Boom!

Hi, I'm Ronnie Bray and have been involved with parkrun since my first event in 2011. Anyone who knows me knows I can sum myself up in one word - Boom!

TN9

Having previously been a heavy smoker I decided to give up and was able to use parkrun to get fit and replace the addiction! I don't do anything in half measure. I quickly loved the buzz of parkrun and felt part of the parkrun community.

I also found I enjoyed volunteering and organising the events as much as I did running them therefore I eventually setup Temple Newsam parkrun in 2012.

I soon became a parkrun Ambassador helping parkruns and junior parkrun events get off the ground in my area. Yorkshire had one of the first junior events outside of London, Roundhay juniors and now we have a whole host of them running every week with more locations coming on board all the time.

TN7TN5TN6

I'm a passionate volunteer as you can see and am always amazed at the passion of other volunteers at our junior events. I remember the first time we ran the inaugural junior event at Temple Newsam and we had a lot of volunteers turn up from our Saturday parkrun, many of them without children. They just wanted to help out!

At Knavesmire juniors for our first event we had 152 runners taking part which was just fantastic to see. I love it when a community really embraces the event right from the off.

TN8

One thing I always make sure with any new junior parkrun is that we measure, measure, measure and measure it again and then once more just to be sure. It can be surprising how many different results a trundle wheel can produce when walking on the same loop!

We take the same care for our younger runners as we do for our 5k runners.

It’s not been all fun and games...

I remember meeting Paul Sinton-Hewitt for the very first time in Harrogate when I was supporting the startup of Harrogate juniors. This has now been running for nearly a year in the lovely Valley Gardens. I couldn't have been more nervous if I was meeting the Queen!

Those who know me will probably be surprised at that, but it’s true.

It's an exciting time and I'm looking forward to seeing all the junior events go from the strength to strength.

TN10

Boom!

Ronnie Bray

 

being part of something – weekly newsletter 25 August 2016

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being part of something

 

Darren Fawke joined parkrun for the same reason many people do. He had never exercised regularly, but was motivated to become fitter and healthier. In this week’s newsletter, Darren reveals the part that parkrun played in introducing him to his running family.

Having special needs, I have always found it difficult to access sport. There are many barriers when you struggle socially and get anxious just going out and meeting people. I was very depressed at times, and felt because of the way I am, no-one would really welcome me participating or being part of a ‘run’.

It was New Year’s Day and I had said I was going to try parkrun, but I had done the usual New Year’s thing and overindulged on alcohol – and woke up not feeling my best. However, I had said I was doing it, and my sister had made it sound so welcoming I knew I just had to give it a go. The weather was awful, it poured with rain, and I was very nervous. But everyone was so friendly and it was such a welcoming atmosphere.

I don’t think I ever felt comfortable. I ran and walked, and found it tough. What I did feel though was part of something. Everyone cheered and shouted each other on. I felt amazing crossing that line, it was the first time I had ever ‘enjoyed’ running.

I didn’t feel excluded, or different. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t fast, it didn’t matter that I wasn’t fit, and it didn’t matter that I run differently.

I have since become a member of a local running club, and I have a new family. A running family. I train with them two to three times a week, health and work permitting. I have lost a stone. I feel fitter, and I now actually feel like I can run. I have done a couple of 10ks and really hope to fulfil a dream of a half marathon and maybe a full marathon.

Being fitter has had a really positive impact on me. I am more social, and it has really helped with my depression. Physically I move better, and I have had to buy trousers with a smaller waist. For me it’s more the mental aspect though, being part of something. Telford parkrun is so friendly and welcoming.

I would encourage anyone to give parkrun a go. We are all nervous, but it is such a low-key relaxed environment that you really can’t go wrong. My sister was involved in the set up of Telford parkrun and has been involved with it for almost four years. It took her some time to convince me to come along. But I am so glad I did. I like to volunteer too. My job restricts me somewhat as I work most Saturdays, but I always pop along to the start, to say hello to everyone and watch them on their way.

