Parkrun?: Hello all I was just wondering if... - Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K
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Hello all

I was just wondering if anyone has any experience with Parkrun?

I am still a new jogger (just finished week 2) but I am thinking of doing a parkrun in a few weeks to get used to a 5k distance and timed running.

20 Replies

I'd leave it until you're towards the end of the plan, unless you're already fit and can run a significant part of 5k or are comfortable with a lot of effort for 45 minutes or more. Most of the field at the Parkrun will be running under 30 minutes for the full distance. There are always some people who are much slower (and most if not all Parkruns have a "tailrunner" - an experienced runner who stays with the last person) so if you were serious about experiencing the atmosphere of it, you can absolutely join in. I just think you'd be better off waiting until you've done the 20 or 25 minute runs in week 5/6. Last Saturday I ran a PB of 32 minutes at the Parkrun. I was placed 231 out of a field of 267.

slowmoverGraduate in reply to Steve_L

Thank you for your insight :)

I'm not bothered about my time or where I place at the moment, just thinking about it from an experience perspective, also I rarely go off tarmac and I think it might mix it up a bit maybe?

Steve_LGraduate in reply to slowmover

I think it tends to be a bit hectic and can be very crowded. It's up to you, of course, but if you want to mix the runs up a bit, why not just try different courses?


Gotta love Parkrun. I used the course of my nearest one during the podcasts so I was really familiar with the route by the time I did it for the first time. It's a brilliant concept, a completely free timed 5k every week run by volunteers, most of whom are Parkrunners themselves and want to put something back in to the running community. It's a really supportive group. You register for whichever course you want, and that is your "home" course. You print off a barcode and take it along, when you cross the finish line they hand you a plastic tag, then you join the queue and have both tag and barcode scanned. Then a couple of hours later, you get an email or text with your time. You can go on the website to see the whole results page.

It's a world wide concept, so although you "belong" to your home course, if you take along your barcode you can enter any one, anywhere in the world without doing anything else. Mines on a bit of paper which goes behind my phone strapped to my arm.

Doesn't matter how fast or slow you are. At my local one the first person across the line does it in a ridiculous 16 minutes or something and the slowest in about 50 minutes. At the moment I'm on 33 mins. You can walk/run it, people do it with dogs and there's always lots of wee people as well. It worked best for me once I knew I could run 5k without stopping to walk but that was just me. You could join up and get a barcode, and volunteer a couple of times so you can see how it all works? Honestly, I can't sing its praises enough!

slowmoverGraduate in reply to AllieG

Aww it sounds fantastic, in a few weeks I'll give it a go. Thanks for the info.

Mp63 in reply to AllieG

Totally agree


Parkrun is brilliant, but I waited until week 8 for my first visit. If you're already reasonably fit it may be ok for you in a couple of weeks but I wouldn't risk undoing the good work you'll have done up to that point unless you're sure you'll enjoy it.


My suggestion is to find your nearest Park Run, and go along as a spectator in the next couple of weekends. Soak up the atmosphere, get inspired and motivated. This will spur you on through C25K, and maybe do one of the C25K W8 or W9 runs on the ParkRun course mid-week. Finally, graduate W9r3 at ParkRun.

Your time is unimportant. Once you are doing Park run regularly, you may want to try and reduce your time, or you may just want to enjoy running with others and completely ignore your time.

But do register at Park run, and do try to make this a regular Saturday morning activity.


I've been a bit cautious about recommending a headlong dive into Parkrun for the beginner. If your local Parkrun is run by enthusiastic volunteers who are determined to be inclusive then you'll be in good hands. If the run is over a nice flat course, then it will be perfect for the beginner. My local run has some genuinely great people doing the organising, but I couldn't recommend the relentlessly hilly woodland trail to you unless you'd seen it and wanted to give it a go.

I quite like MarkyD's thoughts above, sounds like good sense.


Thanks for all the great advise, I think I will go for a look first :)


You can also volunteer if you want to get involved but not run. The parkrun website lists the finish times, so you can have a look & see the kind of times others are doing


I would agree with MarkyD, go along and see what its about. I'm sure any of the volunteers will be only too pleased to encourage your interest. Parkrun is the highlight of my week, and in my experience of 5 different parkruns (32 run, 7 volunteered) I think Steve's overview is a bit harsh. All the ones I have have been to have been very inclusive (I am a much slower runner than Steve !)

slowmoverGraduate in reply to Hidden

Thank you!


Everyone is different, but in hindsight, I think I was ready for parkrun at the end of week 5. I didn't go until about week 7 though. I've been going regularly since and think it's fantastic. I've now been 11 times at 4 different runs (course number 5 pencilled in for tomorrow). I've found them all to be incredibly welcoming. As long as you think you can get round in under 50 minutes or so (including walking if necessary) you'll be fine. On my home track I know that there are people regularly walking by the 1.5K point (because I pass them at about 4K on my way back to the finish). That doesn't seem to worry anyone though.

My recommendation would be that once you think you can run continuously for about 20 minutes - go for it. If you want to experience the atmosphere before then - go and watch or volunteer. If you do go and watch I suggest that you ignore the people coming in at about 16 minutes. Look at the ones coming through at 35 minutes plus and realise that you could be amongst those people too in the next few weeks.

slowmoverGraduate in reply to AdamB

Great advise, thank you!


My advise would be the same as others have said. Look at the results and see what the times are, some are much faster than others.'ll get a feel of things and will become part of the team. Try the course when it's not Saturday morning, just to see what it's like terrain wise. Then when you feel ready go for it. Nobody will mind how long it takes, if there happens to not be a tail runner the marshals will know what's going on, chat to the volunteers - we're all human! (Unless it's been a heavy Friday night 😉)

I've just been part of setting up a new parkrun local to me. We're lucky that it's a 3 lap course so it's easy to get a feel for who is where. It's been fun getting it started - trials were completed by members of the local running clubs! I decided I'd volunteer a few more weeks till we got some "normal" speed runners. Timekeeping tomorrow morning - what could possibly go wrong!

Good luck with whatever you choose.

ETA: *pedant alert* parkrun is all lower case...sorry it's been drummed into us.

MarkyDGraduate in reply to folkieboater

I must spell parkrun correctly. I must spell parkrun correctly.

I must spell parkrun correctly. I must spell parkrun correctly.

I must spell parkrun correctly. I must spell parkrun correctly.

I must spell parkrun correctly. I must spell parkrun correctly.

I must spell parkrun correctly. I must spell parkrun correctly.

I must spell parkrun correctly. I must spell parkrun correctly.

folkieboaterGraduate in reply to MarkyD

Yep...that's about it 😀

If you get it wrong you're not allowed to run.....hang on, wasn't school punishment the other way round??

Mp63 in reply to MarkyD

So many people spell parkrun wrong.

If you're concerned or self-conscious about how fast you run relative to other people, it might be worth checking out results from previous parkruns before you go along as they are all very different. The people at my local parkrun are very friendly - but they are also very "runner-y" - I get around in 25-26mins and I finish about three-quarters of the way down the field.

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