did I get lapped by the guy with the stroller?
  • Shit.
  • Where am I going?
  • What am I doing?!
  • Shit.

Eventually I finished with a time of 24:04. Not too shabby for a first-timer. I caught up with Rachael at the finish, before heading home for breakfast with a feeling of satisfaction that lasted all day. Several runners from the Twittersphere checked in with me, and I was pleased to say that I had in fact done it, as promised. And it wasn’t so bad after all!

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What I wish I’d known before my first parkrun

  • There’s really not a lot to it; you don’t have to be particularly fast, or fit.
  • Everyone is really friendly!
  • It’s low key and unceremonious- just a bunch of people who want to tootle round a park at a pace that suits them.
  • Having said that, it’s really hard for me personally to be surrounded by other runners and not race them.
  • You absolutely need your barcode. Almost learnt this one the hard way.
  • The volunteers are absolutely what make it. In fact, by the time you read this, I’ll have completed my first ever stint as a parkrun volunteer (blog post to follow)!

Have you tried parkrun? What’s your advice for a beginner?

Lots of love,

Pippa

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18 thoughts on “My First: Parkrun

  1. That shit sounds FUN! We don’t have any Parkruns (at least that I know of) on this side of the pond, but we do have quite a bit of trail running available to those who love to run through the woods with wild abandon. And inevitably trip and fall flat on one’s face, but I digress. I love trail running. I also love that you were bullied into doing something outside of your comfort zone. And had fun doing it! Nice and zippy too! 🙂

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  2. 24:04 on a hilly course? Dang girl you were hauling!! Nice job!

    I’ve never done a Parkrun – I don’t think we have them around here. I’d totally try one if we did. I’m planning to race a 5K in October and I’m excited about it but also nervous. I haven’t raced a 5K in forever and in my opinion it’s one of the hardest races around – I do much better at long distances. But I’m eager to see how I’ll finish and I know that one of the things I need to work on in my running is pushing myself a little harder in my shorter runs and learning to tolerate discomfort.

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    1. Haha thanks! Sadly I haven’t gotten back to it again since I injured myself, but I weirdly enjoy running hilly routes so I’m very keen! Parkruns are great, I can’t say enough good things about them. I mean, free 5k races EVERY SATURDAY. It’s amazing. And there’s a real sense of community- today I volunteered at one and someone was celebrating their 100th parkrun, meaning there was a little speech before the race, and then homemade bakes at the finish line. So sweet!

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  3. this sounds like so much fun! i wish i had some great parks to run around in the morning but sigh just the same neighboorhoods. the only reason i like morning runs is because i have the rest of the day to get my stuff done. good for you to committing to this I know night owls dont love early mornings 🙂

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    1. Yeah morning runs are a struggle for me. I mean, not when it’s just an easy one, but doing a timed 5k (essentially a pace run) is something I struggle to drag my ass out of bed for! Running has definitely made me better in the mornings, I finally get that sense of satisfaction when I arrive at the office with a workout under my belt! Not to mention the guilt-free noms…

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