Parkrun: Looking for advice - how early on in... - Couch to 5K

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Looking for advice - how early on in the process is too early to start doing parkrun?

My next session is w2,r2 - I’m well aware that I’m a very long way away from being able to complete the whole 5km running, but wondering if I followed the c25k app for the start of a parkrun and walked the rest that it might be good for motivation? Thoughts?

21 Replies

Depends entirely on your personality. During the summer months we have folks that walk 100% of the way around ours (not so much in the sub-zero winters). It's great! You can check your local Parkrun results to see what the finish times are like, and if you can stay disciplined and stick to the program, it's certainly an option. If you do go, it's very easy to get caught up in the fast start, so you might even like to start with the warm-up walk.

Some folks start earlier than they should though, in that they feel demoralized and deflated if they are coming near last, and feel self-conscious, like they are holding the tailwalker up. For myself, when I was coming back from injury this year I waited until I was at about week 5 again. I did this because my personality would make me gung-ho to run more than I should, and the last thing I wanted was to get benched again with another injury.

Some people like to volunteer first, and some folks like to do some trial runs around the route so that they know how much they'd be covering with their runs.

Whatever you decide, happy running.


If you can walk 5km then you can do it. Don’t need to run, just get a feel of the place and meet people. Parkruns are very welcoming places


It’s never to early to try parkrun! If you’re not sure go along and just watch or volunteer, (it only exists because of volunteers) you don’t have to run 5k, yes the course is 5k, you don’t have to do it all, you can walk, run, skip, hop, whatever you like.

Best invention ever, my only regret is I didn’t go sooner! I made the big error of thinking I ‘had’ to be able to run 5k, not true!

I love parkrun, #loveparkrun

Do it, do it, do it, do it! 👍😄



I did a parkrun at W6R1. Just follow the podcast and walk the rest. Don't be tempted to keep up with everyone else. But above all else, enjoy it


Bear in mind that you are very unlikely to be running 5k by the end of the programme. Despite the name, that's not what it is designed to do.

The experiences from the forum seem very, very mixed... and my hunch is that someone who is already on about it at W2R2 *might* be at the gung-ho, in a rush end of the spectrum. But it is really more about your personality and the vibe of the particular Parkrun than about whether it can or can't be done whilst you are still doing the C25K programme, people certainly do.

There are some great suggestions about checking times and routes.

WhatsappGraduate in reply to GoogleMe

I think it is entirely possible you could be running 5k by the end of the programme. I was.

Irish-JohnGraduate in reply to Whatsapp

We had a Survey last year among the Graduates.

You would have been among the less than 10% who graduated on time/with distance. :)

WhatsappGraduate in reply to Irish-John

... of those who responded to the survey. And yes it was a positive survey to show those who are struggling that there are many others in the same boat. However, to tell somone who you know nothing about, that they are "very unlikely to be running 5k by the end of the programme", I felt was a bit negative, so I added my comment to offer balance, rather than attack the poster for their opinion.


If you wish to go... then go... do your allotted run and then walk the rest... walk.... don't be carried away by the great feeling of the day :)

lyndamoragGraduate in reply to Oldfloss

Have you done one yet

OldflossAdministrator in reply to lyndamorag

No ☺ I need a small one..and a chum to run with..😉

As long as you are happy to still follow the podcast, sticking to your run, then soak up the atmosphere and enjoy. There are always people who walk the 5k and a volunteer who will stay with the last person.


The very first parkrun I did was W1 D2 of C25K :) - from then on I did a day per week of C25k at parkrun. It is NEVER too early to enjoy parkrun.

lyndamoragGraduate in reply to Bazza1234

You got me going to parkrun , I am on my 65th and also volunteered around 10 times tailwalking so know that anyone can do it, at their pace, no worries about being last. Best think I ever did, met great people.

lyndamoragGraduate in reply to lyndamorag

If I can go on my own , so can you. You soon get friends there that you get to see every Saturday morning.

Thanks for all the advice - I’ve checked out the times for my local parkrun and finishers range from 18mins to 54mins .... I’m assuming that’s crazy fast run to fast walk.

My biggest worry was in being the one that slowed everything down, but looking at the website it really is all about taking it at your own pace and finishing how you want to.

I think I’ll go and check it out when I can - if I walk the first one I’ll get to learn the route and meet a few of the people.

runswithdogsGraduate in reply to lizmaple

Don't worry about being the one to slow everyone down. I often volunteer for tailwalker, and I love the slower weeks. I wish more walkers came out to put more results on the board in that direction to further encourage more people to take part. If people wanted to finish fast they wouldn't have volunteered.


it’s a lovely atmosphere when you go so may be really helpful. As long as you’re not tempted to do too much.


I suppose it depends on what kind of motivation you're seeking. At this time of year, beginners and other slower/older participants are fewer in number. So, depending on your fitness levels you're likely to find yourself at or near the back of the field throughout. Also if the parkrun you decide to visit is a multi-lap course you could well be lapped by some of the runners. Could you cope with that? On the other hand, your source of motivation might come just from being around other runners. If that's the case then go for it.

I suggest that you wait till week 5/6 before attempting a full parkrun. You'll get more out of it and be in a much better position to run a substantial part of the course. In the meantime you could go along as a volunteer or a spectator to get a feel for things.

Whatever you decide to do, you'll certainly receive a warm welcome from the other runners and volunteers.

My other suggestions are: get there in plenty of time for your first visit, even if you know the location. Carefully read the course page on the parkrun website. Check whether your chosen parkrun holds a new runners briefing and make sure to attend. Lastly, don't forget your barcode!

Good Luck!!!

runswithdogsGraduate in reply to Michael_W

Good point about the laps. At mine often people only do one lap and then don't take a token at the end. That's an option to ease in too.


It’s very much up to you when you try it - whilst you will probably get more out of it after you have graduated, there’s no reason why you can’t do it sooner subject to being sensible about how much and how fast you run. A few pointers from a veteran of almost 100 parkruns in quite a lot of venues.

1. Parkrun courses vary quite a lot, surface, terrain, degree of difficulty, user group. If the parkrun uses a route you already know, then great. If not, please make sure you know what you are taking on. As an example, my home parkrun takes place on a wide, flat seafront promenade. It’s popular with walkers, families, people with prams, we even have a wheelchair user some weeks. Yet one less than 12 miles away is a serious hilly trail run, doable only by experienced runners. So research the course, the age range and finishing times of finishers, and walk the course and go to watch the event before you try it .

2. Parkrun is very much about inclusivity, that’s why the volunteers at the back are now called tail walkers not tail runners. They won’t worry they are being held up, they will be delighted to make sure you get round if you happen to be at the back. If you are thinking of walking the first 5 minutes, seek them out before the start and let them know, otherwise they may not pick you up.

3. Treat it as an opportunity to meet other people. At most parkruns there are lots of first timers each week, many of whom may also be feeling uncertain.

4. Thank the volunteers!

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