Happy parkrunning,

Darren Fawke


ARUK image

family fundraising

ARUK: Two Portrush parkrunners are asking for support from their fellow parkrunners as they team up to fundraise for Alzheimer’s Research UK in honour of grandmother-of-18 Lilian McAuley.

David McAuley, Lilian’s son, and Barry Temple, Lilian’s grandson-in-law, are part of a group made up of Lilian’s friends and family called ‘Memories for Mum’. At 83, Lilian is currently living with vascular dementia in a care home in Portstewart, County Londonderry, after being diagnosed in January 2015. As part of the 30-strong group, Barry and David are fundraising through

Running Down Dementia with the help of their weekly parkrun, which they signed up to just this month. Their family, including Barry’s nine-month-old daughter Kate, could be seen last week cheering them on as they tackled the 5km route, while wearing their Memories for Mum t-shirts. The family has already raised more than £1,000 for Alzheimer’s Research UK, and aim to raise £7,500 for the charity overall.

David said: “We are thrilled to be joining parkrun, it’s something we’ve wanted to do for a long time and we feel very welcome already. Alzheimer’s Research UK is a cause very close to our hearts and we are doing everything in our power to raise money so that dementia can be stopped once and for all.”

Barry added: “The response has been fantastic so far and we can’t wait to hit our 100k with Running Down Dementia. We’re a very close family and we’re all really motivated. This really is a testament to the kind of lady Lilian has always been. She is incredibly charitable and kind.”

To donate to the family’s fundraising page visit their Justgiving page here. You can also keep up with their activities on Facebook here.


Intersport

summer lovin’…

IntersportWe love bank holidays! An extra day off, a shorter week back, and time to sneak in an extra run, if you’re anything like us!

It’s been great seeing your pictures come in as you try out new parkruns on holiday.

If you’re feeling a little blue that the holidays will soon be over, we’re here waving our Intersport flags and parkrun bibs to remind you that there’s plenty to look forward to.

Autumn is a fabulous season for running – think crisp air, misty mornings and colourful crunchy leaves.

Our woodlands, parks and open spaces are at their most beautiful and it’s arguably the best time to be a parkrunner!

Be one step ahead and grab yourself some new autumn kit with 10% off at Intersport.

Simply show your parkrun barcode in store (find your nearest store here) to qualify for your parkrun partnership price #PPP*, or use code PARKRUN10 when shopping online at www.intersport.co.uk.

Send us your pictures via Twitter @Intersport_UK #loveparkrun and like us on Facebook to keep up with what’s going on.

Enjoy the bank holiday and see you at your next parkrun!

*PPP valid at all participating Intersport stores; see our website for details.

** Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer or promotion.


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share your parkrun success stories!

Fitbit: Us regular parkrunners know what makes it so great - the weekly 5k run brings communities together and encourages people to get fit without having to fork out for a gym membership. As well as that, parkrun has transformed people’s lives!

We love to hear from Fitbit users who have taken on their local parkrun, armed with their Fitbit trackers. Not only do we hear about personal bests and new friends, but also improved confidence and amazing changes to health and wellbeing.

For example, Mark from Taunton struggled with his weight and health for a while before he discovered Fitbit and parkrun:

“In March I was 16 ½ stone. I bought a Fitbit, got competitive and lost four stone. I recently ran Taunton parkrun in 19:10 and was first in my age group.”

Karen from Southport used her Fitbit to get her on track to get in shape, and then joined in with her local parkrun to keep pushing her goals:

“I’m never without my Fitbit, and have lost more than five stone in the past 12 months with it. I recently took part in my first parkrun in Southport and I completed it in 36:51.” 

Do you have a success story from using your Fitbit for parkrunning? Whether you run, jog, walk or volunteer to connect with your community, we want to hear from you.

Get in touch with us on Twitter, on Facebook or email rlovejoy@fitbit.com and share your story. No matter if it’s a huge goal or a personal triumph, every story matters and we’d love to hear them. 

