Beth Flaherty recounts her tales of a run that is not so daunting after all
In no way would you think that getting up at some ridiculous hour on a Saturday morning, to run 5K, sounds like fun. But, believe me, it was a good decision and one that I now make every weekend.
It all started about two months ago, when a family member asked me to do the Park Run run (no that is not a typo) with them. I didn’t really know what it entailed, but starting the weekend off with an uplifting run created quite an appealing image (I thought…). Yet, there was just one problem – I wasn’t a runner. In fact, I couldn’t run for more than 5 minutes without feeling as though I was about to collapse. Running just reminded me of doing the 1500m at school, which sent shivers down my spine. All that seems like a long time ago now, and after completing Couch to 5K, I’m totally hooked on it.
So, what is Park Run?
Park Run is an organised 5K that takes place in hundreds of parks across the UK, every Saturday at 9am. It’s led by volunteers, so is completely free. All you have to do is sign up online, print off your barcode and turn up ready to run! The route is already mapped out for you, which is great, and at the end of the run your barcode is scanned which gives you your time. This is then sent to you in an email, which also lets you know where you rank amongst other runners in the same park, as well as across the country of your demographic.
Mildly confident that I could complete 5K in a decent time, I decided to take up the offer of embarking upon the Park Run. My first experience was in The Quarry Park, Shrewsbury. I found it useful to run with someone else, as it meant I had to keep up a fast pace. It’s surprising how quickly the time goes, and I was able to finish in a much shorter time than I was expecting. So, I decided to do it all over again the next Saturday except this time, in Highbury Fields. The route was a little different as essentially, it was just completing five laps of the park. But still, it’s a great opportunity to run with others, meet new people, and motivation to achieve a new personal best.
The benefit of living in London is there are 47 Park Runs just a tube’s journey away, which means you could do a different one nearly every Saturday of the year if you wanted to! I’m not sure that’s my aim, although I do plan to check out the Park Runs in Richmond Park and Wimbledon Common at some point.
I would definitely recommend Park Run to anyone and everyone, whether you’re an experienced runner or just getting started. It’s a great community and the perfect incentive to get moving on a Saturday morning!
Featured image: Wikimedia Commons