I am just getting back into running after a few years focussing on other fitness challenges. After a couple of weeks’ training I entered my local Parkrun to test my fitness and set a benchmark for future weeks.
For those unfamiliar with it, Parkrun is a national project offering free weekly 5km runs in local parks. To enter you register online and print out a barcode which is your personal ID. You then go to your local Parkrun event, run the race and give them your barcode at the end. Your personal results will then come up on the website a few hours later. The aim is to beat your personal best time or keep it consistent.
In the race I did the fastest runner was just under seventeen minutes (very good club standard) and the slowest 44 minutes (brisk walking pace). In between were over 300 others including children with parents, teenagers, pensioners and people pushing buggies! It really is a very open, welcoming atmosphere with the focus not on winning (there are no prizes) but on being the best you can be and getting all ages active. For many it was their first Parkrun and others have done over 100!
Losing motivation is one of they key reasons people stop exercising. Although my time was a lot slower than when I raced regularly five years ago, my Parkrun time on Saturday was still 15-20 seconds than I hoped so I found this really motivating. Even if I had been slower than I hoped, the fact that Parkrun is held every week means I would only need to wait seven days before trying to run better.
Parkrun also uses a grading system that compares you to the best times run for people your age and gender. This means you can set up a little friendly rivalry with friends and colleagues if you wish to see who gets the best grade for their age and gender, meaning you can have a fair competition between the sexes and across all age groups.
If you need a little motivation to get running or know a friend who might do check out where your nearest Parkrun is at http://www.parkrun.org.uk/. You can also use the Facebook like or Social Media Share functions at the bottom of this article to let your friends know about Parkrun.