Be inspired by other parkrunning Fitbit users and read our success story blog.You’ll also find lots of tips on keeping fit, how to get the most out of your tracker and any new updates from us.

Haven’t got a Fitbit yet? Take advantage of exclusive discounts on selected Fitbit devices via the parkrun Fitbit store. Click here to browse and start shopping. Once you’re armed with a Fitbit, you may have a success story of your own to share with us! 

Happy stepping!


tring_parkrun_1024

parks consultation – have your say

The Communities and Local Government Committee has launched an inquiry into public parks.

Its aim is to examine the impact of reduced local authority budgets on these open spaces and consider concerns that their existence is under threat.

The Committee wants to encourage as many people as possible to contribute to the inquiry, via a short online survey or on Twitter explaining why you value your local parks, using the hashtag #myparkmatters.

parkrun UK will also be submitting a comprehensive written response.


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parkrun population

This week’s UK statistics for parkrun and junior parkrun:

84,777 parkrunners
9,263 volunteers
5,743 first timers
12,492 PBs


random stat

random stat of the week

Members of 2,168 running clubs and running groups ran, jogged and walked at UK parkrun events last weekend.


feedback from the field

Jamie Barry FFTF

One of our Visually Impaired runners, Tony, gave us a bit of feedback on our course recently.

We have some black bollards that blend into the background at two points on the course so we used old vests on them to make them stand out. Tony said this really helped him.

Whilst doing course set-up with a volunteer, we talked about how we used the vests in this way. We also spoke about how Tony had run on a treadmill for 15 years. He is now smashing PBs most weeks!

The volunteer-donated bollard covers are in a colour that Tony suggested was a good contrast, making them stand out. Thank you to Julian for his kind donation that benefits all of our parkrunners.

Jamie Barry

donna bennett FFTF

This August my family and I headed off to South Africa on Safari, but before we got to our safari reserve we stayed in Cape Town for a few days. Luckily for me one of the days landed on a Saturday, which of course is parkrunday! 

I have become a keen parkrunner and on occasions my children have joined me. We thoroughly enjoy the friendly atmosphere so we thought we could all give this a go, including my husband.

We went to Greenpoint parkrun at the foot of Table Mountain and ran as the sun was rising - a bit different to my normal parkrun which is in Coventry around the Memorial Park. I even managed a PB!

Donna Bennett

 

FFTF Claire West

Members of our family congregated for a weekend of fun in Liverpool recently. We planned to eat, drink and not exercise.

But when we discovered Birkenhead were holding their first birthday parkrun, six of us plus a toddler and buggy packed our trainers. One of us had never run before, one was recovering from a broken leg, one hadn't run in five years, two run occasionally and one is a regular.

It was a great morning followed by delicious cake and our first timer now runs weekly. I highly recommend checking your holiday destination for the local parkrun as it added so much to our weekend away!

Claire West

My daughter Emily, five years old, wanted to come along to a parkrun after I started and is now on her fifth Cassiobury parkrun. She loves it.

Running with her is a joy to watch and the encouragement we get from both fellow runners and spectators is brilliant.

It's always a great atmosphere and good to see a range of different runners attending each week. We both look forward to many more in the future!

Paul Meyler 

I ran my PB on Super Saturday when the Olympics was in London, and I only had to wait four years to the exact Saturday to get my next PB at Barrow parkrun.

I think it was me who must have inspired all of the UK athletes to get their golds!

Paul Quinn


Let us know if you have an interesting parkrun story or photo to share.

 

Many reasons

Hello. My name is Adam Freeman and I’ve been invited to share my story with you.

Adam
There are many reasons to love parkrun and junior parkrun. My family love it for many different reasons: health, community, volunteering, etc. The other Sunday morning someone stopped me and asked why I had such a big smile on my face? Simple I said “I’m going to junior parkrun”.

