My Firsts, running

My First: Parkrun

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I’d been meaning to try parkrun for a while. I’d heard such great things, and I’d never actually raced a 5K distance previously. But the way my training plan and workout schedule fell, I was doing intense workouts on Thursdays and Fridays, meaning I was knackered by Saturday mornings and in much need of a lie in. Nonetheless every Saturday I slept in, I felt like I’d missed an opportunity to get a workout in and meet other runners.

JK I know it’s not that early.

I expressed these sentiments one Thursday on Twitter, and thanks to a retweet the guys at ukrunchat, I received a torrent of gentle bullying, motivation and overall endorsement of parkrun, with an undercurrent of Get your shit together, it’s not even that early. So I committed to a parkrun, publicly, on Twitter. No escape. My close friend and fellow runner Rachael was coming to stay that Friday night, so I now had even more accountability. Having done parkruns in the past herself, I knew she would drag me out of bed if needed.

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Panic kicking in

With a no excuses type attitude, the morning start wasn’t really a problem. I was a little cranky at having to run without my Garmin (which had inexplicably broken); and very forgetful, meaning I left my barcode at the flat and had to loop back to go and get it. But still, I made it, and that’s what counts.

On arriving at Hilly Fields I nervously headed over to the group of people in brightly-coloured lycra that I assumed to be parkrunners. Thankfully, I was right. There was very little fuss, apart from the health & safety speech and plenty of clapping and cheering for newbies, volunteers and those celebrating parkrun anniversaries. And then we got to the running bit.

Not having the best of times

Now, this was painful; Hilly Fields was not a misnomer as I had hoped. It was indeed very hilly. Hilly as fuck, in fact. But Rachael had come along and cheered adorably like a proud mother on sports day, which raised my spirits. She also captured some cracking photos of me looking pained, unimpressed and downright murderous as I huffed up hill after hill. As an insight, my internal monologue went along the lines of:

  • Why the fuck am I up this early?
  • And running?
  • Up hills?
  • Shit, I just got passed by a guy with a stroller
  • Have I seriously not covered 5k yet?!
  • Did I get lapped by the guy with the stroller?
  • Shit.
  • Where am I going?
  • What am I doing?!
  • Shit.

Eventually I finished with a time of 24:04. Not too shabby for a first-timer. I caught up with Rachael at the finish, before heading home for breakfast with a feeling of satisfaction that lasted all day. Several runners from the Twittersphere checked in with me, and I was pleased to say that I had in fact done it, as promised. And it wasn’t so bad after all!


What I wish I’d known before my first parkrun

  • There’s really not a lot to it; you don’t have to be particularly fast, or fit.
  • Everyone is really friendly!
  • It’s low key and unceremonious- just a bunch of people who want to tootle round a park at a pace that suits them.
  • Having said that, it’s really hard for me personally to be surrounded by other runners and not race them.
  • You absolutely need your barcode. Almost learnt this one the hard way.
  • The volunteers are absolutely what make it. In fact, by the time you read this, I’ll have completed my first ever stint as a parkrun volunteer (blog post to follow)!

Have you tried parkrun? What’s your advice for a beginner?

Lots of love,


18 thoughts on “My First: Parkrun”

  1. That shit sounds FUN! We don’t have any Parkruns (at least that I know of) on this side of the pond, but we do have quite a bit of trail running available to those who love to run through the woods with wild abandon. And inevitably trip and fall flat on one’s face, but I digress. I love trail running. I also love that you were bullied into doing something outside of your comfort zone. And had fun doing it! Nice and zippy too! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. 24:04 on a hilly course? Dang girl you were hauling!! Nice job!

    I’ve never done a Parkrun – I don’t think we have them around here. I’d totally try one if we did. I’m planning to race a 5K in October and I’m excited about it but also nervous. I haven’t raced a 5K in forever and in my opinion it’s one of the hardest races around – I do much better at long distances. But I’m eager to see how I’ll finish and I know that one of the things I need to work on in my running is pushing myself a little harder in my shorter runs and learning to tolerate discomfort.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha thanks! Sadly I haven’t gotten back to it again since I injured myself, but I weirdly enjoy running hilly routes so I’m very keen! Parkruns are great, I can’t say enough good things about them. I mean, free 5k races EVERY SATURDAY. It’s amazing. And there’s a real sense of community- today I volunteered at one and someone was celebrating their 100th parkrun, meaning there was a little speech before the race, and then homemade bakes at the finish line. So sweet!


  3. this sounds like so much fun! i wish i had some great parks to run around in the morning but sigh just the same neighboorhoods. the only reason i like morning runs is because i have the rest of the day to get my stuff done. good for you to committing to this I know night owls dont love early mornings 🙂


    1. Yeah morning runs are a struggle for me. I mean, not when it’s just an easy one, but doing a timed 5k (essentially a pace run) is something I struggle to drag my ass out of bed for! Running has definitely made me better in the mornings, I finally get that sense of satisfaction when I arrive at the office with a workout under my belt! Not to mention the guilt-free noms…


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