One essential element of the ambitious marathon training plan I have selected this year has been the Saturday parkrun. The fact that this weekly timed run (that’s run, not race, media folk) has made it on to all good training plans is testament to the fantastic positive impact parkrun has had on the running community.
Parkrun’s continuing popularity has been well documented. It has much to recommend it, but the aspect that seems to inspire the most love is its sense of community. Shame, then, that a misguided parish council in Bristol is considering charging parkrunUK for the use of its paths. A much-lauded community health initiative about to price its participants out of the running? Let us hope not.
What I really love about parkrun is that it’s a happy halfway house between taking the big step of joining a running club, and going it alone. For those who find the idea of being lapped by clubrunners on an athletics track every Tuesday night a powerful disincentive, the fun of running in a happy crowd of weekend warriors, then sitting down for coffee and cake in a park café rather than a clubhouse, is far and away the more attractive option.
For the past few months my Saturdays have not been my own, which meant parkrun could not be part of my training plan. I had club night at the track for speedwork, but how I missed that hilly 5k on a Saturday morning!
It meant, too, that my old 5k phobia reared its ugly head. It often does, at this stage of marathon training, when it’s all about ramping up the mileage and quality short distance times seem a distant memory. If you regularly run a parkrun, you’re more relaxed about the time it takes to puff round. If you’re not feeling so PBish, you can take it easy and admire the scenery, or jog with a buddy and chat.
Last Thursday The Assembly League reared its terrifying head again. The League is a series of summer races (yes, races, be still my beating heart) for clubrunners. I run with my team, Kent AC, although I am one of the slower members.
It was a cold, rainy evening, and I had to force myself into my Kent AC vest and ‘serious’ shorts then cycle over to Beckenham for the race. Even lucky socks did not help. I started, and remained, nearer the back of the pack than I’d have liked. All the same, it was lovely to be greeted by my teammates at the end, and to be looking forward to working on those 5ks again, when all this 42K excitement is over.
The schedule for the coming week
Mon: Rest and stretch
Tuesday: track session (5-6m)
Wednesday: 3 miles easy
Thursday: 9 miles easy
Friday: 1-2 miles recovery
Saturday: parkrun – hurray!
Sunday: 10 miles easy