Hazel 3

Let me introduce you to Hazel, my daughter, who has just turned five. Hazel contracted Cytomegalovirus (CMV) in the womb. This caused mild brain damage and has rendered her profoundly deaf. At 14 months she had a very successful operation for cochlear implants and it is amazing what she can hear now.

Hazel

Hazel walked independently for the first time in April. She would love to run the full junior parkrun course, but she fatigues quickly. As well as muscle fatigue and motor control issues she has vestibular processing disorder. This doesn’t stop her though, in the garden and park she often says “come on, let’s play parkrun” and off she goes for about 100 metres. She is amazing, she has taught us, as a family, so much. She is so happy, her smile and hugs… well they are pretty amazing too. So anyway, you have your daughter who loves parkrun, but she can’t run far, she can’t timekeep, barcode scan, she can’t hold a camera very well, but you want her to feel more involved than just sitting next to you while you volunteer. You spend ages looking at all the volunteer roles, what can she do? Think… come on Dad... think. I know! Finish token support. She can sit next to whoever is barcode scanning and hold a tub and everyone can put their finish tokens in Hazel’s tub. Fantastic! It worked! Some of the parkrunners even say “thank you Hazel”. Anyone can be a part of something amazing and feel involved. It’s brilliant.

Hazel 2

I love my family. I love our core team, who are fantastic with all the children and treat Hazel exactly the same. I love all the volunteers. I love parkrun and I love junior parkrun.

Adam Freeman

Chippenham junior parkrun

 

the buzz of parkrun – weekly newsletter 18 August 2016

Ruth Greer cropped

the buzz of parkrun

Hello!

Throughout the parkrun world there are fantastic stories of how people with impairments have benefited from parkrun either as runners, walkers or volunteers. In last week’s newsletter we asked parkrunners who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a professional involvement in this area to get in touch with us, as part of a wider project to understand how parkrun can become more welcoming and accommodating. The response we received was overwhelming, and we wanted to share this particular piece of feedback.

My name is Ruth Greer and I am a 36-year-old mother of two. I’ve been profoundly deaf since the age of 11 and depend on lip-reading which I taught myself.

I always wanted to run but would quit before I even left the house. There’s no doubt that I’m a cosy sofa type of person and I used to sit down every evening from 6:30 til 9pm watching soaps on TV.

Then last October, my daughter came home with leaflets promoting health and exercise and providing information about a Couch to 5k programme that was being run by the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and Ballymena Runners. I knew I was unwell and had anxiety, and that joining a Couch to 5k would be an enormous challenge, but I mustered up the courage to go along on the first night. Instantly I was blown away by the incredible welcome of the volunteers who came to join and support us.

I met a man named Paul who was involved in the nearby Ecos parkrun, and he stood by me every week through the Couch to 5k programme as I puffed my way up a hill that on more than one occasion I thought would make me sick. Equally though, I discovered I was really enjoying myself and we were all having a really good laugh together. Running was actually fun! Then, after nine weeks of persistence and perseverance, I went along to Ecos parkrun. 43 minutes later I crossed the line having run 5k non-stop for the first time – an emotional moment I will never forget.

After that graduation parkrun last December not only did I become a regular parkrunner, but my husband and two children began running too. The benefits of becoming fitter and healthier have had a positive influence on the rest of my life, especially with what I eat.  

Being hearing impaired and relying on lip reading is extremely tiring on the mind, and just like everyone I have days when I don’t feel my best. But I know that when I get to parkrun I will catch that contagious buzz from everyone else, which always encourages me and lifts my spirits.

Ruth


Fitbit

your new look Fitbit app

If you track your activity stats and parkrun PBs with the Fitbit app on iOS or Windows, you’ve probably noticed something a little different. Here at Fitbit, we have redesigned our app dashboard based on your feedback, making the data that’s most important to your fitness easier to use and understand. So apart from its slick appearance, what else can you expect from the new and improved dashboard?

- New daily stats tile: Now you can see more of your stats at once for a more complete overview. Tap each individual stat to expand.

