When i think back to my first park run I almost shudder at my naivety. My wife had been nagging me to go for ages, she and my son were relatively experienced at Park Runs and i had always secretly mocked them for getting up early on a Saturday morning to go for jog.
So off I went, barcode in hand, freshly wrapped in cling film to meet in the local park with around 200 other “joggers”. Before i got to the start point I had already met 2 old friends and a work colleague. The craic was lively and there was a nice family atmosphere.
The hooter sounded and off everyone went, some with kids, some with dogs and some like me panting like crazy after half a mile. I glanced across the park and the skinny lad in the club vest was already streaking away, i won’t tell you what I cussed under my breath.
First lap done and I could easily have stopped. My heart was pounding out of my chest and legs felt numb. At that point I looked who I was running amongst. A complete mix of people, all shapes, all sizes and it felt good. I suddenly felt part of something collective and I drew strength from it.
I know some readers might think i might sound a bit amateur but I didn’t worry about not being elite because I felt involved and rather enlightened. At the end of the race there was an unspoken camaraderie with those who had run near each other for the last half hour (yes it took me 31 mins to do 5k. I exchanged knowing glances with one or two and said see you next week.
Driving home I felt good, I had achieved something, improved myself and it wasn’t even 10am.
1. Get your gear ready the night before and put your barcode next to your car keys
2. Set your alarm so you have enough time to eat breakfast and go to the loo well before you leave the house. Arrive early enough so you are not dashing to the start line and do a warm up.
3. Ensure you have a reasonable pair of running shoes. Do not spend, there are many bargains to be had.
4. Take a drink to consume on the way home so you are not dehydrated.
5. Smile, chat and understand you are not being judged by others. Stay behind for a cuppa and be sociable. This is what mass participation events are all about.
My suggestion for a first pair of shoes for a park run would be the Scott Palani range. This is a great road shoe. Most park runs are on a road type service and for the price it is impossible to beat.