Parkrun: Let’s give it a go!

Am I a Runner Now?

I spend a lot of my time riding bicycles and that is where I am very happy, content and know what’s going on, well some of the time. This running malarkey that I have dabbled with in the past (random runs when I needed to get out the house or relieve some stress and a bike wasn’t available!). I have no goals, no times set for certain distances, I’ve never raced apart from the Duathlon where it was all about the biking part for me, the runs were soooo hard! I am essentially a newbie with just a simple pair of old trainers that get me by just now.

I recently moved closer to work (not sure if that is a good thing) but now I have been running to work and back and occasionally extending the run home to get a proper run in, but each time I do this I am broken the day after and walking is even a struggle! It’s a tad different to biking in that respect for me. I can generally get back on the bike the day after with not to much fatigue or pain. In all this running excitement I bought some nice Salomon Speedcross 3 GTX trainers (unfortunately got sent back after the speed lace snapped after 2 months and not replaced), got the running leggings and even the underwear, oh yeah, check these out, made from Runderwear, love the tagline.

Anyways so I have some of the gear, though still don’t agree with the guys in the really light and short running shorts!!! Anyway, that’s my running background (not a lot). I spotted that I actually had a Saturday off work and knew about these Parkrun events happening up and down the UK, so thought I’d give it a go and see what it was all about!

What is Parkrun?

There’s no point me describing it when they do it so well themselves! Taken from there 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.” Parkrun

7416162e31af72d274927e906a956b22It’s been around for a while, officially becoming ‘Parkrun’ in 2010 and has just snowballed with now over 2 million people registered to run in countries all over the world, who knew! It was super simple to register and feels all official when you get a barcode to print out (this allows you to get your run time recorded (all official like!). You then make your way to the venue. I nearly drove, but not knowing how busy the place would be I decided to run to the run! It was at Tredegar House that was just under 5km from my house, so in the end I ran just under 15km, ah well, good warm up and cool down! There was enough space to park if you got there a little early, but it was pretty full when I was leaving. That’s pretty much it, you wait to run, warm up, stretch, pee, do a dance, whatever you like until they call you up to get the show on the road!

The Run

 

I have pretty much been a solo runner, so it was a really nice experience to run with a heap of other people in such a relaxed atmosphere. There was 551 out this time (weather was lush, if a little too warm for some) so it brought out quite a few. There was a ‘first timer’ briefing, which to be honest I didn’t really hear, but got the gist that at the end you needed to filter in, get another barcode (this had the position number you were) and then head over to scan your barcode and that one to get a time recorded. That was about it, oh and enjoy!

Everyone shuffled in, I was told it’s worth getting through the gates so you have a quicker start. I took this advice and noodled through a bit closer to the front, but not too far as I had no clue where I would end up in this field of I’m sure seasoned runners! There was to my surprise a few runners with there super keen and excited dogs on short leads joining. Very cool to see how much the dogs just wanted to go, think some were going a little stir crazy waiting for the countdown. After a few other announcements, Strava turned on, headphones in, it was time to go! 3, 2, 1 and we were off.

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The keen beans at the front, not me just yet!

Now I have learnt that it’s very easy to go out too fast and then fade massively later on, so as this was a first attempt, I was actually quite controlled and kept a manageable pace, I thought anyway. There’s not too much to say about the run itself, there were a few puddles, a bit of mud, some sand and a bridge to cross, nothing extreme. It was nice to be on varied off-road terrain, not a fan of road or level ground running, to dull! The route did 2 laps of the grounds and then a straight line down to the finish.  There was always someone slower to pass which made you feel good, but there was also someone faster over taking you (made you want to chase them down) as well as those keeping a good pace to stick with. This ended up with a guy and his collie after the dog had stopped to pee, then poop a little later on (the nature calls…!). This all keeps motivation high and determination to push just a little more than I would when I go out for a random run. It was really fun, I was pleasantly surprised by the whole thing and was worth the early start on a Saturday morning!

The Results

I had a thought that I might do 5-6 minutes per Kilometre, so a rough finish hopefully of sub 30 minutes would be cool. It turned out that I had bettered what I estimated with a quite respectable (I think so) time of 23:05 so, 4:35 per Kilometre. I am pretty chuffed with that especially never been running in that environment before. I wasn’t expecting anything more than being sent my individual time, but oh, it is so much more than that. Statistics galore, here’s all the info I received…

“Congratulations on completing your 1st parkrun and your 1st at Newport parkrun today. You finished in 71st place and were the 7th female out of a field of 551 parkrunners and you came 3rd in your age category SW30-34. Take a look at this week’s full set of results on our website. Well done on your first run. We have set this as your PB.

You achieved an age-graded score of 64.12%. For an explanation of age-grading, please see the WAVA age grading overview.

You have earned 94 points for this run, giving a total of 94 points in this year’s Newport parkrun points competition.”

I feel like I have entered into a whole new world and could see that for some it could become very addictive, chasing PB’s, increasing averages, getting as many points as possible. I suppose that it’s not a bad thing to be addicted to though, improving ones fitness can’t ever be bad until it’s obsessive, I digress! I shall not be one of these addicts, yes it was fun and yes I will partake again in the future, but unfortunately due to the nature of my job having a Saturday let alone a weekend (God forbid!) I won’t have the opportunity to be a regular runner. I think you could get to know a great bunch of people if you are a regular.

 

If you have considered giving it a shot, don’t think anymore, DO IT! There will be one fairly close to you. Park run is not ageist, speedist (made that word up!) or any other …ist you can think of, it’s simply running or walking if you prefer. It’s a great way to start the day, it’s good for your fitness and your well being and costs absolutely NOTHING! You have no excuse, you can even double it up with a dog walk followed by tea and cake (if you’re local park has those facilities!).

So there you go, my little thoughts on Parkrun, it’s all good really, not a bad word to say here! I may be cursing it tomorrow when I can’t move, but just now feel suitably tired. I did run 15km and then decide to go for a 40km road ride just to finish me off! Just love being outside when the weather if fine! Whatever you do, enjoy it that’s what it’s all about!

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You can even have guilt free snacks…Yes I made Soreen unhealthy with Nutella, am I bothered, it went beautifully with my Pint ‘o’ Tea, OH YEAH!

Happy Running AND Cycling!

 

 

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