Parkrun: Lessons learned as big 50 approaches
Parkrun. Pretty much the whole of the UK must have done at least one of these by now. October 7 sees the movement’s 13th birthday, since starting in Bushy Park, Teddington in 2004.
The movement has become increasingly popular. After a few stop-start years, I’m approaching my 50th. Parkrun that is, not birthday. I’ve just five more to go until I claim a t-shirt to mark the milestone.
With this in mind, here’s my hopefully handy top five tips if you’re planning to run a parkrun soon.
Mind the melee at the start of a parkrun
Depending on your approach, this can often be the most unenjoyable/competitive part.
At some parkruns, the sheer popularity means there can be hundreds of people taking part. Which means lots of elbows so things can sometimes get tasty. There’s often a runner who will storm past and cut right in front. Just relax, it’s fine! They’re not Mo Farah making a bid for gold so resist the urge to give them a sneaky trip. Find your spot and stick to it – after a few attempts you’ll know roughly where to start without getting trampled.
Run your own run
Focus on your own little space, don’t get into an unnecessary battle and wear yourself out. You know your level of fitness so don’t get sucked in to a race. It’s a run remember and there’s the same prize for first finisher as the 351st.
Slow and steady up the hills, relax down them
This comes with a little experience. It was best put to me by a pacer during a parkrun I did and has stuck with me since. “Slow and steady up the hills”, was his repeated mantra. It was all the more impressive as he could say it without puffing … the show-off.
It can be difficult charging up your body for a 9am start!
This is something I find tricky each week. My usual running takes place mid-morning, or certainly later in the day. It doesn’t make any difference how hard the working week has been. Setting the alarm on a Saturday is the first hurdle to overcome. The parkrun’s easy after that 🙂
Running three successive miles is a good challenge when you feel a bit sluggish. It’s all the more satisfying when you’ve completed it. And you can always head back to bed if it’s wrecked you!
Eat something before your parkrun
I’ve tried many recommended fitness foods on the morning of a parkrun. And sometimes eating nothing, but just drinking some water. I prefer some early AM grub though. My staple is a bowl of porridge (water, not milk thanks). That fills me up and offers slow release energy, enabling me to combat waking up and the actual run. Those not ready for a heavy intake could try half a banana or a piece of toast. Anything that gives energy and sits well usually works.