Saturday, August 27, 2016

I went to a Parkrun


I've been running for a couple of years. I woke up a week after my 35th birthday and had the motivating realisation of quite how out of shape I was and that this would only get worse if I didn't do something about it. I worked my way up to 5km and then to 10km, running 4-5 times a week over the first three months and maintained a habit of doing 2-3 10km runs a week since.

We've moved to Beeston and I decided to join a running club and start doing the Beeston Parkrun five weeks ago. Running with others is still very new for me. To be honest, the idea of a running club and timed running had intimidated me before, but I'm enjoying it and haven't felt any of the pressure I imagined might be the case.

Some observations...
1. I'm reasonably fit but way behind some. I'm averaging a top 60 finish out of 180-220 people which feels good. PB currently 24:37.
2. Running with others makes you run faster as they pull you along, or it destroys you in your head as you see people run away from you. I'm learning to run with people who are roughly comparable to me, and to run my own race. A new skill and I feel fairly incompetent. My times are relatively consistent, three out of five times within a 9 second window. 
3. I didn't think I was a competitive person, but when you run timed it's hard to not compete - against yourself if not against others. That's pushing me to get fitter and faster, and that's probably no bad thing. 
 And...
4. Parkrun, here at least, is a friendly community. People run at 9am on a Saturday morning because they enjoy running. Numbers fluctuate but there's a substantial regular crowd I've seen every week. It's a diverse community, ethnically, socially, and in age and fitness. Beeston Parkrun "winners" tend to be in their early 20s and are running 17-18mins for 5km. There are some very fit and fast people in the older age bracket! Everyone is welcome however quick or slow they are. 
5. Going to a local cafe for breakfast after makes it more fun. We share an experience round the track and then get to know one another more over large mug of coffee and poached eggs on toast for £2. 
6. Doing Parkrun as a member of a running club is great because it makes the Parkrun an easier social experience - lots of familiar faces. A handful of people from our church join in too.
7. Clear instructions are given, newcomers are welcomed and oriented and applauded before the race, and volunteers are celebrated too. It's a simple thing to do that makes a big difference.
8. People muck in and help out to make it happen. I've not been on the roster yet. As a newbie I'm keen to get a good series of runs done before taking a week 'off', but I look forward to volunteering later in the autumn.
If you've never been before, why not get down to your local Parkrun next Saturday morning.

Images - Creative Commons - Steve Miles.

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