Parkrun

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Festive parkrun

Festive parkrun

Regular readers will know that I am fairly new to parkrun - although my wife Nikki has been a regular park runner for years. It all started for me in the summer - I had talked myself into the Great South Run and knew I needed to make sure I got out more - parkrun was the sort of commitment I was looking for.

My first parkrun was in Naas (near Dublin, Ireland) in August - Nikki and I were there for the weekend and it seemed like as good a place as any to get started! We turned up there early - Irish parkrun starts later - and the atmosphere was great! We were treated like royalty!! Naas parkrun is a lovely parkrun - it’s smallish (there were 54 runners when Nikki and I did it) but we would recommend… Anyway, the long and the short of it is that I was hooked…

Since then, I have run another 18 and volunteered once. My home parkrun is Fareham, which is a lovely course - out and back along the bank of the creek, but as Nikki is something of a parkrun uber tourist we tend to travel a bit… I’ve done Eastleigh, Southsea, Portsmouth Lakeside, Brockwell Park Herne Hill, Netley Abbey and most recently Queen Elizabeth Country Park.

Which brings me on to the festive element. This year was a bumper year for park runners - the ONLY time that parkrun is allowed on any other day than a Saturday is Christmas Day and New Years Day - AND the only time you can run at anything other than 9am is New Years Day… So, New Years Day is the ONLY day it is possible to “double up!” 

We kicked off the festive period with Christmas Eve at Portsmouth Lakeside parkrun (nice and flat - mainly pathed) - it was cold that morning, but a great turnout. Then we went for Christmas Day - I decided that I would take a load of gloves and hand them out to all the Volunteers (who are always magnificent and ANY parkrun) plus any youngsters who turned up (there were quite a few which surprised me!!) Nikki and I met a friend, Ros, and ran in duly festive hats!! 2 parkruns / 2 days!!

Next up, after a fantastic Christmas and a few runs in between, we got to another bumper parkrun weekend! We started off in Southsea on New Years Eve. Southsea is one of my favourite parkruns - it's always busy, and it's flat - New Years Eve was even busier than usual, but the atmosphere was great! Afterward it was onto the festivities of New Years Eve and an alarm call for New Years Day (much to the amusement of non runners!!). Our plan was to do Fareham at 9am as it is the closest and then onto Queen Elizabeth Country Park. We met with some friends who did both with us (Dean and Debbie) and Ros also made the QECP parkrun. All I have to say about this is that if there is a WORSE course as the second in a day I'd be surprised! QE is HILLY and MUDDY (very muddy!!) so it was a real challenge - but a lot of fun!!

So there you have it - 5 parkruns done in 8 days! 

I really can't recommend parkrun enough to anyone who's yet to experience it - there is no pressure, all standards are catered for, and it is free forever! Find your local one here www.parkrun.com

Guest Blogger

Nikki's Guest Blog - Marathon Training

Eat, Sleep, Run, Repeat (AKA Marathon Training!)

So, there are moments when running seems to take over more than usual of my life! I am currently in week 12 of a 16 week training plan that takes me to the Paris Marathon on 3rd April. I love marathon running and I love a plan and lists, lots of lists, but, at the moment THE PLAN is dominating all of my lists and am I frankly feeling a bit like ok now jog on and let’s get this marathon done.  Sadly, it is not close enough for me to taper and these weeks are all about fine tuning and completing the last of the long runs.  So THE PLAN must be followed and things like visiting friends, going out, doing household chores (not worried too much by this one) and looking after my family kind of have to slot in. I ran my long run last week on a Thursday afternoon, which was strange. I have become quite good at running at different times of the day and varying the speeds I do these, this helps my body not get used to one time of day and one speed.  On marathon day anything can happen and speeds can vary depending on how many runners are around you, if you are taking on fuel, or have had to visit one of the “toilets” enroute, finger’s crossed that won’t happen.  So if you have run at different speeds it should be easy to adapt.

The final instructions for the Paris Marathon were also emailed today.  This is a pretty impressive 5 page document all about the last long run and tapering and what to expect.  It has great quotes in there too – “you are on the cusp of a formidable achievement.” “Don’t be shy, but don’t be reckless either.” 

