My first Parkrun adventures

Victoire Oh Natural Parkrun

I have finally joined the over 2 million people around the world who take part in Parkrun. Yes, over 2 million and counting! Go have a look at their website, the stats are awe-inspiring. Parkruns happen every Saturday morning at various locations across South Africa, and the world. The best part about them is that they cost nothing and are open to absolutely ANYONE. The only requirement is that you register on the website and print out your park run barcode so that your time can be recorded.

Victoire Oh Naturale Parkrun

Parkruns are about 5km and are held in parkland locations across the country. You don’t need anything else fancy for your run or walk, and yes, there are many who walk the 5km. Parkruns are an awesome way to see more of your neighbourhood, perhaps get to know some people in your local community, and of course an eco-friendly way to get some exercise. You get extra eco points if you walk, run or cycle to and from the parkrun! I am not there yet, but it will certainly be a consideration when I am fitter. If you would like more information on joining a parkrun in South Africa, visit this link.

Although I registered to participate in the Voortrekker Monument park run sometime last year, I just never managed to get out there with my family. Then there were rumours of parkrun coming to our neighbourhood in Midstream, and I was so excited. I am not much of a runner, even when I was at school, a long long long time ago, I preferred the 100m race to the cross country events. Mountain biking is definitely more my thing, but getting back into it along with my 2 kiddos is going to be a little more challenging than a 5km “jog”.

Our first parkrun was on 11 March. We were going to do it as a family, but Arnan’s competitive excitement got the better of him and he sprinted off at the start with Nico chasing after him! It worked out quite well for Amelie and I, we were able to take it at a comfortable pace. I had brought my ring sling along since Amelie doesn’t enjoy the wrap at all, and it was a life saver. I can’t imagine having to carry a 4 year old all that way without some form of support. It wasn’t the best child wearing tool, but it did the trick. Arnan and Nico “won” as Arnan likes to put it, coming in 7 minutes ahead of us. The adults did suffer slightly (ahem) afterwards, with me walking tenderly for a few days afterwards!

Here is a video that I recorded “accidentally” when I wanted to take a selfie of Amelie and I. I was really suffering, as you can hear from my breathing!

Our first Parkrun in March 2017

We were all going to do the next parkrun together again but the children were still sleeping by the time we should’ve left, so I decided to do the parkrun on my own. I was a little nervous about doing it by myself. The most awkward part was arriving by myself and then waiting for the start all alone. I decided to be brave and just stood close to two lovely ladies who were chatting up a storm together, and people watched, which is one of my favourite pastimes any way!

Victoire Oh Natural Parkrun

Another awkward thing for me is that I don’t have any running shoes. Seriously. When we go walking I wear my sandals or pumps or Cons. So besides being all by myself I was the only person there with anything other than running shoes on… Eek. It probably wasn’t an issue for anyone else though, just one of those things that is insignificant, but makes one feel like one is standing out like a sore thumb! Once the run had started all else was forgotten, the adrenaline was pumping and I managed to jog for the first 1km. Then the calf pains kicked in and I had to slow down to a brisk walk. Clearly I am not as fit as I thought I was! Although my calves ached for the rest of the walk I had a fun time. It was a great opportunity to clear the mind and just be without having to focus on anyone else. I witnessed some great camaraderie, especially the adults encouraging the children who were suffering a bit towards the end. I managed to finish the race before the 1 hour mark, and was very grateful not to have had to carry any extra weight in the sling that time!

Victoire Oh Natural Parkrun

The last parkrun we did together Nico went ahead to get his personal best time, while I stayed near the back of the pack with the kids. I decided to rather use our jogger pram for Amelie than to carry her in a sling again, which she loved of course. The problem came in when Arnan realised that he would be expected to walk the entire race instead of lying back in the pram! I had to basically drag him along for the first 2km, at which point I loaded him onto the top of the jogger and pushed both kids for the rest of the race! What a workout. I have no idea how we will continue to do these runs with our kids, I can’t carry on pushing them every time!

Victoire Oh Natural Parkrun

The last parkrun I did by myself again, as Nico had had a rough night with a bout of insomnia in the middle of the night, and the kiddos were having a Saturday morning lie-in. It was a lovely cloudy morning, the gusts of cool air definitely made the bulk of the walk very pleasant! My calves were already feeling tight by the time I reached the start, so I decided to walk the majority of the way, but jogged with heavy feet and even heavier breath for the last 1 km. This strategy worked quite well for me as I beat my personal best time by 1 minute! (It’s the small wins, right? 😉 ) And I did it all in my trusty Converse high tops! I felt much less self conscious on the day, and even saw a lady complete the run in flip flop sandals with her barefoot daughter. Really now, why do I worry so much about what people think?

Victoire Oh Natural Parkrun

So there really is no requirement for participating in the Parkrun, just go join a local run and have fun! What I love most about Parkrun is that it is an eco-friendly way to connect with your local community in a safe environment, and to get out into nature while enjoying some sun!

Have you participated in a Parkrun? I am so keen to hear stories from other parkrunners, please share them in the comments!