- New tile shape: The square design of the stat tiles fits in more information, so you can see more of your data at a glance without clicking in.

- More personalisation: Tap ‘Edit’ in the top right corner to choose what stats you do and don’t want to see on your dashboard.

- Quick logging: It’s now easier to log food, sleep, exercise and set alarms with just a tap.

For the full run down on the new dashboard, check our blog. If you’re on Android, this opt-in update will arrive later in the year. If you’re using it already, let us know what you think and show us your stat screenshots! Get in touch and share your stories on Facebook and Twitter.

Utilise your parkrun exclusive discount with Fitbit by clicking here.

Happy stepping!


ARUK andy-harper

athletic Andy

The inspirational Running Down Dementia runner we’d like to introduce to you this week is Andy Harper. Andy is a regular runner at Ayr parkrun in Ayrshire, Scotland.

Though Running Down Dementia encourages participants to run 100k and raise £100, Andy wanted to stretch himself by matching his kilometres with the money that he’s raised. With just short of a whopping £800 from generous supporters, Andy is now aiming to run 800k, and has already completed 636k with the help of his parkruns every weekend. Andy fits his running around a busy job and looking after his children and has just completed his 50th parkrun.

Andy was inspired to support Alzheimer’s Research UK after his aunt Anne McLoy, 77, was diagnosed with dementia. Anne’s condition deteriorated quickly and she recently moved into residential care in Greenock.

Andy said: “When people think of dementia, they think of memory loss. But seeing my aunt go through this has opened my eyes to all the other facets of the condition. Her change in personality is the hardest thing to witness. She always used to be quite gregarious, but now she can become angry in social situations, which isn’t like her at all. Dementia is a dreadful thing to have to deal with, not just for the person diagnosed, but for everyone around them too. Research is the only way we can attack the condition and find a way to beat it.”

At Alzheimer’s Research UK, we can’t thank Andy enough for all his efforts. You can donate to Andy’s page here. And if you’d like to give your own Running Down Dementia fundraising page a boost, why not visit our ‘tools’ page for more ideas.


Intersport

welcome to our new site!

Our new online store here at Intersport is one week old! We hope you have been enjoying the ease and convenience of shopping for your favourite sports brands from the comfort of your home. We’ve already had several of you pick up your new gear in store with our free click and collect service, which is great as it means we still get to chat to you in person and share a little parkrun love.

If you haven’t yet had a chance to browse our new site, head toour website and check out the huge range of gear on offer in our core sports of running, fitness, swim and football. You can also search by brand, and there is quick access to the store locator map to help you find your nearest high street store.

Thank you for your support so far, and don’t forget you can claim your 10% parkrun discount off all full priced items by entering ‘PARKRUN10’ at the checkout when shopping online. Or pop by in person with your parkrun barcode to claim your parkrun partnership price #PPP* off goods in store. As always, we’ll be on hand with tips and advice about all things running.

We love to see what you’re up to, so keep your pictures coming on Twitter @Intersport_UK  #loveparkrun and like us on Facebook to keep up with what’s going on. See you at your next parkrun!

*PPP valid at all participating Intersport stores; see our website for details.
** Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer or promotion.


FFTF Alison Richmond

Copacabana parkrun

Last Saturday saw more than one hundred people take to the promenade at Copacabana Beach in Rio for an unofficial parkrun, with none other than double Olympic gold medalist Dame Kelly Holmes and former 5,000 metre world record holder Dave Moorcroft volunteering. The event took place ahead of the I Am Team GB campaign, which will be communicating the great work that parkrun volunteers do right across the UK every week.

Before sending the runners and walkers on their way, Dame Kelly said: “We’ve had so much support going on and it’s been fantastic for Team GB. But the one thing that’s brilliant in the UK is the free 5k parkruns, so I couldn’t come all the way to Copacabana Beach without running on the beach with everybody.”

