LETS DO A PARKRUN!

Diana Fountain at Bushy Park (London Borough of Richmond upon Thames) where the story of Parkrun began in 2004 (Image: Sumi Sarma)

Diana Fountain at Bushy Park (London Borough of Richmond upon Thames) where the story of Parkrun began in 2004 (Image: Sumi Sarma)

STORY

Bushy Park- thats where it all began in 2004. Paul Sinton-Hewitt started his first time trial at Busy Park to recover from an injured leg and today Parkrun has over 5 mn registered runners.

The ultimate aim is to be outdoors, get a sense of fresh air, a bit of cardio but most of all, create camaraderie and a happy fulfilled state of mind. There are nearly 400,000 of us who volunteer around the world and for me personally, this is a show of gratitude to a sport and now, a way of life, that taught me to take up life’s challenges, keeping my chin up while maintaining a positive and motivated frame of mind. One thing that you should know is that you are not alone in this journey. Most of us who do it, are doing it for a reason whether they are on the struggle to become fit, lose weight, get cardio, gain friends, get out of the usual monotonous rut or basically…..to get out and have a good time!

Parkrun Woking (second week of January 2019, one of the few rare times Parkrun had to be cancelled as the grounds were just too slippery. But yes it does go on irrespective! (Image: Sumi Sarma)

Parkrun Woking (second week of January 2019, one of the few rare times Parkrun had to be cancelled as the grounds were just too slippery. But yes it does go on irrespective! (Image: Sumi Sarma)

OPPORTUNITIES - WHAT DO YOU GAIN

Opportunities apart from exercise, are plenty through this adventure. There are opportunities to practice mindfulness, opportunities to create social networks, opportunities to gain support and acceptance, opportunities to feel a sense of achievement, the adrenalin and finally, the sweat, no one talks of sweat…sweat has a unique way to make us feel invigorated! So do not for once think this is not meant for you.

HOW DO YOU PARKRUN?

Parkrun is not a race. You do it for yourself and if you feel you have achieved something positive at the end of it, that is solely going to be yours to claim. Sometimes it may take a few times to get there, but you will get there. Some days you just don’t feel like pushing yourself, some days you just don’t have it in you. Its alright - those are the days when you take it slow and easy -a brisk walk or a slow jog. Its only once a week on Saturday so hopefully not something that you are being pushed into.

Each course is different - some are flat, some hilly, some tarmac, some grassy, some dirt track with lake views and some with multiple laps in built up districts, but all aim for a 5km. Each teaches you a new way of experiencing and adjusting yourself to different circumstances, isn’t that how life is too?

Volunteers at Parkrun start gathering and getting the park ready as early as 8 am itself! There is a lot to get done to make this run fun, organised and seamless (Image: Sumi Sarma)

Volunteers at Parkrun start gathering and getting the park ready as early as 8 am itself! There is a lot to get done to make this run fun, organised and seamless (Image: Sumi Sarma)


FIRST TIMERS AND VISITORS BRIEFING

Holding the placard for briefing new runners and visitors. Communication breaks down barriers! (Image: Sumi Sarma)

Holding the placard for briefing new runners and visitors. Communication breaks down barriers! (Image: Sumi Sarma)

I didn’t run today but what I did, was to give in time for Parkrun. For Parkrun has been therapeutic for me to get back into running after I had a nasty ski accident two years ago.

Conducting First Timers and Visitor’s briefing is actually very interesting. I can relate to it because I was also a first time runner at Parkrun and was nervous about what people expected out of me until I realised it was my own expectation that I was scared of!!

First time and visitor briefing is a lovely way to meet new participants, from outside your local community who are here to experience a new location, a new track and new people. It is not just a great way to welcome runners and get them involved into the community but also to communicate with them on the ethos of Parkrun and specifics of that particular location - the route layout, topography, what to expect and how to follow on with completion of the circuit, along with few etiquettes to keep in mind while in a group run. Ofcourse, a coffee with volunteers at the end is a great way to socialise and wind up the event!

So today I met runners from various countries - Ireland and as far as Columbia and from different parts of England ; Stevenage, Selby and even a mix of coy to cheerful 7 to 10 year old runners competing with their parents! How cool is that!


YOU ARE BORN TO RUN!

There is no qualification to be a runner. We are all BORN TO RUN (Christopher McDougal’s lovely book is a must to read) and so by default you are a runner. You finish up and come home feeling ready to conquer the rest of the day. So as spring arrives, knocking on your door, get your running shoes out, ready to grab some muck and dirt! Those who abide loyally to your Fitbits and Apple watches, give your watches a chance to buzz in excitement with the steps you accumulate. Head out every Saturday or as many Saturdays as you can. Parkrun starts 9 am sharp! Be it rain, snow or sun, the volunteers will be there to guide you and cheer for you!! For more on venues close to you, check on the website below.


(Sumi Sarma is a volunteer and heath supporter/advocate for Parkrun)