A walk in the park…or run, rather.
Do you love running or walking in charity events, fun runs and races? Do you detest walking or running at all other times, on the treadmill and especially by yourself? Have you been searching for a way to keep yourself motivated to walk and run, in a regular, pressure-free, community environment?
Well, look no further. If you don’t like getting off your backside then I can’t promise you’ll find the topic of this post riveting, but by all means, read on, and see if I can change your mind.
Today is Saturday, and that means the time has come again for my Saturday morning ritual. My weekly parkrun.
If you consider yourself a runner (and that can be ANYONE who runs even a little bit! If you get off the couch, put on your joggers, and move yourself at a pace faster than a Sunday stroll, then you’re already on your way! No pun intended…) and you haven’t heard of parkrun, you don’t know what you’re missing out on.
To avoid reinventing the wheel, here is what parkrun say about themselves on their website:
“parkrun organise free, weekly, 5km timed runs around the world. They are open to everyone, free, and are safe and easy to take part in.
These events take place in pleasant parkland surroundings and we encourage people of every ability to take part; from those taking their first steps in running to Olympians; from juniors to those with more experience; we welcome you all. “
In a nutshell, they are free, community led, timed runs in suburbs all around Australia and the globe. You simply register on their website, download your personal barcode, and find out which run is nearest to you. Show up on a Saturday morning with your barcode, walk or run the 5k, and scan your barcode at the end. If you forget your barcode you can still run, but you won’t get timed. Why wouldn’t you do it?!
I, personally, have tried three different runs. The Logan River parkrun was my first insight into what the event is all about, and when I moved closer to the city I changed to the South Bank run. I also had the fantastic opportunity to try the Windsor parkrun on their premier event – it was so good to be somewhere supporting an event, and doing something good to my body at the same time – for free! On top of that, you get to be out and about, and sometimes see some beautiful scenery.
They have a photographer at each race. As you can see in the photos below, even those of us with funny knock-knees can do it! Recently the mean photographer has been stationed near the finish line, leaving for less than attractive photos – but really, I don’t care how I look while I’m pushing myself, the redder I am the harder I know I’ve had to push! (Photos care of the Facebook pages of Windsor parkrun, Logan River parkrun, and South Bank parkrun).
Runs are currently held at 101 locations in Australia, with more runs starting every month. The website has all the information you need on each event, with a route map, volunteer positions available, and directions on how to get there. If you go on holiday, or move house, you don’t have to worry about missing out on your weekly run, because you’re almost guaranteed to have one nearby.
As it’s a volunteer-led organisation, they do ask that regular runners find the time 3 times a year to volunteer instead of run. This can include timers, barcode scanners, pace keepers, and a number of other jobs. You obviously don’t have to be a runner to volunteer, so if you yourself don’t run or walk, but you have a partner or friend who does, make a morning of it together. Volunteer while your friend runs and do something good for the community.
As the weather heats up, it is really easy to lose motivation, even if you are a regular runner. That’s why I value parkrun so much. It’s so much easier to get out of bed when you know that there are a hundred other people at the event you have been brave enough to face the discomfort of the weather! I have yet to run in the rain, but the sunny days are going to create a challenge, one which I’m looking forward to facing!
It’s such a thrill to see my run time improving week by week. You can see how you ran compared to everyone else, how you placed in your age bracket, and how you have fared compared to your other runs. My current personal best is 29 minutes 45 seconds…I’m a little slower now that’s its been upwards of 27 degrees in the morning, but I’m working on it!
So go on, do it. Who knows, you may even enjoy it.