As I have mentioned on a previous post, I have found the whole experience of Park Run absolutely brilliant. They have been well run, with friendly supportive volunteers and a lovely vibe amongst runners before, during and after the race (the treats that were made by runners was a nice and welcome surprise at the end).
I was therefore really surprised and disappointed when I heard on the news about the ridiculous intention of the local council to charge for the use of the park. This is CRAZY! When we live in a society of high obesity and inactivity levels which ultimately puts a strain onto the NHS and therefore government funding, why are we trying to discourage any organisation that is trying to promote a healthier and more active lifestyle. The mix of people you get visiting a park run on a Saturday morning each week is a fantastically varied bunch that made me feel proud to be part of it and proud of all those giving it a go – be it their first park run or their hundredth!
Unfortunately the council won and now the Park Run has to move which means a number of local people will have to find alternative solutions or travel further to find another Park Run. This will probably mean more people driving to the new location, or driving further, which means more people on the road, which means more congestion and air pollution. That is if people even decide it is worth committing to something which might then be dropped because a council demands a fee! I understand the argument that the council requires funds for the upkeep of the park, but they would have to pay for that regardless of who is using it and surely the idea of a park is that people ACTUALLY USE IT!
Hopefully everyone sticks to supporting Park Runs and if this story has brought anything good out of it, let it be that more people are now aware of Park Run and the good and positivity it spreads.
I first visited Little Stoke Park Run when my better half decided she wanted to go along. So, I went to support and then as soon as they said go I continued to support her by immediately leaving her at the start line as I got swept along with the crowds and trying to find my rhythm. I think she preferred this as she always says she doesn’t like me running with her and I was instantly keen to go and do my own race and try and find something to get out of this run.
I was carrying a post-London Marathon niggle so it was more of a ‘lets see what happens’ kind of a morning. I enjoyed it and thought the whole idea of Park Run was absolutely brilliant and made me wish I had got involved sooner. The second time I went along, I went solo and tried to get a decent time but didn’t quite achieve as good a time as hoped.
I find the 5K distance a really strange one, but similar to 10K I suppose. You are basically pushing yourself as hard as possible but only to a point where you know you only have to maintain it for a relatively short amount of time. So when I find myself in that uncomfortable zone I have to just remind myself that if I cant stay there then the race will end quicker. I have never considered training for this event and use it as a chance to try and go above what my marathon pace would ideally be.
It was on my third Park Run experience that I earned my current 5K PB in January this year. I was at the beginning of my more specific marathon training starting and had been building up slowly beforehand so I wanted to lay a marker and thought this would be ideal. I was aiming for anywhere around the 21 minute mark as this would have been close to my target marathon time.
I started off steady and found my rhythm to start with. Then I did my classic thing of finding someone who was going at close to my pace and tagging on to them. They got me through most before they stepped up their speed earlier then I wanted as I was pushing on my limit of acceptable discomfort. Then a younger lad was hovering near me and came past me on the last lap. He didn’t pull away from me so he was my next target. Yes, I know Park Run is an enjoyable social experience, but I have to find those targets and people to chase to keep me pushing. As we got to the home straight I started to gain on him and ended up going alongside him into the finish pen.
I was really chuffed with the time as it beat my previous by a decent amount. I look forward to going back every few months to test myself and see where I am at, although I may be looking elsewhere now.
5K PB – Little Stoke Park Run – 21:30