My first Parkrun

Parkruns are fabulous. For those who don’t know about them they are free timed 5ks that happen weekly, normally on a Saturday at 9am.

Despite having seen plenty of runners rave about them I’ve never actually tried one myself because I tend to do my long runs on a Saturday, but this weekend I had a two hour splits workshop scheduled for the afternoon so I thought that the Parkrun would be a great way to get in a short fast run.

I was a bit wary of my local Parkrun, a couple of people who have been to it have said that it is slightly cliquey, but I went ahead because although it would be nice to make some local running friends, at the end of the day I run for myself. I needn’t have worried though, I turned up quite nervous so headed to a group of people which included a volunteer who explained the course to me and how it all worked. Everyone was very friendly and introduced themselves.

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I wish I took better race photos…

The course itself was 3 and a bit laps of a playing field which was quite muddy but not enough to be slippery. One side has a slight elevation to it that was fine on the first lap but I was cursing it by the third lap, despite the fact that it was only a very small incline….

Walthamstow is one of the smaller Parkruns, only seeing around 60 people a week so once everyone was settled into their pace there was plenty of room for everyone and it didn’t feel crowded at all.

Another one of my concerns is that you sometimes hear of runners who are aiming for their personal best and often don’t have any courtesy to other runners, luckily this wasn’t the case for this Parkrun at all. Sure I got lapped by a couple of the super fast runners, but there was plenty of room and they made sure to give everyone a wide birth when overtaking.

I am a slow runner but thought to myself that this is only a 5k so I should push myself. On my second lap one of the volunteers informed me if I kept up the pace I was at then I would be looking at finishing around 31 minutes, I found this very encouraging because my best time was 32 minutes 50 seconds, so despite the burning in my chest I pushed on.

I actually ended up finishing with a time of 30 minutes 38 seconds which I am ecstatic about! One of my new fitness goals is to complete a 5k in less than 30 minutes and I thought I was a long way off but I guess not!

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Generally I prefer running alone, but I really liked fitting in some speed work for a change, and the encouragement from the other runners, volunteers and even just people using the park was really motivating and lovely.

I think Parkruns are a fantastic idea. The Walthamstow one I went to was very welcoming and there was a few walkers too. They are great for serious runners looking to do a bit of speed work, the casual runner, the beginners or even just the people who would like to have a sociable saturday morning walk. Did I mention they are free too? Fantastic.

I’m not going to lie though, I’m not a huge fan of the whole 5k race thing. It takes me a good 20 minutes to get into my runs and I was running at a pace I’m not used to which I found quite challenging, I felt like I was going to keel over and die at the end of it which isn’t a feeling I’ve had after running in a very long time. You know what they say they, no pain no gain and hopefully this will help me with my half marathon training.

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