There’s no better way to kickstart your Saturday than heading down to your local Parkrun.
It’s the weekly rendez-vous for runners of all abilities – to be missed under no circumstances, if you are present, correct and have no prior engagements come Parkrun day. Community at its core, Parkrun is like a family gathering for anyone who wants to run (newbies to pros), which many people look forward to all week. For others, it’s the only time they can enjoy a 5k run free from distractions. So in short, Parkrun helps provide hundreds of thousands of people worldwide with the motivation they need to get out the door.
The beauty of Parkrun
The beauty of Parkrun is that it offers all the advantages of a race-like event, without the pressure and competition. Every Parkrun features a start and finish line, a well-marked route, and is timed. But there’s no such thing as “I won a Parkrun” or “I finished 5th at the Parkrun today”. It’s not about competition or ranking. It’s about what you want it to be. You can run hard and go for a Parkrun PB, or enjoy an easy plod and catch up with friends on your way round!
Parkruns are for everyone and here at Run4It, we always advise and encourage people to give it a try.
Whether you’re looking for to set yourself a summer goal, shake up your routine or are trying to persuade a friend or loved one into running, Parkrun is where it’s at and these glowing endorsements from our team should help convince you to give it a go!
I ran my first Parkrun when I was training for a marathon. I was training on my own and Parkrun was a great way to regularly pitch myself against other runners, and take the opportunity to push myself a bit further to keep up with someone who was just ahead of me.
But right now, I enjoy taking part in Parkrun with my kids. They were first introduced to Parkrun through our local Junior Parkrun in Stirling. As they’ve got a bit older, they still enjoy chasing their PB in the Junior Parkrun but were looking for something a bit more challenging to improve their fitness. Plean Parkrun provides plenty of mud to run through for my son, some great cross country practise for my daughter, and an excuse for me to spend some time with my youngest as under 11s have to run with an adult to ensure their safety on the course.
Plean Parkrun takes place in Plean Country Park. It follows a mix
of trail and tarmac paths that takes you on an undulating course through the
park. The route has narrow paths, steep descents, steady climbs and includes
a section where the tree roots and tree stumps are hard to avoid, offering a
great workout in 5km.
Go along to your local Parkrun and see how friendly it is. First timers are welcomed and the course is explained to them before the Parkrun starts, and there are plenty of marshals along the route to keep everyone safe. It doesn’t matter what your pace is, no one is too slow for Parkrun.
If you’re still not sure about running at Parkrun, volunteer to be a marshall. This is also a great way to stay involved when you’re injured and unable to run.
The Parkrun bug came to me after I did a couple in
Manchester (before it started in Aberdeen). I thought it was a wonderful idea
and I was delighted when Aberdeen joined in. I do think it’s a great thing for
people who are just trying to get moving.
I love the Parkrun community as it is for everybody.
You can simply go down at 9.30am on a Saturday morning and just run, take it
really easy or if you feel like a speed session, you can go for it! It’s a
great motivating community.
My absolute favourite is Hazelhead Parkrun as it’s beautiful but I do the Aberdeen Beach Parkrun most weeks! The Hazelhead route is a circuit around the forest.
Cultures thrive when everyone contributes and I think this is Parkrun. It’s run by volunteers! Like anything doing something for first time can be daunting. I think Parkrun is the most comfortable place to be uncomfortable. The volunteers ensure even the slowest runner has a companion. You are never technically last, it suits all runners and being surrounded by like minded folk is only a good thing.
The fact you can pitch up and do any Parkrun around world with your little bar code is pretty spectacular: I also did one in South Africa!
The comradery and relaxed atmosphere of Parkrun means that if you like you can run without the pressure of aiming to finish in a certain time. Although as it is so well set-up you have the knowledge that if you do want to push yourself you have the organisation in place to allow you to check your time against not only the people you have raced at that event, but the whole of the UK as well! The light-hearted atmosphere is also great at times like Christmas, when runners come dressed like Santas.
My local Parkrun is Camperdown Park in Dundee, which is a nice challenging course (undulating) through the grounds of a country park. Perfect for me as I like trail running.
The route is mostly trail and begins with a sweeping
downhill that levels out briefly before sweeping down further to the lowest
point of the route at around the 1.5K mark. You then climb up a really nice
path/trail for around the same distance (although it always feels further!) to
come out onto a tamac road section that passes Camperdown House (historic
building). It then drops back onto trail to the previous level section before
dropping slightly again and then a last climb up to the finish.
