So You Want to Try Parkrun?

24756997823_5bf1ca7f88_o

If relentless endorsements of my favourite Saturday morning event have finally worn you down and you’re considering joining the lovely Parkrun community, at the request of my good friend Louise, I bring you every piece of advice that my months of weekly runs have taught me. From what you’ll need to bring along, to what you should expect, allow me to be your Obi Wan…

All You Need Is…

YOUR BARCODE. When you sign up for Parkrun on the website, you’ll get your own personal barcode to print off. Print it. Take it. You’re all set. This is the only absolute necessity.

I choose to also run with my Fitbit, my iPod (in an oh-so-chic bum bag) and a water bottle. England Athletics have become much tighter on headphone restrictions at road races so bear this in mind when entering other events, but at my time of writing you are still allowed headphones at Parkrun.

Start Line Protocol

24563475910_cac1f6d0f8_o

Poole Parkrun start line

Because Parkrun events attract a lot of newbies, the start lines can be a little more chaotic than your typical road race owing to the lower level of experience.

For those less versed in start line protocol, the front of the pack will likely be your sub-18 minute runners. Chances are, if it’s your first time, you’ll be closer to the back. At my Parkrun, there are often over 600 runners, and if a 35-minute runner plonked themselves in with the frontrunners, they would get swallowed as soon as the whistle went – or they’d go off too fast in a misguided attempt to keep up. That’s not fun for you or the runners attempting to get past you. But you do also want to avoid going too far back as it can then be hard to get through the crowd. It’s about figuring out your sweet spot. Basically, don’t be afraid to assert yourself but also be considerate to other runners. If you aren’t sure where you should be, talk to the people around you and ask about their goal times – if it matches up to yours, you’re probably in the right place.

#goals

Set goals. Go out with an agenda and push to achieve whatever goal you have set yourself – whether that be long-term or short-term. It will give you a focus. And when you succeed, it feels damn good. If you’re starting from a low level of fitness, the Couch to 5k app might be the perfect way to build up to a Parkrun. You can then set out with the goal of running the whole route without stopping, and then perhaps attempt to better your own Personal Best each week.

Reward yourself with PBPs. My friend Jen introduced me to the concept of Personal Best Presents. The goals we just talked about? Once you achieve ‘em, treat yo self ™. You’ll know you’re hooked when your PBPs end up being new running gloves or a high vis jacket. Reward systems work (I’m pretty sure Supernanny will back me up here), from big treats for major breakthroughs to celebrating sticking to your training plan with a favourite meal. After a few 5ks, you will start craving the achievement of a Personal Best time – and what do Personal Bests mean? Presents!

(more…)

June Favourites

My father warned me yesterday that if I neglected my blog any longer, all of my followers would desert me. This one’s for you, Dad. Partly because I don’t want you to worry about me being forever alone and partly because Sunday was Father’s Day, so.

Upon finishing my (second) second year at university, I have mostly just spent my time doing all the chores that had built up, marathoning TV shows and running around wide open spaces celebrating temporary freedom from academia. Thankfully, I live in Bournemouth so there are lots of outdoorsy havens. To get back into my blogging groove, I thought I’d post a nice variety of favourite things. Some have helped kickstart my summer, while others were the fuel to get me there. Here are my June favourites…

Favourite Places

Poole Park, Poole

Photo 14-06-2014 09 56 39

Photo 14-06-2014 10 02 17

This lovely place is the setting for my weekly Parkrun on a Saturday morning, and it’s dreamy. You have no idea how inviting that water looks after a second lap of running around it in this heat. See that fountain in the second picture? So close and yet so far. That is what I’m thinking about as I stumble through the fourth kilometre wondering if this is it for me. It’s a beautiful park and that’s true all year ’round. Right now, though, it’s peaking. Warning: lotta lotta geese gangs.

Durdle and Diddly Door, Lulworth

Photo 16-06-2014 15 22 15

Photo 16-06-2014 15 27 45

When my parents mentioned the Jurassic Coast, I was thinking velociraptors. But a world heritage site is cool too, I guess. The highlight of this little adventure, surprisingly not the calamitous walk, was discovering that Durdle Door’s tiny little brother is, as yet, unnamed according to the map sign. I, here and now, am calling for the cute little Durdle-wannabe (top right) to be henceforth named Diddly Door. And in a thousand years, when Durdle’s worn down by the fame (and the water), there will just be Diddly left and it will no longer be Diddly. People will come from miles away and say, “Why is it called Diddly?” And it will be lost in folklore and legend. A thousand years is about right, isn’t it? I quit geography young. Rock erosion is the ‘watching paint dry’ of the natural world. I should note, this only applies to geological rocks and should not be confused with rockstars whose careers can be known to break down almost instantaneously.

