Friday, 16 November 2012

Is parkrun for me or my kids?

parkrun is mine! It's always been mine!

I have been running at Coventry parkrun for around 2 and a half years and it has always been me time. A time when I can really switch off after the working week and just run it all out of my system. And at that end of parkrun I have always been able to hang around and chat with my relatively new-found parkrun friends.

A Saturday morning at 9am tends to be a time when my wife and kids would prefer to take it easy or laze around in pyjamas watching Saturday morning TV. There has never been a problem with me doing parkrun, because there is never very much else to be done at that time, certainly nothing that can't wait for an hour.

But times are changing!

After the amazing success of not only getting my 8 year old son to turn up to parkrun, but also him being keen to do it, managing to run the whole way, enjoying it, and even asking to do it again next week...parkrun may not be mine for much longer. It looks like I am going to have to start sharing parkrun with my son.

So is this any great problem? I suppose I always thought parkrun would be mine. I suppose that means I thought it would be a problem for me to have to share it., But now,  faced with this prospect this week, I have given it a bit of thought and really, isn't this what I have always wanted?!

Now I get to share my love of parkrun and running with my eldest son. It can now be Daddy and son time! We can both share the experience, the challenge and the fun that parkrun has brought into my life almost each and every week for the past few years.

I have a friend at work with grown up kids and he has always told me how much he has enjoyed running with his daughter. There is no doubt that he has an even more special bond with his daughter due to their shared experiences through running.

parkrun is making "proper" running accessible to kids. The weekly challenge, but not too serious. The familiar faces. Running with friends and family of any age. The range of abilities. The fun before and after the run. A treat in the cafe. The volunteering. The challenge of attempting a new PB. The wait for the text or email. Checking the website. All these things are so attractive to our kids.

This makes parkrun so much more attractive to a child than just "going for a run". The kids at parkrun are exercising but they hardly even realise it. That, in itself, is just brilliant!

parkrun gives me the simplest way possible to instill social and exercising habits into my son's life without even having to try. Why tell him that we all need to: exercise, look after ourselves, join in, socialise, take our turn, help others and commit to things, when through parkrun I can show him and even do it with him.

parkrun is no longer just mine. It is mine to share and I am going to share it with my son whenever he wants me to, which at the moment sounds like he wants it to be a lot. No doubt there will still be times (certainly with Winter approaching) where he won't fancy it - and that's fine too.

It's a new chapter of parkrun for me, it's no longer all about me, but I think I may just enjoy this different approach even more.

I would encourage anyone to try sharing parkrun with your kids as soon as you think they are old enough.

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