Running is often a solo sport, but it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of good running clubs out there that provide a social element to the sport. Each one offers a different atmosphere and focus – some are very competitive, and some are more focused on the social aspect. If you’re looking for something that can do both, you might like to give parkrun a try.
Parkrun started a few years ago in the UK and has since spread out across the world. Each week across parks and trails, volunteers organise a timed 5K run. They are hosted at the same time each Saturday morning. The run is not a race, but they do offer timings and rankings for those who are interested. You can ‘compete’ against everyone at your own run but also against everyone else running that day, as statistics are published online after each run.
As the runs are scheduled each week at the same track, it’s a great way to develop a social circle of runners from diverse backgrounds. It’s open to anyone interested, from Olympians to beginners. Parents push buggies and people run with their dogs. It’s a fun, community atmosphere, with a welcome coffee at a local cafe usually scheduled afterwards.
It’s worth scheduling a park run into your running routine as a way to relax and enjoy a training session without bringing the pressure. It can be a great way to break up a schedule and keep things lighthearted, while still being able to track progress. While it’s on offer weekly, there’s no commitment – turning up on the day when the mood strikes is as welcome as regular attendance. If you need to travel, there is likely a run scheduled wherever you are headed, so it’s an easy way to meet people in new places as well.
If you’re interested in testing your 5K time and meeting some new people while you do it, park run might be for you. It’s definitely worth checking out at least once. Many parkrun veterans and volunteers started out that way.
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