Favourite Music

HAIM, still.

Basically, since I got my eager claws on Days Are Gone, the days of me listening to other things are, you guessed it, gone. However, as it’s summertime now, to shake things up a little I’m having a phase of replaying the many remixes of the singles. My favourite, which I was unable to embed, is the Cerrone Funk Remix of ‘If I Could Change Your Mind’ but the above Cyril Hahn remix of ‘Don’t Save Me’ is pretty special as well. The sister trio got me through the latter half of second year, and I can’t wait for more tour dates because I will be there will bells on. I’ll run, run, run when they call my name… Remember that time they did, though? #haimlyf

Little Mix

IMG_1130

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of seeing Little Mix live in concert when they visited my hometown. Me and my lovely friend put on our glad rags and made ourselves at home in a crowd of tweens. Let me break down some pros and cons of being comparatively elderly in terms of concert demographics. Con: the pitch of screaming was almost high enough to be off my hearing frequency, but not quite, and booooy was it loud. Pro: being taller than literally everyone else is a rarity for me, and being that we were only four rows back, I had a perfect view for the entire show! Unheard of! I think it balances out, all in all. All four members of the band were on form, killin’ it with the vocals. While the support acts wore me down a little, clearly aimed at the young’uns, I loved Little Mix.

Favourite TV

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

vlcsnap-2014-06-17-22h30m44s32

Mostly, if I’m honest, this is about these two dorks. I got into this series totally accidentally, having not cared at all about The Avengers, or any of the related films. After a couple of episodes, I was endeared by adorable, brave Science BFFs and couldn’t stop myself marathoning the series. Yes, my lack of exposure to previous MCU productions left me more sensitive to Clark Gregg’s wooden acting. Yes, perhaps I should have watched the crossover Captain America: The Winter Soldier movie before it was spoiled by the relating plot in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. But you know what, my life’s a mess! I’ll get over it.

While I am, as I mentioned, critical of Gregg’s leading role, the ensemble together is all kinds of brilliant. I don’t mind Coulson. He’s a likeable dude and the crossover is key, but I question whether his leadership of the group should equal leading the show (#Skye4lead). Agent May was badass from the word go, but was all the more interesting once fleshed out towards the first season’s end. Enigmatic Skye is delightfully quippy and I love her. Ward is now dead to me (U CAN’T HURT PUPPIES AND SCIENCE BABIES AND GET AWAY WITH IT!!!). As for Fitz and Simmons, well they’re like a Special Agent Jim and Pam. How could you not love ’em?

Favourite Things

I Just Can’t Cope-Acabana, OPI

Photo 02-05-2014 12 38 04

Just as I was struggling to cope(-acanaba) with my university stress, I treated myself to a manicure at my local beauty salon. Presented with a rainbow of choices, a smorgasbord of colour, I decided to embrace the dawn of summer and go bold with yellow. A wild choice for me. If you’re going to take fashion risks, the nails are a good place to start. I don’t think I’ve ever had so many compliments on a nail colour as when I wear this one. My mother has since treated me to the bottle, so I can bring the sunshine nails whenever I like. Be surprised if you see me not wearing this during the summer now! Yellow is my summer colour.

Daisies

Photo 02-06-2014 14 21 01

Forget June Favourites, this is a life favourite that just so happens to be every-bloomin’-where! On the left you can see young Jess, clearly in the middle of telling my mother, “See, THESE, THESE are the flowers I want on my dress pattern!” And on the right, adult Jess is narcissistically telling herself, “NAILING the daisy pattern!”. What you might not be able to tell is that in addition to daisy dress, I’m also wearing daisy headband and daisy bracelet and Daisy perfume. If it’s got daisies on it, I want it. My bank balance is going to go on one hell of an emotional rollercoaster this summer.

And with that, I will sign off my first post-Y2 blog post. This time, I promise I’ll be back v. soon.

**All images, bar the Agents of SHIELD cap, are my own.