I started running because I wanted to get active and could not afford anything more than running. I’ve said this before, but: I hated every second of it. Then I started doing ParkRuns and it pretty much changed my life.
ParkRun (noun): weekly 5KM runs all around the world, free of charge.
I’ve been doing ParkRuns for just over a year now and I’ve loved every (huffing and puffing) second of it. So far I’ve done four in South Africa: Nahoon Point, Hobie Beach, Big Bay and George. There are ParkRuns in nine different countries… and counting!
What I love about ParkRun is the community. The vibe is celebratory and not competitive. “Winning” is a dirty word – each runner (and walker) competes only against themselves. Volunteers along the way cheer you on, even if you are walking at a snail’s pace. Everyone is NICE, which makes it a pleasure to wake up early-ish on a Saturday morning (runs start at 08h00).
For me, ParkRun was the nidus for moving beyond running out of a sense of obligation. Running became fun, which definitely contributed to my more recent running adventures.
Here’s how to prepare for a ParkRun – especially if you’re a “beginner” runner.
You don’t HAVE to register, but if you do, bring your barcode and your time will be recorded and emailed to you. And if you decide that you love ParkRun, you will get a super cool T-shirt when you do your fiftieth recorded run!
2. Drive early
Parking at the more popular runs is quite tight, so you’ll want to get there early if your parking is as atrocious as mine! Also, it is nice to be there early and soak up the vibe while warming up.
3. Or don’t drive at all
If you live close by, ParkRun encourages you to walk, run or cycle to the run!
4. Listen to your body
ParkRun are often at least partially trail or beach runs. I take ParkRuns as my opportunity to put my running app on mute and just do what my body allows – run till I can’t anymore, then walk, then run again.
5. Don’t fret
Don’t start too fast. Don’t be focused on whether you’re being overtaken. See #5.
6. Have fun
ParkRun is without a doubt one of my favourite parts of my week. I might up my runs to a regular 10KM soon, but I’ll never stop enjoying ParkRuns.