For the first time for a long time I didn’t have any clients this Saturday as I was going to watch the rugby which was subsequently cancelled because of the typhoon. This meant I was free for once at 9am Saturday morning and thus was able to participate in a park run.

I have been a huge fan of Park Run ever since I first heard about them and encouraged many a client to partake. If you do not know them, park runs are free 5km races that happen every Saturday morning across the country. They have a real friendly atmosphere and designed for the fun runner to enjoy and track their times.

For me it was the first time I have run 5km in about 8 years I reckon, I did a few 3km’s about 5 years ago but my fitness work would come from playing 5 A Side football once a week over the last year.

The run starts at 9am, probably 9.07 it actually kicks off. After standing around listening to a little speech by the organisers you are asked to stand in the rough time group you think you will finish the race in, e.g. 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30 mins etc. This just allows correct pacing at the beginning. As I hadn’t run for so long I was going to start out slow and build. I started in the 28 minute group. There were 500 runners in this Clapham park run so it is only about 100 metres from the first to last runner in the line up. The run was great, I did the first km very slowly then increased the pace each km thereafter. As a result it was fun overtaking people for most of the race as I got into rhythm.

My time for the 5km was 24.20, I did the first half (Clapham is a 2 lap race and they call out the split time after the first lap) in 26.10 pace and the second half in 22.30 pace. The final km must have been 21 minute pace or below so overall I am happy considering I hadn’t run for so long. Afterwards you get your placings, I was 156th out of 485 and 8th in my age category. 

Park runs are about inclusion, the majority of people take around 30-35 minutes to do it. A few runners took just under an hour in my one on Saturday. It is about participation not performance.

How To Do A Park Run

To get involved with this then simply –

– Go To The Website Park Run and search the nearest one to you.

– Register on the website here>> 

– Print Out And Take Your Bar Code to the run. (It has to be printed out for some reason).

– Turn up on the day at about 8.58, try not to bring too much stuff as it is not the best for leaving things albeit you can.

– Stand around and wait for the lineup. Look at the start line grouping times and pick the appropriate one. If unsure just go towards the back and after your first one you will know what rough zone you are in.

– Run the race and enjoy it.

– At the end you are given a chip. Take this chip and show it and your printed bar code to any of the race marshals. They will scan it.

– A few hours later you will be emailed your results.

With your benchmark time look to run them regularly and use them to monitor your progress from your training plan. If you happen to not print your bar code or lose it then remember your rough time as they call it out at the end.

Photo – Just after running on Saturday and a map of all the UK park runs. They are in countries all over the world as well.

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