Among the lucky parkrunners to take part was Alison Richmond from Gunpowder parkrun: “I took part in the pop-up parkrun at Copacabana beach this morning. There were a few of us in various parkrun shirts. It was great to meet Kelly, she was lovely and very encouraging.

“Even at 7am in winter it felt quite hot! I am here in Rio as a volunteer and have been on the photo team at the tennis centre, the most amazing job I could have hoped for.”

Further information about I Am Team GB is available here.


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Swim Serpentine

One-mile swim, 24 September, Serpentine, Hyde Park, London. 

Our partners, London Marathon Events are staging ‘the’ open water swimming event to do in 2016 and is a unique opportunity to swim in one of the most iconic open water city centre venues in the world.

Four years on from the amazing London Olympics, celebrate the event’s legacy by swimming a mile in the Serpentine – the venue for the open water swimming at London 2012.

Don’t miss your chance to enter now and get set for a great day out in one of London’s most beautiful Royal Parks. There will be loads to see and do so bring the family and make a day of it! 

Costing £39 and taking place on Saturday 24 September it will be one event you will not want to miss. To find out more visit www.swimserpentine.co.uk.


parkrun stats photo

parkrun population

Here are this week’s summary statistics for parkrun UK (including junior parkrun)

91,978 parkrunners
9,286 volunteers
6,583 first timers
16,476 PBs


Rob Phillips Rio 300

random stat of the week

Amongst the 2.7 million people registered with parkrun globally, there are 121 named Gold, 166 Silvers and 13 named Bronze.


feedback from the field

FFTF Karen Lawther

Looking for a new challenge in July 2015, we decided to run all 22 Northern Ireland parkruns. We have enjoyed the unique challenge of every course, the wonderfully supportive volunteers and that fantastic feeling of being part of the biggest family of runners. parkruns have been a great way to see around our country.

We always walked around the surrounding area and grabbed a post run breakfast in a local café. Some became weekend trips and, apart from Enniskillen, cancelled one very icy morning, most have gone according to plan.

We will, however, never forget completing the soft-sanded Portrush run at high tide, or perhaps it’s our quads that won't forget! The tour is now complete… but due to start again soon!
Karen Lawther

FFTF Jo Sprague

Last month we had the privilege of taking just over a week's holiday in France, which meant two parkrun days!

The Paris parkrun follows a beautiful heart-shaped course through a large wooded area. The road-like paths are smooth and wide. With just 50 runners, you can certainly imagine how parkrun could grow to be a big event there.

The following week we went to a Bordeaux parkrun - just 18 of us on a beautiful, two-lap run of the woods, starting off on soft dry sand, which soon became firmer, on a narrow, windy course.

I'd encourage anyone to take in parkrun tourism, either UK or abroad. It's great to try out new courses and meet other parkrunners!
Jo Sprague

 

Onward, onward thundered the gallant 300...into the (Arrow) valley of death. Marshalls to the left of em, marshalls to the right, the plucky warriors looked magnificent in full flight.

Down past the lake....legs now starting to quake, then up Cardiac Hill, they experienced the thrill, of lung bursting exertion, of their complete immersion in blood sweat and tears and in conquering their fears of this formidable course......

"A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse" came the loud shout, for they had just found out what the parkrun is about, after toiling all week in offices and factories.....it's by far the best way of recharging their batteries.......after all.....who could deny that thrill that they seek....who could deny that pleasure every week?
Ken Byng

 

I completed Burnham and Highbridge parkrun recently, and as I was watching some of the final parkrunners cross the finish line I could see the sense of achievement and pride in their faces.

This was only my second parkrun but I can see the point to it all. All shapes, sizes and ages, all wanting to do something to push themselves, even a little. In my opinion, this event should be encouraged and remain free to all to enjoy.

Anyone who has any doubts or disagrees, should go and stand at the finish line and see the person who has never run before, the young children with parents and grandparents and the people on their journey to having a healthier lifestyle, all finishing with a smile and a whoop of joy. Well done parkrun!
Jim Thompson

 

I was reading Lindsay Usher's story in last week's parkrun newsletter about her daughter and her posting the same times at Chester and Errdig parkruns.

