If you’re thinking about going to your first park run but feeling a bit uneasy, don’t panic. You’re not the only one. It’s common for beginners to feel a little nervous before their first parkrun. However, there’s no need to be anxious. Parkrun is open to everyone, regardless of their fitness level, and they’re designed to be accommodating and inclusive.

Parkrun events take place at various locations across the UK at 9 a.m. on Saturday mornings.

These free, weekly 5km runs are not only a fantastic opportunity to engage in physical activity but also a wonderful chance to connect with your community. Parkruns are much more than just a run; they are a celebration of fitness, friendship, and personal achievement.

One of the greatest advantages of participating in a parkrun is the opportunity to run alongside others who share your passion for fitness and well-being. Whether you’re an experienced runner or taking your very first steps in the world of running, parkrun offers a supportive and friendly environment where you can enjoy the thrill of crossing the finish line together. So, if you’re eager to kick-start your weekend with a dose of outdoor exercise and a sense of camaraderie, your local parkrun is the perfect place to be.

To help you relax and set aside any nerves, we’ve put together some useful advice for your first parkrun.

parkrun tips

Register online in advance – don’t forget your barcode!

Before your first parkrun, make sure to register through the official parkrun website. The registration process is free and easy to complete. By registering, you will secure your spot and receive a personal barcode that you can use to record your finish time. You only need to register once since it’s a one-time process.

Arrive early

On the day of your parkrun, it’s a good idea to arrive early. This will give you ample time to find parking, (some locations are popular and can get really busy), get familiar with the event area, and meet some of the other participants. The parkrun community is incredibly friendly, and arriving early allows you to soak up the supportive atmosphere.

Dress comfortably

Wear comfortable athletic clothing and appropriate running shoes. Don’t feel pressured to invest in high-end gear for your first parkrun; just make sure your attire is suitable for the weather conditions and that you feel comfortable in.

Don’t compare yourself to others

The great thing about parkrun is that it’s inclusive, so everyone can take part. It’s important to keep in mind that you’re there to challenge yourself and not to compete with others. Your journey is unique, so concentrate on your own progress instead of worrying about who crosses the finish line first. No one comes last at parkrun – that’s the role of the volunteer tailwalker!

Listen to the first timers’ briefing

This welcoming chat provides essential information about the event, including the course layout, potential hazards, and challenges. It’s also an excellent opportunity to ask questions and connect with fellow first-timers. The parkrun community is committed to making everyone feel welcome and informed, so make sure to attend on time and participate in the discussion.

Start slow

At the beginning of the run, start at a comfortable pace. It’s common for beginners to get caught up in the excitement and sprint off the starting line, only to feel fatigued later on. Aim for a pace that allows you to enjoy the experience and finish strong.

Follow the course and volunteers’ guidance

Parkruns are well-organised, with clear markers and volunteers along the route to guide you. Pay attention to the course and any instructions given by the volunteers. They’re there to help and ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable run.

Embrace the community

One of the most rewarding aspects of parkruns is the sense of community. Don’t hesitate to strike up conversations with fellow participants, especially if you’re feeling nervous. You’ll likely find that parkrunners are incredibly supportive and willing to share their experiences and advice.

Celebrate your first parkrun 

As you enter the finish funnel, take a moment to savour your accomplishment. Whether it’s your first or hundredth park run, every finish is a victory. Don’t forget to have your barcode scanned to receive your official time so you can track your progress over time.

Reflect and set goals

After your first parkrun, take some time to reflect on your experience. What did you enjoy most? What challenges did you face? Use this reflection to set goals for your future park runs. Whether it’s improving your time or simply enjoying the experience more, setting goals can help you stay motivated.

Come back for more!

Finally, don’t let nerves hold you back from future parkruns. The first one is always the hardest, but with each run, you’ll gain more confidence and become a part of a supportive and encouraging community of park runners.

Keep in mind that everyone has to start somewhere, and parkruns are meant to be open and inviting to all. Remember these helpful suggestions, appreciate the process, and always remember to enjoy yourself. We can’t wait to see you at the next parkrun!