Parkrun or Race?

Parkrun and me have a kind of love hate relationship, and not only because the race starts at 9am on a Saturday morning…wait did I say ‘race’, sorry I meant ‘run’. This is where the problem comes: don’t get me wrong, the Parkrun community is AMAZING and it’s probably the best running initiative ever, but despite the friendly ‘it’s just a run’ ethos, to me it will always be a race.

If you’ve never heard of Parkrun, it’s basically a 5km run that starts at 9.00am EVERY Saturday in most local communities, and it’s organised completely by volunteers. It’s also a timed event, with the results being published by the end of the day on their website. And that’s not even the best bit- it’s also free of charge.

It’s the timed aspect of it that lures in my competitive side, creating the ‘race’ mind set. Naturally, I always want to run a personal best, so in this respect it’s always a race against the clock, which incorporates the near-impossible challenge of knowing when and where to up the pace…and actually, what pace to even start at!

In addition to this, every runner has the power to search, compare and monitor the times of any runner that has ever decided to give Parkrun a go. I love this. You can check up on your competitors, find out a few obscure statistics, and most importantly, you can see exactly who you ran faster than. It’s honestly one of coolest things to find out that you beat an Olympian or even just a teacher.

Okay so maybe a long retired Olympic title holder, but they’re still an Olympic title holder right?

But then I also hate this. I don’t want to run badly, or just to run at a good steady pace and get a satisfactory time. No; I want to run my fastest, put in my all my efforts, and achieve a time that will be remembered. A remarkable PB to go on my Power of 10 profile (which does include Parkruns by the way), or a first female finish is always on the agenda.

Yes, of course I could just refrain from handing in the all important barcode and show up as the ominous UKNOWN in the results, but then for me it kind of takes away the point of it all if I only post my successes.

So should Parkrun be renamed Parkrace? Probably not. Your time may be an indicator of your fitness, and how you rank against others, but at the end of the day, what’s the point of boasting a supreme Parkrun time when you could have spent sometime winning some actual races? You don’t see Mo Farah flaunting his speedy 15.06.

I will always want to better my time, but after doing 23 Parkruns (a meagre sum compared to many I know) I’m now beginning to learn to enjoy them, rather than use them as a 3.1mile killer time trial. As long as I put in a reasonable amount of effort, and every so often giving it that extra push, I’ll be pleased with whatever time I take away…

…well, anything within 2 minutes of my PB, obviously.

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Yesterday I ran the Tonbridge Parkrun in 18.48 which is a course personal best- and this left me on a high for the rest of the day… which I definitely needed seeing as I had to start revising for end of term exams. I’m currently in the note-writing stage but am having great difficulty with this since all my teachers have given me about 5 different booklets about each topic and trying to combine all of this into one is a bit of a nightmare.

 I felt really strong when running, and although I was alone for virtually all of it, I managed to keep up a constant steady pace. As usual, the support from the volunteers was lovely! Sorry there are no pictures, I was gutted to find out I had forgotten to take my phone halfway through the journey there.

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In other news this week, I made this yin-yang style bowl of porridge- I know I have already posted this on Instagram, but it’s undoubtable the best thing I have ever made so I want to make sure it gains full appreciation!

By Ellen Crombie

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