5 Things I love about parkrun

Let me tell you about Parkrun… you might have heard of it… I have mentioned it here a number of times, but never really talked about what it is or why I love it… and given that in the back in May I crossed my second list item connected to parkrun off and since then I have also celebrated at Gardiners Creek parkrun for my little brother, my mum and stepdad’s first parkruns and friend’s 50th parkrun in Coburg… I thought it was time.  Plus I am in a winter park running slump, so I am hoping this might help me fix my attitude…

So what is parkrun? Parkrun is a free, weekly, 5km timed run which probably takes place at a park near you… the are runs happen all around the world. They are open to everyone, they are free, safe and easy to take part in… it’s that simple… And why do I love it? Well there are lots of reasons, but for today, I have packaged it all up nicely into the top 5 things I love about parkrun right here:

1.  It makes me move
It’s no secret that I need encouragement to exercise, the fit pig is a perfect example of that… but once I am out of bed on a saturday morning (which lets face it, is the hardest part of the whole thing) I have a reason to exercise. And while I often whinge the whole way to parkrun, at the end I am always glad at the finish line, that not only have I finished parkrun, but I have also achieved a 5km walk/run and I don’t have to think about exercise for the rest of the day.

2.  It’s addictive
Not only does parkrun organise all of these events, but they time you and keep your stats all connected with a very handy barcode… at the end of every parkrun you are sent an email which gives you the results for the event at which you participated… you can see where you came, and in what time… but also how that compared to others at the same event, your gender, age group or your running club. This means that if you are at all competetive… you can race against yourself, people the same age as you… the whole community of parkrun… or a random runner you pick from the list that you think you can catch… I find these numbers incredibly addictive… I love stats… but to get the stats I have to run… or volunteer… otherwise you get nothing (other than a fun 5km run in a beautiful park).

Parkrun also encourage you to keep coming back by giving rewarding you with a free running top when you meet certain milestones, so that you can boast every parkrun about how far you have come… you get a t-shirt for 50, 100, 250 & 500… you also get a t-shirt for volunteering milestones… and nothing makes you get out of bed like a free gift getting closer.

3.  Community
I don’t know if it’s because they get up early… the endorphins from running? or something else… but parkrunners are nice, they are encouraging and supportive regardless of how fast or slow you are moving… They celebrate all the wins… big and small, and if you are really lucky you will find a parkrun that finds a reason to dress up every now and again just for the fun of it.

For me, it’s also given me a sub-parkrun community of friends and family that also parkrun… we might not be at the same event, but we share milestones and special events with each other and they have become a big part of the reason I run between parkrun and why I get up and go to parkrun even when its 5degrees outside.

4.  Being outside
It’s a well known fact that being outside is good for your soul.. nautre is important and when you work inside sometimes you don’t go outside unless you have a reason. Before I startefd parkrunning, my weekends were not much different. It was always too hot, too cold, too hard to spend time outside, but parkrun gives me a reason to be out there… even when it’s hot, cold, raining or somewhere in between. I know I shouldn’t need a reason to go outside, but having one certainly help. Plus my local parkrun and in fact most parkruns takes place in beautiful parks… so not only are you outside but it’s beautiful.

5.  There’s no catch
Seriously… there is no catch… its free, for everyone, forever… that’s their slogan… you can go when you want and where you want… just take your barcode and run… or walk… or volunteer. Nothing else is required…

So there you go, that’s why I love parkrun… well some of the reasons anyway… you should try one… if you want to find your closest course you can check out their website: http://www.parkrun.com, and if you decided to go, let me know… I’m always up for trying a new parkrun! Oh and my list items… were no. 9 ‘Do my 50th parkrun’ (completed 06/04) and no. 44 ‘Volunteer at parkrun’ (completed 04/05).