Go ahead, give it a go, it’s fun, relaxed and extremely friendly with no pressure and people of all abilities attend on a weekly basis.
Scotland’s first Parkrun (Pollok) was set-up by a
former clubmate of mine and there were a few of us from the club who took part
in some trial events to ‘test the model’. Not knowing then the massive success
Parkrun would become!
I often simply used the Pollok Parkrun as a quicker middle section to my weekly long run, running it how I felt and enjoying pushing the pace with friends. As new events have been established around Glasgow I’ve made my way along to a few of them and enjoyed every one of them for what it offers. And any I time I travel further afield over a weekend I’ll always check where the local Parkrun is… I like the fact that over the years I’ve managed to finish at the head of the field in Scottish, English, Irish and Welsh Parkruns!
Now I like going to Victoria Parkrun in the West End
of Glasgow, a perfect 10 minute warm-up jog from my home! It’s a 3 lap route
with each lap bypassing beautiful flower beds and going around a large pond,
teeming with all sorts of wildlife. It’s pretty flat, with just a wee short
hill on each lap. The massive popularity of this particular Parkrun can mean
that the multi-lap nature of the route, which is quite narrow in a couple of
spots, can produce a bit of congestion, particularly if you’re a slightly
quicker runner looking to push the pace a little! But like any Parkrun, as long
as all runners follow the established etiquette, it can be a great experience
whatever your ability.
Parkruns are pressure-free, can be easily fitted into a block of training and can used in whatever way you wish, especially since there are so many varied types of courses to suit your needs.
If you’re looking for a pacy, tempo-like workout you
can choose to do a flatter event, while some of the more undulating routes can
prove to be a great hill/strength session! And whatever event you pick, if the
mood takes you there’s always the option to simply jog round and have a
catch-up with your friends! It’s also worth remembering that most events
encourage runners to have a coffee and some cake in a nearby café, so what’s
not to like?
Quite simply, don’t be intimidated by taking part in a Parkrun for the first time! As events they are friendly and inclusive without exception! As mentioned before, you can run as hard or as easy as you wish, and as a way to kickstart your weekend there’s nothing better than some fresh air and exercise. A Parkrun can make that bacon roll afterwards taste even better or it can hone you into race shape, depending on your approach. And that’s the beauty of it!
Perth Parkrun– Robert, Run4It Bridge of Allan Assistant Shop Manager
I really like the fact you just turn up with your barcode and run. You can take the event as serious or as relaxed as you like. I used to go quite regularly to the Perth Parkrun a few years ago.
It was perfect as the route is very flat, mainly road
surface with a little section on grass. It also has a few tight turns which I
really enjoy. I ran it as a time trial to measure my fitness level. For
instance, I would run it once at the start of my training block and then run it
again a few weeks or month after to see the evolution.
One of the great thing with Parkrun is that you know
it’s always there. You can miss it for weeks if you have family or work
commitment, but you can always go back every Saturday. You can also become a
Parkrun Tourist and decide to travel to different Parkrun in the UK (or abroad)
when you can! That’s an easy way to discover a new location.
Get out there and give it a go. It’s very friendly and sociable and great for beginner runners looking to enjoy their running. It’s also free.
My Parkrun journey started like for a lot of runners: I accompanied a friend who wanted to go. It’s actually my flatmate who was keen to try and wanted somebody to go with.
Now, I go to the Parkrun for different reasons. Some weeks it will be to
really test and improve my speed alongside hundreds of other like-minded
runners. Other weeks it will be just to share a social run with family and
Cramond Parkrun is great for that, as it takes part in a very picturesque part of Edinburgh and on flat tarmac surface. It is an easy out and back route on the Cramond promenade, so you won’t need any navigation skills!
It is very friendly and well organised, you don’t have to be a fast runner and you might even get a sweetie at the end!
Pollock Parkrun is a
really welcoming event that attracts
300-400 runners every week with a good bit of support and lots of encouragement
from other runners. I started going when a friend suggested we go along to get
practice running in a big group before our first race. And that was me hooked!
The Parkrun starts at the burrel collection and consists of two undulating loops of the course through Pollok Country Park. Being Glasgow’s largest park, it is a great escape from the city center. On a nice day, it is always nice to stick around and enjoy the quiet woodlands and gardens.
It’s important to go along with the intention of having a good time rather than a fast time. It is quite a challenging course and it is about being encouraged and encouraging other runners.
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