News - 6th January 2021

The gift of helping others


parkrun Ireland Country Manager Matt Shields tells us how your #parkrunresolution can be the gift of helping others.


I began running at 11 years old when I went to secondary school. Being small in height, and lacking the ball handling skills for other school sports it was great to find an activity in which I could hold my own. I worked hard and, as I got older, my running improved.


Over the years, I achieved various goals and represented my school, running club and country teams. At the time this gave me a lot of pleasure. I used to think that everyone had the option to run.


This changed when, in 2010, I first got involved in parkrun. I learned that there were barriers that I never knew about or understood. Barriers that prevented many people from being active.


I got involved in helping people overcome those hurdles through parkrun, and programmes like Couch to 5k. Helping people achieve something they never believed possible gave me greater pleasure than earlier goals linked to my own performance.


In January and February, as part of the #parkrunresolution, we would love existing parkrunners to virtually support those less active. You can support family members, neighbours, friends or work colleagues to take their first steps. 

For now this means on their own, for most, due to COVID19. It could also include other lifestyle changes such as sleep, nutrition, or something else entirely.

Of course, we know through parkrun that sharing the journey can make it even more special. But this isn’t possible at present. Instead, you could form a small online group to motivate one another to exercise regularly on their own and to keep in contact virtually.


Depending on the fitness level and ability of each person, they could choose to walk, jog, or run. You may decide to build up over eight weeks to complete a 5k run each on an individual basis.


The benefits, both mentally and physically, will be considerable, but it doesn’t end there. If you support others, you will reap the rewards of giving and helping others fulfil their parkrun resolutions.


That is something that will stay with you forever.


Matt Shields


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