For the uninitiated, parkrun organises free, timed, weekly 5k runs in parks around the world on Saturday mornings. Yes, that’s right, while you’re still sleeping off Friday, hoards of people are gathering at your local green space to clock a few miles before breakfast. Smug lot. The idea is the informal events let you practice running en masse and competing with others (your results are posted online after the event) but without the pressure or cost of a proper race. The concept was born in London’s Bushy Park in 2004 (with just 13 runners) but caught on quickly and is now a worldwide phenomenon, with over a million participants. (And yes, it is really freaky that this could be going on without you having a clue, I know).
For the doubly uninitiated, Strava is a nifty app, with over a million users, that let’s you track your activity on walks, runs and cycles. And you can clock how well you do on segments (specific stretches) to compare against your previous efforts and other Strava users.
Now the two have come together in sweaty matrimony, so for the first time you can connect your Strava account to your parkrun profile. A Strava badge will appear by your name so that other parkrunners can spot you as a fellow user and connect with you on the Strava community. Plus, you can use the segment function of the app to analyse the specifics of where your parkrun is going wrong… or right….or staying the same. (Damn you plateau).
To mark this momentous occasion, I did my FIRST EVER parkrun yesterday. Yes, yes, as a fitness blogger it really is shameful that I have never done one before. But here’s the thing – my local one starts at 9am. This means getting up at 8am. On a Saturday. When I feel it’s my right to be unconscious. And that’s that really.
But I dragged myself out to see what all the buzz was about, and didn’t I look happy about it?
However, once I got going, I got over my duvet and into the zone. I found the 5k surprisingly hard – partly because I haven’t run for a while (yes, I am meant to be training for a marathon but I have got serious mental block about starting) and partly because my locals seem to be exceptionally fast so trying to keep pace killed me in the first five minutes (I’m looking at you James Hurrell, whoever you are, with your 17.26 finish time). But I managed it in 32.21 which I was happy enough with – and totally justified going for a cooked breakfast afterwards. It was a lovely life-affirming event, seeing all these strangers gather together with a shared goal and all the volunteers who drag themselves out of bed to cheer and time you. So will I go again? Yes, definitely. Frankly, if this guy can do it so can I….
Are you a parkrunner? Did you hook up Strava with your profile this weekend?
VITAL STATS: parkrun.org.uk, @parkrunUK; strava.co.uk, @Strava