I would kiss ‘parkrun, I would marry parkrun, I would take parkrun to the cinema and book back row seats…I LOVE parkrun!
For everyone who’s ever done more than 5 parkruns, you will understand why I’m so passionate about them because to do 5 you must have enjoyed it enough to give it a few more goes.
For those who’ve never done a parkrun this is for you!
parkrun (NO CAPITAL ‘P’) organise free weekly, 5km timed runs around the world. They are open to everyone, free, and are safe and easy to take part in. They are situated in many places and are growing at a very quick rate.
As a personal trainer, the message I get from most potential clients is that they want to lose weight. Not many mention fitness levels as it seems to be about looking good on the outside…but what about the inside?! The message the media seem to push onto people is that if you’re fat, you should be embarrassed, most magazine shelves are filled with mags that have dedicated pages of celebrities looking chubby or celebrities losing fat in 5 seconds etc. We need to get away from this condemning attitude and focus on how people can feel great inside themselves.
BMI, weighing scales and to a point body fat measurements can all have a negative effect on people’s mental state. Gym membership can be expensive, personal trainers too (better value though!) and due to this I hear people saying that they don’t have the money to get fit…WHAT?!?! People don’t want to buy healthier foods any more because they can get cheaper ‘crap’ food (crap meaning mass-produced so can be sold cheaper) and with the state of the economy sometimes you can’t blame them ( I would suggest they reduce their SKY TV package to a minimum before buying ‘value’ food!).
What people need is something that is free and will help them get fitter, something that is sociable so they enjoy it and keep doing it, something that will help them feel better inside, lose weight, lose bodyfat, something that becomes so addictive you want more and more and more…LADIES AND GENTLEMEN…THIS is why I introduced #FitTeam15!!! 🙂
Joking aside, as well as the twitter phenomenon that is #FitTeam15, there is of course parkrun.
I used to see this organised run every Saturday morning in Bushy Park when I worked for British Military Fitness when as I was sorting out the register or the bibs, I’d watch people of all shapes and sizes and colours (and by that I mean the redness of their faces), crossing the line with a big smile or by punching the air or arm in arm with someone else. I never knew it was free and I never knew they ran it anywhere else.
I moved to North London to be with my girlfriend Kirsty back in 2010 and did my 1st parkrun at Finsbury Park. An undulating course with a nasty hill that you do twice. I did it on 2nd Feb and in a time of 20.16. As convenient as it was…10 minute jog from our front door to the start line, I only did it 2 more times that year, probably down to the fact that I was commuting to South West London at 5am most days and Saturday was lie in day!
In January 2011, I set my self the ‘New Years Resolution’ that I would break 20 mins (PB was 20.08 set on 13th March 2010) so on the 8th January I ran a 20.17 so was really determined to break the 20 minute barrier. To help me, I turned to what I knew best…KETTLEBELLS!
I came up with a workout called the 100 reps. On Monday I would do 3×100 reps with a 16kg, Wednesday 2×100 with a 20kg and Friday 1×100 with a 24kg. Then every week I had to add-on 50 reps onto each day. This was used to increase my stamina, my strength, my cardiovascular system, my mental state, my BEAST MODE and boy it did! On the 2 following Saturdays, I ran the Finsbury Park parkrun and posted PB’s of 19.49 and 19.13! BOOOOOOOOOOM
Problem was that we’d bought a house in West Molesey and spent most of 2011 doing it up whilst Kirsty and Sam lived in Gosport so I commuted back at weekends to see them. During December, I participated in a challenge called the Marcothon which was to do a 5km every day in December. A tough challenge at the best of times but made harder by our house move that month, but it was a move that took us very close to the birthplace of parkrun…Bushy Park.
It was through me using my then Twitter hash tag #FitTeam12 to motivate my followers that I decided to lead by example, which is a very attractive trait to see in a personal trainer from the eyes of potential clients. I got in early with regards to the New Year’s rush and did my 1st Bushy parkrun on Hogmanay which was obviously my last run of the marcothon. I posted an 18.11!!! A massive 62 seconds off of my hilly Finsbury parkrun PB but a time that had me absolutely delighted!
In 2012, I did 23 Bushy parkruns and in December visited a few of the local ones like Kingston, Richmond and Wimbledon.
To motivate you more, parkrun, along with one of their sponsors ‘tribe sports’ give you t-shirts after you’ve achieved a set number of runs. They are 10 (children only), 50, 100 and 250. I was now on a mission for the Red ’50’ t-shirt and by the end of 2012, I wasn’t too far off. I have achieved my 50 and recently achieved the big 100…I can’t wait to wear the black one with pride!
I ended 2012 with a PB of 17.42, so far from the 20.16 I had started with and am currently sitting on a 17.26 achieved in February last year. An unbelievable goal of mine is to join the sub 17 group…I WILL achieve this! ;-).
In 2013 I was on a mission to join the ‘Most Events’ page which means I have participated in 20 different parkruns. I managed this by thinking ahead and seeing if there was one not too far away (beauty of living within the M25). I’ve done loads of local ones as well as Cardiff, Coventry and even Aberdeen (hometown).
From what you’ve already read, you can probably see why I love parkrun but this doesn’t even touch the surface. The other reasons why I’d ‘go to bed with parkrun’ is because I look and admire the other parkrunners, the unfit, the unhealthy, the families, the dog walkers, the pram pushers, the pb hunters, the juniors, the celebrities, the club athletes, the cancer survivors, the marathon runners, the fun runners, the sub 15 runners, the 60 minute finishers…everyone can be and everyone is a parkrunner.
Some of my 108 runs have been used to pace my clients to new personal bests, some of them have been used as a warm up prior to half or full marathon training and some have been nice steady runs with my little boy in his buggy even though we’ve recorded seven sub 20’s too (pb is 18.59!). All of them have helped me be more motivated especially at Bushy Park because it’s very rare for there to be less than 850 people turn out and they’ve went over 1000 20 times. Once in 2012, 10 in 2013 and 9 so far in 2014. (figures need to be updated).
Fancy joining in? Well register here and print off your barcode. If you can, get loads laminated as I was forever peeling out washed ones from my shorts prior to each run. Go on your chosen parkrun’s twitter or facebook page and introduce yourself. All parkrunners know what parkrun is about so you should get an enthusiastic reply very soon. Now all that’s left for you to do is to get there early, (with your barcode…no barcode, no result) walk, jog or run 5km, cross the finish line (you don’t even have to do that, of course you have to if you want your result recorded), collect your position barcode, get it and your one scanned, hand their one back and be on your way or hang around to chat to the many people there. A few hours later you will receive a text and an email with your result and on-line you will see everyone’s results including the 70-74 year old woman who’s done 260 parkruns…It’s AWESOME!!! My Mum has recently got into parkrun and on visiting me did Bushy parkrun in 27m03s…she’s 61!!!
Did I mention that this was all FREE?!!! Even if you don’t want to run, you can volunteer for one of the many roles involved in putting a parkrun on and you will not believe the thanks you are given as the parkrunners fly past you because it is a family and as a volunteer you are certainly appreciated!
So, going back to my point about the weighing scales etc, do parkrun as it’s more addictive, better for you, less demoralising and cheaper than anything else out there…trust me, I’m a personal trainer.