Are you ready to try Parkrun on the Central Coast?
Parkrun is an international sensation. It helps people to connect and get healthy all across the world. As the name implies, Parkrun is all about heading to a local park and enjoying a run. Best of all, the organisation is dedicated to being free, for everyone, forever! Started in the UK in 2004, Parkrun began as a humble, local running session. Now, it has found its way worldwide.
The idea of Parkrun is very simple; a free run of two or five km every Saturday morning in the park for anyone who wants to register and come along. That’s really all there is to it. Organisers will often help time runners so people can work to beat their personal bests but Parkrun is not a race.
In fact, you don’t even have to run if you don’t want to. Walkers are just as welcome. Head to the Parkrun Australia events page at https://www.parkrun.com.au/events/events/ and you’ll see dozens of Parkrun locations all around the country.
Where to find your local Parkrun on the Central Coast
As the popularity of Parkrun grows, so do the number of events. If you want to join a Parkrun on the Central Coast, there are several events already running.
- The Entrance Parkrun kicks off at 7 am on Saturday mornings. The event takes place at Picnic Point Reserve and organisers prefer you to register beforehand.
- San Remo Parkrun starts at 8 am on Saturdays, from Edgewater Park, 1 Narambi Rd, Buff Point. Runners gather for coffee afterwards.
- Mt Penang Parkrun happens from 8 am at Mt Penang Parklands, Kariong. Register to get a barcode and time your run.
Further afield, Port Macquarie and Wauchope have weekly Parkruns at the Breakwall and the Rocks Ferry Reserve. Multiple runs take place in and around Newcastle as well as in Forster and Taree. Take a look at the events page at the Parkrun Australia website. You’re sure to find a run near you.
Why take part in Parkrun?
Running is truly one of the best exercises you can do:
- Weight Loss: As a high-level cardio exercise, running is the single best method for weight loss when combined with a healthy diet. It may not seem like it, but running works out most parts of your body. It may feel like your legs do most of the work but running is excellent for core strength and weight loss around the middle. While you run, your abs have to work to keep you upright almost as much as your legs work to keep you moving.
- General Fitness: Nothing keeps you fit like running. The activity increases strength and stamina as well as lung capacity. Running keeps you fit and strong, which makes life easier. Imagine tripping lightly up several flights of stairs and barely losing your breath. This is what running can do for you.
- Mental Health: Exercise, in general, is excellent for your mental health and running is one of the easiest and most accessible ways to do it. A run increases your endorphin levels, leaving you with a sense of wellbeing and overall happiness. Studies have shown that exercise is beneficial to alleviate the symptoms of all sorts of mental health problems, from depression to ADHD. Even if you have no mental health problems, running will still help you feel good.
- Socialising: Parkrun on the Central Coast isn’t just about running. It is also a way to get out in nature and enjoy the company of like-minded people. You can meet friends at the finish line and compare times and techniques. Who knows, you may even make some new friends!
- Family friendly: Because Parkrun is only a short distance, you can take part with your kids or parents. Introduce the next (or the previous) generation to the joy of a morning run with friends.
How to improve your Parkrun time
Running is fun and good for you but it can also be a great personal challenge. If you enjoy a casual run and don’t care about your time that’s great, but odds are you’ll want to improve your times and your fitness as you progress. There are a few ways you can work on this between your weekly Parkruns.
- Keep Running: Just because you run every Saturday doesn’t mean that you can’t run any other time. A few runs through the week when possible will keep you on track and help you practice your technique. You can try to break your PB every time or you can run casually through the week and save your big effort for Saturday mornings.
- Hit the Gym: Do some light cardio and weight training to keep your overall fitness and stamina up. If you can join a class and do some aerobics, even better. Either way, keeping up your fitness will help you every time you hit the park.
- Don’t do TOO Much: Be careful though! If you push too hard through the week you may have nothing left to give come Saturday morning. Maintain a steady pace that suits you and you will see improvement. Remember, it isn’t a race against anyone but yourself. Slow and steady improvement is better and healthier in the long run… so take your time.
Mingara One Fitness is a great place to head to and work on your fitness between Parkruns. This premium facility has all the equipment you could need as well as many classes and programs for every level.
Join a top-notch aerobics class or work with some of the best personal trainers on the Central Coast. Mingara Aquatics also has all the pool-based facilities you need to build the best version of yourself.
