On a typical Saturday morning in the UK, 14,000 first-timers walk, jog or run their very first 5k parkrun, surrounded by other friendly faces in their local park.
With parkrun paused around the world, many are now faced with the new prospect of walking, jogging or running on their own.
We’ve put together four simple tips to help you along the way.
1. Start small and be kind to yourself.
If you’ve never done the 5k distance on your own, start small. Not completing a whole 5k is okay. If you’re just starting out, 5k can feel like a marathon.
Try a shorter distance, slower pace or just set aside some time to be outside if you can. If you can’t get outside, climbing the stairs or doing laps of the front room are all good foundations to build fitness too.
Why not try a brisk walk to your local park, or go for a gentle walk and occasionally try to jog the distance between two lamp posts.
parkrun is a place where everyone can walk, jog or run at their own pace, and going it alone is no different.
Be kind to yourself. The fact that you gave it a go and simply moved your body is what really matters.
2. Make yourself comfortable
You don’t have to buy a lot of expensive gear to be prepared for a walk, jog or run. It’s easy to spend hours browsing kit and getting confused by all the options.
When you’re starting out, anything you are most comfortable in is totally fine. Remember to dress for the weather too.
A playlist of your favourite songs can also help get you motivated. Or why not use the time to tune in to a new podcast, or listen to an audiobook.
Start with a nice slow walk, or gentle jog, to help get your body ready to be more active.
You may be wondering how to plan for a walk, jog or run when you’ve never done one alone before. Why not integrate it into a daily task? If you’re heading down the road to the corner shop, try walking a bit more quickly or jogging some of the distance.
Maybe you’re going for daily walks with family, you could try challenging each other to speed walk to a nearby lamppost. Building activity into your usual routine adds familiarity which can help keep fears at bay.
There are many online route planners available if you’re ready to try something a little further. Walking a route that you plan to jog or run later on in your running journey can help build your confidence.
4. Tell somebody
Just because you’re planning to walk, jog or run on your own doesn’t mean you can’t have the support of family and friends.
Tell someone close to you about your walking or running journey. They’ll be able to cheer you on virtually and maybe even join in, whilst respecting the current social distancing guidelines. It’s great when you’re able to celebrate your achievement with someone.
Everyone else has been on a journey of their own, and maybe your friend will be able to give you some tips too.
Even just moving your body for a minute can have benefits to your health and wellbeing. Although it might be daunting to try something new, remember that everyone was a beginner once.
Focus on taking that first important step and you never know where that path may take you!
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