Gillian Roden was convinced by friends to sign up for a couch to 5k programme.
After graduating the programme at Waterworks parkrun, she fell in love with the parkrun community and now thinks it’s the best way to start any weekend.
I signed up for Jog Belfast at the Girls Model School in April 2016. To be honest, I had zero interest in running (or any exercise really) but a few friends who had already signed up convinced me to give it a go. I was trying to get fitter, and I thought at least it could help with that so I went along.
I honestly thought I would hate it and give up after a few weeks but I actually really enjoyed it (it helped that the course started off very slowly, walk a minute, run a minute etc) and the coaches were fantastic and so encouraging.
When we graduated in June at the Waterworks parkrun it was my first parkrun and I loved it, everyone was so friendly and I recognised a few people from the local area. My love of parkrun continued and I have been going now for almost four and a half years. I have also volunteered quite a few times and love cheering the other parkrunners on. I have done a few parkruns in other locations (the most memorable being San Francisco) and it’s great to be able to find one when on holiday but I’ll always come back to the Waterworks.
There is such a sense of community and a real mix of people and abilities – I’ll never be a fast runner but at parkrun it doesn’t matter.
Jog Belfast and parkrun definitely changed my life, both physically and mentally, and I have met so many new people. I would have completed my 100th parkrun by now if it hadn’t been stopped due to COVID-19 and I look forward to doing it in the future.
It really is the best way to start the weekend – a walk, a jog, or a run, a chat, and a coffee with friends.
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