What I learnt from my month at the gym…

It feels like forever ago already, but less then two months ago I was on a trial at fernwood fitness. A friend of mine put the offer of a months free pass out into the world of Facebook… And even though I didn’t think I was probably one of the friends she had in mind when she put it up, I expressed my interest. The truth was I had always been a little curious about whether or not I would like the gym… Whether or not I would get much out of it… Or whether or not the reasons I had for not pursuing it earlier were true. Yet here I was with a Facebook message that said the 30day pass was mine… Enjoy. Now even though the trial finished in February and I haven’t continued at the gym, I did learn a thing or two from the experience…

1. It doesn’t matter where you are or what you can do, people will make assumptions and judgements based on what they see first…
This was probably the low light of my experience, but thankfully it was just a couple of people… just because I am bigger than you think I should be doesn’t mean I am lying about my exercise routine, my weight and what I do… I do exercise regularly, I know my weight and height… if you want it and I am a dietitian whether you like it or not…

2.  I could get used to the gym routine…
I have to admit I really started to get into the grove of squeezing it in around everything else, mostly first thing in the morning, but every now and again before or after something in the evening…

3. I am stronger than I thought…
On my weights intro session I had to use a piece of equipment called the ‘captain’s chair’… I am not really sure if that’s the real name for it… but that;s all I got… Anyway, it required me to lift my legs up while supporting the rest of my body weight with my arms and back… when I looked at it my initial thought was ‘no way… I haven’t been able to lift my own body weight with my arms since primary school and even then I was rubbish at it’. But feeling the need to prove myself I gave it a go and surprised my self… sure I wasn’t amazing but I could do it… more than once… and even if my trainer wasn’t… I was impressed.

4. ‘Free’ is a good motivator…
Because I had the 30day trial and I had already decided I probably wasn’t going to pay to continue I wanted to get as much out of the trial as I could… that meant cramming in session after session, all with the motivation ‘it’s free so you may as well make the most of it’. I have to admit the time limit also helped as I already knew it wouldn’t last forever… all I needed it to do was to kick me into gear again… get my exercise for 2013 rolling… and it worked… I think the fact that it was free made it feel like it a challenge and an opportunity… a gift that I could take and use or waste and I am glad I used it.

So there you go… my month at the gym… worth it, even with the good, the bad and the ugly.


Another Public Announcement Regarding Change Rooms

Tonight I was at the pool getting ready to swim some laps and once again I was confronted with a lack of public change room etiquette… so I have decided that is time for another public announcement… While there are still some issues about extreme nudity, I have not seen snacking or exercising the change rooms since so I am hoping that this will also work… so here is another community service announcement on public change rooms and public pools in general.

If you are using public pool changing rooms please take note of the following:

Do NOT ‘Pedegg’ your feet… for those of you who are not sure what I am taking about, I am referring to those little do it yourself pedicure things that scraps your feet to remove dead skin, leaving what remains super soft.  And while, yes, they do have a small catcher to collect the dead skin you remove, more often than not this doesn’t collect everything leaving behind your dead foot skin on the floor.  As a fellow change room user, who for safety reasons will continue to wear thongs in the change rooms anyway, I don’t appreciate you dropping dead foot on the floor.  I know swimming, or general submersion of skin in water softens the skin and therefore makes it easier to do… but do it at home, I don’t want to see it and I definitely don’t want to risk stepping in it, or breathing it in as little flakes become airborne…. it’s disgusting.

If you are using a public pool please take note of the following:

Do NOT walk in the medium lane… Medium is the suggested speed, if you are walking, chances are you are slow… please move to the slow lane… thats for you.

Do NOT stand in the middle of a lap lane and wonder why I am staring… It’s coz I am waiting for you to move… seriously either make you way to the end or get out… you are in the way.

Do NOT swim down the middle of the lane… it’s a two way thing… keep to the left so that everyone can swim in an orderly fashion.  If you swim down the middle you will kick me and I will kick you back… be warned.

Do wear appropriate bathers… just keep it covered… it makes it nicer for everyone… if we want to see more, we will ask, but chances are we don’t.

So there you go… here endith another community announcement.


Life in Colour

I have decided that I love fun runs… I love the atmosphere, I love the challenge and I love the support and this weekend I ran the very first ‘Color Run’ in the southern hemisphere… right here in good old Melbourne. And despite the fact that it wasn’t as well organised or as colourful as I had been led to believe from the advertising that preceded the event it was still a lot of fun…

To be honest I don’t really have a whole heap to say about the run… but I guess it needs a little explaining…  for those of you who are unfamiliar with the ‘Color Run’ (spelt like that because it’s a trademark from America… even though we are in Australia and it’s now wrong) it’s dubbed the happiest 5km in the world… and while it was not quite 5km… it was happy, at each kilometer mark runners and walkers alike were covered with a different coloured powder (coloured corn starch) so by the end you were a rainbow… which in real life was colourful, but the pictures don’t really do it justice… but just because I can below are some before and after pictures for you viewing pleasure:





