One of the most exciting things about Friday, is that it’s the day before parkrun. I’m a big fan of parkrun, and try to get to one most weekends. Over the years I’ve been doing it, I’ve discovered more and more great things about it, and Saturdays definitely wouldn’t be the same without it.
Here are my tips for getting the most out of your parkrun experience.
Be a tourist – I love trying new parkruns, whether it’s going to a launch event, going to different places in my city, or having a holiday. There are so many parkruns to choose from, especially when you live in a big city, and most of them have something unique about them. It’s definitely worth trying new ones.
Bring your family – parkrun is for everyone! It’s a great way to get people involved in running, walking, spending time outdoors or even just spectating. If you’re the only runner in your family, parkrun is a great way to include others in what you are doing. You can push a pram, the kids can walk/run and build up their distance, or play in the park while you run. When we go to the parkrun closest to my parents house, I will often ask them to bring my dog down, meaning I get to run and have cuddles with my furball at the same time.
Use it any way that suits you – The consistent nature of parkrun, it’s on every week, means you can use it in different ways to fit into your training schedule. Sometimes I will go with the plan to run really hard, others I will use it as part of a longer run, sometimes it’s a way to turn my legs over the day before a race. It’s a great way to get back into a running routine if you have had a break. Tomorrow I plan to use it as a warm up for a race in the afternoon.
Self seed – If your parkrun has a small start area, make sure you seed yourself based on the time you plan to run. It can be a bit frustrating when you lose time waiting to start running, but it’s a small amount compared to how you might be slowed down in a big race. It’s more important to make sure everyone is safe, including other parkrunners and general park users, and one important way to do that is to start around people who are similar pace to you.
Give/get some high fives – If your parkrun is an out and back course or does multiple loops where you pass other runners or the volunteers, make sure you get some high fives. Encouraging other runners along is part of what makes the atmosphere at parkrun so welcoming and friendly, and high fives are a great way to add a bit of fun to the morning and engage the kids. It’s also a statistical fact that volunteers love high fives on chilly mornings!
Smile at the cyclists/walkers – Most parkruns share the path with other users. Some events that have been running for a long time are well known to other people who use the path, and they may choose to avoid the area for an hour or so. But others might have a lot of other people around that are also looking for an enjoyable Saturday morning. It’s easy to keep everyone happy by being nice to the other park users (though you might want to be wary of the deer at Bushy, kangaroos at Maitland, and dogs just about everywhere).
Go for breakfast – If you have time to hang around afterwards, go to breakfast with the other parkrunners. It’s a great opportunity to chat, analyse your run, and have a coffee or two.
Dress up – Make the most of parkrun birthdays, special events and milestones if there is a dress up event happening. I’ve been to quite a few parkrun dress up events – rainbow theme, green for St Patricks Day, tutus, pyjamas, Christmas, even chefs outfits and a parkrun wedding dress on our wedding day. Dress up events add a bit of extra fun to the morning.
Volunteer – It’s fun! I’ve had some great times volunteering at parkrun, doing it with friends or as part of a group when my whole club volunteers, wearing tutus, pyjamas or other costumes, pacing, cheering and generally having a great time. One of the best things about parkrun is the sense of community around it, volunteering is a great way to get involved, meet new people and be part of something positive.
Don’t forget your barcode – If you want a time, bring your barcode! It’s that simple.
Tell everyone – parkrun is great! Tell your friends, colleagues, family, anyone you can think of to get involved. A few of my work colleagues have recently started going, which means I’ve got more people to talk to about running! #nerd