Whether you are new to parkrun, or you’ve been parkrunning for years, it’s only natural from time-to-time to find yourself in a bit of a parkrunning slump.
Are you struggling for motivation? Have your times plateaued? Tempted by the snooze button? Looking for some inspiration?
Here are 10 ways you can rediscover your parkrun mojo!
There’s no better way to be inspired than plonking yourself on a corner of your local course and cheering on your fellow parkrunners as they go by. You can cheer, shout, clap, ring a bell, or best of all… dish out some good old fashioned high fives!
Witness with your own eyes the wide spectrum and diversity of parkrunners that turn out week after week, from the speedsters whizzing by in a blur, to those only just starting out on their journeys to a more active lifestyle, plus everyone walking, jogging and running in between.
We guarantee your stint as a Marshal will have you bursting with pride and emotion, and you’ll race home to get your kit and trainers ready for next week!
2. Bring a friend
We all know that one person who has stubbornly resisted all of your previous attempts to convince them to come along to parkrun with you. But this week is the week!
Do whatever you have to do – offer them a lift, print and laminate their barcode, bribe them with a coffee, or even offer to do their chores for the rest of the year!
The smugness you will feel afterwards when you hear them say the words: “actually that wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be” will soon have you both looking forward to next week.
3. Run naked
Wait!!! No, not *that* kind of naked – we mean ditch the devices and run free from technology. GPS watches and tracking apps are brilliant ways to help your pacing and recording your progress, but they can also cause a lot of stress when your parkrun isn’t going to plan as you watch agonisingly as the seconds tick by!
So, if you find your watch adds to the pressure of finishing in a certain time or hitting that new PB, run naked and leave it at home. That way you will run based on how you feel, not on what the digits are telling you, and wait for the surprise as your results email drops into your inbox!
And for those for whom the thought of ditching the watch and all those juicy stats and splits is unthinkable, you could always try sticking some tape over the screen to avoid the temptation of looking at it until afterwards.
After weeks and weeks of running your home parkrun, you probably know and recognise all the people who usually finish around the same time as you and how long each lap should take if you are going to hit your target.
Sometimes it’s those things can add to you putting more pressure on yourself, so try some parkrun tourism. Go and try another event and a completely different parkrun experience in a forest, at the seaside, or a muddy off-road course, or even one from the “undulating” category.
Meeting new people, experiencing new surroundings and different scenery can all take off the pressure and get the juices flowing – all with the same warm friendly parkrun welcome and coffee afterwards!
5. Set a non-time goal
Setting yourself goals that are based solely on time means your happiness is dictated only by your watch and the outcome of your parkrun time. Instead, forget about PBs and come up with challenges or targets that don’t involve those numbers on the stopwatch.
That could be reaching your parkrun Alphabet (that’s completing a parkrun beginning with letters A-Z), working your way to your volunteer 25 milestone t-shirt, or even aiming each week to speak to someone you’ve never spoken to before.
6. Arrange to be a pacer
Signing yourself up to pace your fellow parkrunners is a brilliant way to help others reach their goals, whilst still giving your own parkrun a focus and purpose.
In your role as pacer, you’ll have the hopes and dreams of those chasing sub 20, 30, 40 or 50 in your hands, or should we say feet.
Setting the speed, guiding them around the course, and providing some encouragement or motivational words in the final few metres will leave you with an immense sense of satisfaction and pride as you help someone reach their parkrun holy grail!
7. Make it social
“But parkrun is always a social event” we hear you say – yes you’re right, but when you find your parkrun motivation slipping, a great way to get yourself out of bed and into your local park is having a social engagement lined up.
You could arrange to meet at parkrun and have breakfast with friends afterwards, or to grab a coffee with someone you haven’t seen for a while, or bring your family down (if they aren’t already parkrunners!) to spend the morning in the park.
Having the social commitment in the diary, and the excitement of seeing friends and family will have you bouncing your way to the finish line.
8. Treat yourself
At parkrun you can wear whatever you want. You can wear jeans and a t-shirt, shorts and a hoody, or even come along dressed as a dinosaur!
But, most of us will have experienced the glow from treating yourself to something shiny and new to wear, and often that can get you out the door as you want to give it a test run!
That could be a new parkrun wristband or barcode card to ensure you never forget your barcode again, or choose from a range of t-shirts, base layers and running kit from our friends at CONTRA, with every single penny of profit helping keep parkrun free, forever, for everyone.
9. Become the Tail Walker
The Tail Walker role involves walking the course at the back of the field, offering support and encouragement to those around you, whilst also ensuring everyone is safe.
In your role as Tail Walker, you will also get the chance to meet and chat to parkrunners you previously may not have spoken to, whilst giving you the opportunity to see your parkrun course from a different point of view.
And on top of that, you will also earn both a run credit and a volunteer credit, taking you closer to your next milestones!
10. Stop and smell the roses!
In the words of Ferris Bueller: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
If you’ve tried all of these things, but still find yourself in a parkrun slump, the most important thing to reflect on is that you are up on a Saturday morning, outside amongst nature and the great outdoors, being physically active, socialising and interacting with others, and reaping all the physical and mental health benefits that go with it.
And remember, the beauty of parkrun is… there’s always next week!
parkrun Founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt CBE is honoured with the Royal Society of the Arts’ prestigious Albert Medal. Awarded each year for innovation in the fields of creativity, commerce and social improvement, Paul received the incredible accolade for building a global participation movement. Presenting the award, RSA Chief Executive Matthew Taylor praised Paul and…
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