The other day megachurch pastor and health freak Bill Hybels tweeted, “I wonder why so few leaders take their physical conditioning seriously when it dramatically improves their concentration and energy levels?” Well, I’m training for a marathon, and I think it’s just making me tired!
This is the time of year when many people make resolutions to get in shape, go on a diet, take out gym memberships, and after a couple of weeks misery give it all up again. I think the only realistic basis for taking regular exercise is doing something that one finds in someway enjoyable; otherwise it is just a painful schlep. My marathon training is painful, yet at the same time it is something I am enjoying, which helps me to keep going with it.
One of the things that can make taking exercise more enjoyable is to do it with other people. Obviously, this applies in team sports, but for individual sports like running it can also be true. And this is where Parkrun comes in.
A Parkrun started in Poole last year, and I have taken part a few times (and between now and marathon day – 15th April, Brighton – need to be doing it every week). It is a well organised and properly timed 5k event which (unlike other well organised and properly timed events) is free to enter. Just show up, run, get your barcode swiped at the end, and your result is emailed to you within a couple of hours. I think it is fantastic. There were 241 of us running this morning, with a very wide athletic spectrum represented (fastest 16:08, slowest 45:17). This is a great example of a community event – sociable, catering for all ages and abilities, free, brilliantly administrated and fun.
There are Parkruns in many locations in the UK, and an increasing number overseas (see here for details). So, if you’re looking for that kick start to the 2012 ‘new you’, you could do a lot worse than toddle along to your nearest Parkrun.