The parkrun phenomenon has taken off. Every Saturday morning thousands of people participate in these free, timed and marshalled 5km runs in towns around Australia and other parts of the world. They’re fun, relaxed and community spirited events that bring people together in a positive atmosphere. I for one love them and can’t recommend them highly enough. So to help encourage others to get amongst the parkrun action, I’ve come up with a few simple bits of advice. Hopefully they help motivate you to take part in your local event and you too enjoy your parkruns as much as me!
Make it a family affair
Sharing the parkrun experience is one of the best ways to not only get motivated to go, but to get the most out of it. Invite your family and friends along for the run and make a morning of it. Grab coffee afterwards or take the kids to the playground so it becomes an outing that everyone enjoys. You’ll be surprised how addictive parkruns can be. Before you know it, it’ll be part of your weekly routine and a time when you all get together to do something that’s really healthy for both the mind and body.
Volunteer every few weeks
Every week there are good folks that give their time to enable everyone else to have a run on a timed, marked course, free of charge. Without these volunteers, parkrun would be like road races where you pay a fee to participate. So it’s good to occasionally be a course marshal or pacer yourself. Plus, giving back often feels better than doing the run itself. Some people never even take part in the parkruns and rather volunteer every week. These are what I call legends!
Be part of the community
There’s more to parkrun than a 5km jaunt around a park. These are community events that draw people together to share in a positive and healthy pursuit. Many parkruns will organise meeting points for coffee and catch-ups afterwards, so it’s well worth making the time to meet a few fellow ‘Parkies’ and share a beverage or post run snack. You’ll also discover that loads of the runners meet during the week for training runs. So what may start as a Saturday ritual may well become a whole new lifestyle as you embrace your new running community.
Don’t just stay local
It makes sense to start your parkrun journey in your local area. After all, convenience is a major reason why they’re so good! But it also pays to spread your wings a little and venture to other runs in the region around you. This will not only help prevent getting bored with doing the same course every week, but opens the door to meeting new people and seeing different sites. Plus, you’ll find that every course has it’s own unique attributes and challenges, which test you in different ways. Another thing I like to do is be a Park Run tourist! If I find myself in a new town on a Saturday morning I’ll often visit the parkrun website to see where the nearest event is. It’s a great way to get motivated to do a solid run while you’re on holidays or away with work.
Treat it like training
It can be easy to fall into the trap of toeing the line, full of nervous anticipation of the pain and race that lies ahead. For some, that’s fine, it’s why they do these events. But for the majority, if you simply want to have a fun morning out and test your fitness, nervousness something you want to avoid. To do this, don’t set lofty goals or try for a PB every week. Turn up like you would any other training session, without tapering or stressing out about it all week. Plus, arrive early so you’re not in a rush. Think of it as being just another Saturday morning run with a stack of likeminded individuals along for the ride.