What fantastic British institutions: parkrun (or is that parkfun?) and the National Health Service (NHS). So how fitting that parkrun has teamed up with the NHS to celebrate 70 years of the health service?
parkrun has certainly helped with my return to fitness and without our fantastic NHS and dedicated staff, I may not be here to enjoy the fun. Let me explain…
My parkrun journey started five weeks after my son arrived whilst still very anaemic following a blood transfusion. I had also become rather inactive during pregnancy as I just worked, ate and tried to sleep, so with these points in mind I was rather nervous about being too slow. However, I really didn’t need to worry.
My first parkrun was conducted with caution and I completed it at a fast walking pace whilst pushing my son in his pram, although I felt as though I’d run a marathon. This was probably the hardest ‘run’ I have completed to date. The encouragement from volunteers was lovely; I couldn’t believe how supportive everyone including fellow parkrunners and spectators were. What an amazing atmosphere! This atmosphere has persisted at every parkrun I have attended, regardless of location, and I have now become hooked! This has surprised me as I find running alone tedious and I had only intended to parkrun to build up my fitness in time for the tennis season.
Now my son is nine months old and I’ve completed 36 parkruns, around 50% supported by my son in his pram (often whilst asleep) and the other half without an under 11 at arm’s length! My husband also runs and we share the pushing (if only that could have happened nine months earlier!).
parkrun is going from strength to strength as evidenced by the increasing numbers at these events and lots of smiling faces each week. It is wonderful to see that parkrun caters for all abilities and is for all ages and generations. There is a woman in her nineties who takes part in Southport some weeks.
parkrun is like a multi-tool with many arms, it provides a friendly and supportive environment to those who want to build a healthier lifestyle or return to fitness, it enables those who want to to track their own progress, it is family friendly, it provides a platform for socialising and it can be competitive for a few serious runners and those training for other running events without impacting on those who have different goals.
My local parkrun in Southport is also celebrating its second birthday on 9 June and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all parkrun volunteers in Southport and in all other locations (at several of which I have had the privilege of being a ‘parkrun tourist’ and for which perhaps a Collins Michelin i-SPY book should be created?!). I would also like to thank the NHS, particularly the staff who recently took good care of me before, during and after a difficult birth at Southport and Ormskirk District General Hospitals.
We each have our own individual stories to tell about how we first got involved in parkrun and the impact that it has had on our lives. We all have different perceptions of what parkrun is, and what it means to us. However, there are two aspects of parkrun that are universally relevant: The…
Last year we published the results of an independent survey which highlighted the wide ranging health and wellbeing benefits of participating in parkrun, and not just from walking and running. The findings, from over 60,000 respondents, found that volunteering gives people the biggest bang for health and wellbeing buck. This snapshot survey was part…