With the long run planned, I am running to a local parkrun with a friend, running that and then running back.  I like breaking up the run into sections and also enjoy the company on the runs.  The fuel is ready, kit etc ready, hopefully the snow will not fall.  That left just the “steady one hour” to do and I found every excuse not to go out before pulling on my very bright run tights and heading out in between downpours.  I managed to find some sunshine and hit the local trails and in that little hour I reminded myself why I love to run and that having a plan is a good thing and that it will eventually be over and I will miss THE PLAN! Being outside, in the woods and having them pretty much to yourself is amazing, you get to see tiny little birds flying, groups of tadpoles in the tiny streams and even the odd deer or two. I came back with a smile on my face and mud on my shoes.  Now I guess I ought to tackle some of those household chores………

Running, Guest Blogger

New Day, New Year and a bonus Parkrun!

New Years Day Parkrun at Queen Elizabeth Country Park, Horndean, Hants (QE)

By guest blogger, Nikki Yeo @nikkiyeo

A New Years Day Parkrun is always a little bit special and today's was no exception. The anticipation of a whole New Year, a new slate, to move forward and set some goals.
The rain held off, a nice surprise for Queen Elizabeth Country Park (QE), and, for the first time in a long time it actually felt chilly enough for my running gloves (eGloves of course!) as I arrived at QE. No double runs for me this year, just my favourite instead! The car park started to fill with eager runners having travelled from various other Parkruns in the area, ours started at 10:30, giving people the chance to get a 9am one in beforehand.
The warm up proved that the course was nice and slippery underfoot, eg muddy!! What a great way to start the running year with fellow parkrunners, all welcoming each other with beaming smiles and hugs and wishes for a Happy New Year. QE has a family feel, I always feel welcome here and have made some great friends through Parkrun over the years. Today, the crowds kept growing, the Parkrun signpost was heaving with coats and bags, the carpark was full, it soon became clear that the total amount of runners could be an all time high, which it was!
First Timers were given their briefing by James Leighton, I think there were 54 runners new to QE, which is amazing. A certain Mr Parkrun himself and his good lady wife were amongst these First Timers, Paul Sinton-Hewitt, without whom this community just would not exist, so thank you Paul!
Run Director Kiernan Easton gave his briefing, mentioning the milestone parkruns that were being run today, two 50ths and one 100th, well done all. Kiernan also publicly thanked his core team for all of their work throughout the year.  From a Parkrunner, thank you to you all too for putting on the very special Parkrun that we all love.
Briefing given, we headed up the hill to the start, chattering still happening, and suddenly we were off. The line of runners was four or five across and a continual line for the initial climb, it was a pretty amazing thing to be in amongst all these like minded people spending the first morning of a new year doing something they love. The first descent was full of slipping and sliding and squealing as we tried not to fall over or into one another. Runners still in big groups at this point, it is the second hill that spreads us out a bit. It felt like hard work today, maybe the late night, the festive food that has been consumed, who knows! The country park really helps on this section, it is always stunning whatever the weather.
The marshals were all great, encouraging us and when I reached Duncan at the top I knew the hard work was over and it was time to try a bit of flying down the hill. The bottom track was actually really peaceful for a bit, birds singing, dogs barking and not a drop of rain in sight.
As I tackled the last muddy incline bit, I chatted to another runner about the mud and how it was tricky to navigate in parts, we weren't really sure where to put our feet! The finish funnel came into view and the line of people with beaming smiles and congratulating each other on a good run was huge. Barcode scanned and I couldn't resist a little wander over to Mr Parkrun who was stood watching the runners coming in. All the runners basically running because of him, that's pretty amazing, what an achievement.  We chatted about the mud and the net downhill course of QE.
Headed to the cafe for the coffee, cake and chat which is an essential part of the Parkrun. The staff in the cafe were fantastic and it all moved quickly.

New Years Day and New Years Resolutions, well my motto, if you like is : Live, laugh, give, love, smile and be happy, all which occurred at Parkrun, as always, thank you.

Happy New Year and I really hope that the first time runners to QE fell in love with it!

Nikki x

Editors Note: Parkrun organise free, weekly, 5km timed runs around the world. They are open to everyone, free, and are safe and easy to take part in. Find your nearest Parkrun and more details here: www.parkrun.org.uk