My name is Steven Sims and I joined the Army when I was 19. So, several years later when my wife suggested we start doing parkrun as a bit of fun, the idea of running and not being paid to do it didn’t sound all that fun to me! At that time we were living in the UK and I had served eight years in the Royal Signals.
My wife was right however, and I became hooked on parkrun. So much so that when we emigrated to Western Australia in 2015 I made sure I relocated close to a parkrun! Bibra Lake parkrun soon became our new family, and running went from a quiet getaway to a chance to catch up and see my running family. Plus, with multiple parkruns all across the Perth suburbs it was a fantastic opportunity to see new sights and catch up with the small handful of people we knew at their home parkruns.
Without parkrun we would not have found the transition to Australian life so easy. We have made a family at our local parkrun. At first you look forward to seeing those people once a week, chatting, running and spending time with each other. But relationships have grown just from meeting people once a week. Your kids become friends with their kids, you do other events together, you go on holidays with each other. You find out your neighbour’s parkrun, it’s a conversation starter.
parkrun also gave me the opportunity to talk to like minded people. It’s incredibly social, during the event itself and especially afterwards. People go for breakfast and coffee every weekend and everyone is invited. So much so that when I have been ‘parkrun touristing’ and did not know anyone there until that morning, the local people were so welcoming they invited us to come along for coffee.
In the early days of parkrun when it was just myself and my wife, we used parkrun as a means to catch up with friends, travel and see new sights. Since having our daughter it is the perfect reason to keep fit and let her have play time with the other kids afterwards. My mother-in-law has always loved walking and she would never have had the confidence to go down and try it on her own, but after having attended with us now makes it a regular thing at her local parkrun.
A typical Saturday for me is to get up early and run to parkrun either alone or with a few friends and then run parkrun as a family or with some of my friends’ older kids to try to pace them to PBs. I then catch up with as many people as possible, go to the park for a play and then to breakfast.
There is a great benefit to your health by doing parkrun weekly. It’s not a race but it’s a good opportunity to push yourself against others and against the clock if you want to. You can adapt it into one of your training runs in many different ways. Add it on to the end of a long run. Use it as your speed session. Break it down into intervals or fartleg. Or just use it as a gentle recovery run/walk. The opportunities are endless.
As an ex-military person there were a few skills I learnt in my career: to run, to be on time, and to socialise. If any of these resonate with you then parkrun is definitely the answer!
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