I have a similar story - my husband and I have the same PBs at Killerton (23:23) and Basingstoke (23:10) parkruns, both set at different times, and we weren't running together!
Helen Hart

 

Featured in last week's newsletter, Lindsay Usher and Sarah are not the only mum and daughter to get the same times at different parkruns in the same week.

On 6 August my mum ran 27:25 in her first visit to Woking parkrun, while 30 miles away my sister was at her home run of Gladstone also clocking a time of 27:25!
Sharon Davidson

 



Let us know
if you have an interesting parkrun story or photo to share.

 


parkrunner of the week

Name: Samuel 

Age: 7

Occupation: Student

Number of parkruns: 140

Favourite volunteer role: Pre-event set up

What do you do at parkruns: I run both the junior and 5k parkruns (I've run 100 junior parkruns and 40 Saturday parkruns). Before junior parkruns I set up the course with my Mum and Dad, putting out cones and arrows. I then help with the pre-run warm-up. I sometimes help hand out finish tokens at the end of 5k parkruns. When I have finished running the junior parkrun I always go back onto the course to run in with my younger cousin.

How has parkrun changed your running: parkrun has made me fitter and I can almost beat my Dad!

What do you like about parkrun: I've made lots of friends at junior parkrun which is great. I also like visiting other parkruns whenever we can (we visited Aberystwyth junior parkrun while we were on holiday and have been to lots of other Saturday parkruns) and I love meeting other parkrunners.

Most memorable or funniest parkrun moment?: My most memorable moment was visiting Bushy parkrun and being amongst more than 1,000 other runners. I really enjoyed that. And they have giant cookies in the café afterwards!

 

research into adolescent runners

junior parkrun is about so many different things: increasing the number of children participating in regular physical activity; promoting the benefits of a healthy lifestyle; and providing an opportunity for families to do something fit and active together each week. And with more than 7,000 4-14 year-olds running, jogging and walking 2k each Sunday thanks to junior parkrun, the impact is significant.

It is also very pleasing to look at the most recent figures from Sport England’s active people survey and see that childhood participation in athletics and distance running has become much more popular in England. Although the growth in participation is promising for all involved with the sport, including the National Governing Body, England Athletics, the number of young people taking part in distance running reduces after puberty.

Considering that you are reading this junior parkrun newsletter, it is highly likely that you are a participant, parent, and/or volunteer at your local junior parkrun. You may even have a coloured parkrun wristband or two in your household as a sign of regular participation!

boys running

However, do you think that this level of participation will continue? Although you may not know the answer to this question, our research group, the Children’s Health and Exercise Research Centre, University of Exeter, is working with England Athletics to explore the possible causes of why young athletes are leaving the sport of distance running. One possible cause of this dropout is that young people may be training too hard too soon, and possibly damaging their long-term development and motivation to continue in the sport. This is often called overtraining, yet exactly how many young distance runners experience this is still not clear.

Photo credit Paul Hammond

This is where you, as a junior parkrun participant (or the parent of a participant*), can help. As part of our research study, we are looking for adolescent distance runners, aged 11 to 15 years old, to complete an online survey. This will take no longer than 20 minutes to complete and is open to any athlete that is training at or competing for an England Athletics registered club. The results from this study will provide a much better understanding of how overtraining may affect, and be affected by, the training practices of distance running. The results will hopefully benefit all UK National Governing Bodies for Athletics.

If you are a junior parkrunner aged 11 to 15 and are training or competing for an England Athletics registered club, and would like to complete the online survey, simply click on this link.

Happy junior parkrunning,
Robert Mann
Children's Health and Exercise Research Centre (CHERC)

* The survey should only be completed by participants. However, if you are either a coach or parent, please feel free to contact me via email for more information at rm537@exeter.ac.uk.

This project is being funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Photos courtesy of Paul Hammond and Bruce Li

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