Fitness is Heartless

It all fades pretty quick… this is something that I have learnt, and no this isn’t a morbid reflection on life, this is a reflection on my fitness…

Only a month ago I was at the peak of my fitness, and while it may have been only a small peak I was feeling pretty good about how far I had come. This time last month I ran (well ran/walked… in some slow rendition of interval training) 10km in the Melbourne Marathon Festival, which I was pretty happy about… well mostly, part of me feels like 10km isn’t that big a deal and I was so slow it’s probably not even worth writing about… but either way it’s better than where I was when I first started training again… Now a month later I feel like I am back at the beginning, I have had a week of being sick, a week of assignments, another week of being sick and a week of laziness and now I can’t run… it is a disaster! In only a week’s time I will be running the colour run (which will get a blog of its own once it’s done) and I am a little worried about how slow I will be. Luckily, I think it’s the kind of run which is best walked/danced/celebrated… and slowly enjoyed, but it really shocked me how quickly my fitness disappeared. It just seems cruel, you work so hard to build it up and then bam it’s gone… it all hurts again, you puff and pant and end up the colour of beetroot… and then just feel disappointed. I am determined not to let it beat me, I will run again, I will be fit, I will be good at exercising consistently… but I just needed to whinge about how heartless exercise is when you need a break…

I am a Runner… kinda

It is done… I made it… albeit very very slowly, but I have finished the 10km run as part of this years Melbourne Marathon, and despite the fact that I am a little bit underwhelmed because it doesn’t really compare to the 21.1km the halfers just ran or the 42 the Marathon runners conquered, I am still pretty proud of myself… and I am thinking that maybe my second half marathon won’t be as impossible as I originally thought… but maybe that’s just the excitement of finishing this morning that’s talking… anyway, these are some of my favourite pictures from today… please pay no attention to my red face… that’s normal… I hope…

Life after Swimming – Week 2 of the Olympics

I know that it’s all over now, and I have once again missed the boat with this post because I have… well see the other post about the Olympics for my list of excuses, but I never in my wildest dreams thought I would say this, but when I got to the beginning of week 2 I was really glad that the swimming was over.

I love all things Olympics and in the past the swimming has been my favourite bit.  As a kid, swimming was my sport of choice, of course I wasn’t all that great, but I loved it all the same, my heroes were swimmers like Kieren Perkins, Michael Klim and Suzie O’Neill and while these swimmers have now retired, I have still loved watching the next generation swim much faster than I could have ever imagined.  In the past I have been glued to the swimming, but I think I think I am just a bit over it.  When it came to the Olympics, week 1 with the swimming was my favourite week because we won lots and didn’t have that many competitors in week two, so it got a bit boring, but this year I was glad to see it go.

Now, before you jump to conclusions it has nothing to do with the results… I had just had enough to be honest.  I think I knew there was lots of other stuff happening and just felt like we were watching swimming for the sake of watching the swimming… and replays of swimming and interviews of swimmers and listening to commentators talk about our performance in swimming, which was apparently average, despite the fact that we were still up there with the best of them.  Silver is pretty good you know!

I think perhaps because, as a country,  Australia has been good at swimming for a long time, we get to see a lot more of it on TV regularly.  At least once a year there is some kind of swimming championships that gets broadcast across the nation, so I don’t have to wait for 4 years to see it.  So by the time the Olympics came around this year, I had already had my swimming dose.

As I have gotten older I have learnt to appreciate the skill involved in some of the other sports, and because I no longer pretend that one day I could be as good as the swimmers, that dream died long long ago, I realise I am rubbish at all of them so it’s incredible whatever the sport, whether the Australian’s are there or not.  I don’t see the purpose of repeating a race 8 times when we could actually watch something different… and perhaps a little more exciting.

I am really proud of our swimmers, but I am also proud of all the other Australians those that got air time and those that didn’t, just getting to the Olympics is an incredible achievement and once the swimming was finally over, I have been able to enjoy learning all about the equestrian, sailing, taekwondo, boxing, water polo, gymnastics of all types, wrestling, BMX and the aths.  And… I have to admit that I enjoyed week 2 of the Olympics heaps more than the first.  I think it’s purely because it was something different, something I don’t get to watch all the time, and something that I probably won’t watch at this level again for, well, 4 years.  In fact, I am sad that it is all over and that the XXX Olympiad is all done and dusted but I think my sleep deprived body will be rejoicing.