How to organise a Parkrun
If there is no Parkrun near you or you know of a great park that is not being used, perhaps you can start your own Parkrun. Head to https://www.parkrun.com/about/start-your-own-event/ for all the information you will need. Remember though, organising a Parkrun will be a bit of work so you will want to have a few friendly volunteers ready and willing to help you and back you up. Once your Parkrun is underway, people are likely to flock to you to help.
Tips to reduce injury when running
Running is a healthy and natural form of exercise but done wrong it can have its risks. One of the best ways to avoid injury is to warm up. The simplest warm-up is a short, brisk walk of three to five minutes. This will prepare many of the same muscles you will use to run, as well as letting your brain know that you will be exercising.
These days, when it comes to stretching, old fashioned static stretching has been replaced. This means you don’t need to hold you leg stretched for 30 seconds anymore. It is now believed that dynamic stretching is much more appropriate to warm-up for running. Lunges, knee lifts, butt kicks and even skipping can be great dynamic stretches. Find the ones that work for you and do ten reps of each before you hit the trail.
Having the right shoes is another key to avoiding injury. Most of the other equipment for running is simple, but a good shoe is very important. A well-fitted shoe will support the unique shape of your foot and reduce strain. Light, loose clothing and a supply of water are also advised to help you stay at your best.
How to balance your running
As with so many things, when it comes to fitness, variety is the spice of life. Developing and maintaining overall fitness is best done through a variety of exercise routines. So how do you find the time to do all that you want to do?
Most of us barely have time to get the dishes done, let alone spend an hour exercising. The best thing to do is to work out what exercise you wish to do and find a way to spread it out through your busy week. Remember, to be a runner all you have to do is run. You don’t have to run every day. If you only run once a week at a Parkrun, you’re still doing better than many! Generally half an hour three times a week is a good amount for running, so your off days are there for anything else you want to do.
When you can find the time, stretch and relax your body with a yoga or Pilates session. Focused on core strength, these give you the ‘antidote’ to running your body needs. A swim also provides balance, giving you the chance to work a different set of muscles. By having a membership to a local centre, you will be more inspired to balance your run with a stretching class or swim session.
Inspiring stories to set you off on the right foot
The following runners followed their hearts and blazed a trail to motivate others to discover what’s truly possible. Take a look at some of these stories and keep these brave athletes in mind during your next Parkrun on the Central Coast.
If you feel like a 5 km run is a tough ask, spare a thought for famous Canadian Terry Fox. Fox lost a leg to cancer and became an activist for cancer research. In 1980 he set off to run the entire breadth of Canada. Sadly, due to his illness, Fox didn’t make his entire trek, but he did run for 148 days, covering a distance of 5,373 km. Fox’s bravery and commitment have been honoured with an annual run in Canada, and the population holds his memory dear to their hearts. If Fox could do that with just one leg, think what you could do with two!
Parenthood can be difficult and demanding but it doesn’t have to stop you! Kerryn Mccann took time off from her athletic career in 1999 for the birth of her son, but she came back and won gold at the 2002 Commonwealth games. Not content, she took another break to have her second child, a daughter, then came back to claim gold at the 2006 Commonwealth games.
Ben was bullied terribly at school for being gay. The persecution led to depression and failed suicide attempts before the young American had even finished college. As life took its course, he discovered running and never looked back. In 2016, he made it his mission to run 401 marathons in 401 days. To finance it, he sold his house.
During his epic runs, he burned over 2.5 million calories, wore out 22 pairs of trainers and gave 101 motivational talks to raise awareness of bullying. When he ran his 53rd marathon, he broke the Guinness World Record for the most marathons on consecutive days.
Coming in seventh in a half marathon is a decent achievement for anyone, especially if you stop at the two-mile point to sniff a dead rabbit. That’s what happened when two and a half-year-old Ludevane got out of her yard and joined a local running race. The fiesty bloodhound even stopped to play with some cows and gamble in a stream but stuck to her guns and finished in the top ten in the Alabama competiton.
Ginette Bedard started running in 2001 and fell in love with the sport. She now runs 10 miles a day and regularly participates in marathons. The catch is that in 2001 she was 68. This means that Bedard is now an octogenarian and one of the oldest marathon runners in the world. If you think you might be too old to start running, just think of Ginette Bedard!
Too cold to run?
If it is too cold to run outside, consider joining the Mingara One Fitness gym to run on the treadmill. You can also book some personal training sessions or improve your overall fitness condition by doing more swimming at Mingara Aquatics.