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The Parkrun Phenomenon – Andy’s Story

10 Jul 2018

Category: Articles, Community News

FPS supports developing better health and fitness habits and encourages all efforts to get healthier.

Andy Ingram, FPS Business Development Manager, shares his experience with Parkrun and the impact it has had on his family and himself.

About time

“I took part in my first Parkrun in October 2016 as part of my resolution to get fit and lose some extra pounds as I approached 50 years old. 25 years of relatively little exercise was taking its toll on me. I was daunted initially, the idea of running around behind seasoned runners and embarrassment as I passed the finish line far behind everyone else did not fill me with joy – but I went along anyway.”

Fit for all

“Arriving in plenty of time for the 9 am start one cold and wet Saturday morning in Stratford-upon-Avon, all my worries disappeared. My fellow runners came in all shapes, sizes, ages, and species.

There were children (with their parents), parents pushing pushchairs, seasoned runners with their club tops, middle-aged men and women like myself, much older people and dogs (all on leads). A real sense of community is the essence of Parkrun. Dedicated to getting people out of bed and off the sofa to do a little bit of exercise each week, the Stratford-upon-Avon Parkrun attracts more than 400 people each week, whatever the weather. Some events around the country regularly have over 1,000 participants.”

Pushing through the pain

“My time wasn’t great that first week (33 minutes). It was the first time I had run in excess of a mile in a long time, and I admit there were a few times I had to walk rather than run (my diet of smoking and drinking were not really what you would call a runner’s diet).

However, I had caught the running bug.

In the run up to Christmas, I managed to attend every Saturday morning. Finally, on Christmas Eve I hit my first milestone – to get around the course without stopping.

18 months on I have now completed 60 Parkruns, reduced my PB (personal best) by 8 minutes, and always get around without stopping. In the process, it has spurred me to improve my diet and change my lifestyle. I have lost over 3 stone (22kg) since my first run in October 2016 and run at least 25k per week. I have also participated in other challenges; 10k’s, triathlons, the Adidas City 1hr Challenge, a few cycling sportives, as well as the Stratford Half Marathon this year.

This fitness thing really can be addictive!”

About more than time

“I still take around 25 minutes to get around the course (the course record at Stratford is 15:51), but I am enjoying it. What Parkrun has shown me is that it is never too late to make the effort to get off the sofa and get active. The whole ethos of a community of runners in all shapes and sizes running together on a Saturday morning is great, and shows that anyone can do it. You don’t need to be able to run fast, far, or be a wannabe Olympian to take part – run, jog or walk – it all counts.

Best of all, the whole family is involved, with my wife, son and daughter regularly joining me on Saturday mornings. I’ve even persuaded them to join me at the Redditch Parkrun on Christmas Day as well as doubling up and doing both the Stratford and Leamington Parkruns on New Year’s Day.”

What is Parkrun?

Parkrun is a free, timed, 5k run that takes place on Saturday mornings nationwide. Founded in 2004, Parkrun – or the Bushy Park Time Trial as it was known at the time – has certainly made its mark. From an excel sheet recording the times of 13 local runners, to a global network of over 3 million runners at 543 sites worldwide, Parkrun has arguably changed the running landscape for good.

Parkrun welcomes runners, and volunteers, of all ages and abilities. To find your local run and register, visit their website.

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