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West Coast Parkrun Singapore

Updated: Jan 30


West Coast Parkrun Singapore

Before I explain why I enjoyed and what I gained from my first Parkrun, Singapore's West Coast Parkrun, I feel that I have to explain why I have avoided doing one for so long. Firstly, I detest running in the morning, I am an avowed evening runner. Secondly, I don’t like group runs. Bah humbug!


Those two issues now addressed, what promoted me to join a Parkrun, an organised 5km morning run? Firstly, I thought that joining a Parkrun would allow me to discover a new running experience. To get out of my local comfort zone, to enjoy shared running experiences even if not as part of a mass participation event. Secondly, Parkrun has been a massive success at introducing and motivating people to run, to improve their health. So it would be interesting to see what all the positive reviews are about.


Singapore has 3 Parkruns: West Coast, Bishan (central) and East Coast. I called on the support of an old friend, and regular park runner, who could introduce me to the scene and we fixed a date to run together.


As always, we advise that if you are considering changing your diet, exercise or lifestyle practices, please discuss plans with your primary medical practitioner before making any changes.

 

7.30am Flag-Off


I’m fine with getting up early but running early has never been something to enjoy. Having got my arse to West Coast Park by 7.10am, I immediately received a good omen: 2 magnificent hornbills flew over me and landed in a nearby tree.


As a first timer, prior to the run, I was reminded to bring my registration bar code. Easily enough downloaded onto my phone and later scanned onsite. This allows you to receive your official timing. Soon enough I met my friend and his other running buddies, they had made a group outing from Bishan Parkrun to check out the West.

West Coast Parkrun Singapore

We were duly inducted into the local group, about 60 pax in total. A mixed group of single runners, friends and families. Even 2 tourists joined in. After a general event and safety brief, we went to the start line.


The Run


Those wanting to run fast put themselves at the head of the pack, everyone else formed up to the rear. Within a minute or so we were off. It takes me 10 minutes to warm up, so we gently jogged until my blood started to flow and we could stretch our legs. I was a little surprised to see how fast a pace most other runners set off at, although we did over take quite a few in the second half of the run.


It was nice to run around the sprawling park, in the cool morning drizzle, sharing the path with bemused dog walkers and other park users At key points on the meandering route an occasional volunteer guide, in a Parkrun bib, pointed us in the right direction.


What caught me by surprise was that during the second half of the run we picked up the pace considerably, faster than my normal easy run. Partially due to natural competitiveness between old running friends but more, I believe, to see how we fared running together at a faster pace. By the end of the run, no longer chatting, we were running at a sustained effort. While we weren’t looking to have a fast run, it turned into one. Surprisingly, my heart rate was in Zone 5 for the second half of the run, more in keeping with a hard workout than my usual easy running.


Then, seemingly no sooner than we started, the 5km was over. After that, a few photos, handshakes and farewells. The tradition is to make for the nearest spot for a coffee, so we made straight for a local hawker to enjoy a kopi.

 

Despite the early hour, I really enjoyed my first Parkrun. Well organised (all by volunteers), a nice sense of community. The run itself is what you want to make of it, fast or slow. I am certainly considering going again, perhaps to check out the Bishan and East Coast Parkruns.


For someone who finds it hard to exercise or is just starting to run, a Parkrun provides great opportunity and motivation, to help get you up and out running. The organising team were friendly and encouraging but without any over the top rah-rah that some events can have.


The experience taught me several useful lessons. That organised runs don’t have to be the massive, jostling events that I have not enjoyed in the past. The run was a nice way to meet and speak to some fellow runners, older and younger.


I also gained the experience of running in a different way, alongside a partner, not quite a race but certainly being pushed to perform. This has made me rethink why I run and, restarted a conversation with myself to perhaps set a time, distance, race goal in the near future. To provide some focus, other purpose, for the training that I already enjoy.


Stay Healthy


Alastair


Ps. Want to take part in a Parkrun?

 

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