If you haven’t heard about Parkrun, they are an amazing network of free, timed 5K runs held all over the world.
How it works
You register – for free – and are given a barcode. You print the barcode and take it with you on your run. At the end, you are given a chip which marks your finish time and then this is scanned against your personal runner ID on your barcode. Simple.
The results are published later and you are ranked overall and according to gender. They also level out your performance by comparing to a whole bunch of other runners of your gender and age.
You might be thinking “Okay, that’s lovely information…but why should I do it?”
Well, let me tell you…
Why you should do it
1. It is really easy
It’s so easy to register, then you just turn up and go. No admin on the day. The most difficult thing in the whole process is getting your printer to work.
Unfortunately, they aren’t able to scan the barcode on your phone, so you have to print it. This is probably to stop hold ups in the queue at the end. Printed barcodes are more reliable and they just use simple scanners.
2. It’s not a race against the other people you run with
Unless you choose to race other people. Which you might. They may not even know. I chose a few markers to know how I was doing progress-wise. I chose them based on how memorable they were and whether they looked faster than me. Very subjective!
The point is, it’s just a bunch of people who show up to run. There is a wide range of abilities with no judgement. There might be people running it in 15 minutes and others doing it in 50.
3. You will learn new things
Watching the way other people run is interesting. I saw some really smooth looking runners and some really clunky looking ones. It helped me focus in on my own form, which is always good.
4. You will meet new people
I made friends with a lovely lady. We locked our bikes up next to each other by chance and just started chatting. She gave me some great feedback and even complimented my form! She also congratulated me on my time, which was a really good feeling. I talked to her about Fartlek and tempo running and how we were both working on improving our pace. It was just a lovely, simple, conversation.
She was a friend fling – I will probably never see her again. But I just love that feeling when you talk to someone who is lovely straight away. It makes me feel happy about humanity. Woah. Deep.
5. It feels great to enjoy being outside with a bunch of other people
Exercise in the morning is great.
Exercise outside AND in the morning? That’s one of the keys to happiness, isn’t it?
My local Parkrun is in the forest – I’m very lucky. The smells are amazing and it’s mostly on tracks, not paved – perfect for me.
To enjoy that with a whole bunch of other people was pretty special, I was surprised.
6. It’s just a really great way to start the weekend!
By 11am I’d used 900 calories. I’d cycled 10 miles (5 miles each way) and run 5K before lunch. I wasn’t tired, I was invigorated. I ate, had a cup of tea and even some cake, I was full of enthusiasm. So of course, I went climbing.
It may have been the best Saturday of my life. It was certainly in the top 5.
6. Once you register, you can run anywhere
The network is worldwide. In a couple of weeks, I’ll be in Norwich on Saturday morning. I’ll be doing a Parkrun there and then getting on with our other fun plans (very excited about the seals!). My climbing buddy is out in America for work this week, he’s doing a Parkrun this weekend while he’s out there.
You don’t need to re-register for each run, you just take your one barcode and run. That’s it.
Once you’ve done that, you don’t have any excuses. If you’re free, you can just turn up and go for it