Extra Time: Park Run

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Becoming a MAN v FAT member is often the gateway to more regular participation in physical activity.

It doesn’t just have to be about chasing a football around, though, and many of you pull on your running shoes to support your fitness and weight loss goals.

We head to Warrington to find out from coach Dan Edwards and assistant coach Al Robinson about how the lads get involved in the local Park Run.

What is your inspiration for getting the community involved in Park Run?
The inspiration came from our Assistant Coach, Al Robinson, looking to enhance his running progress, improve his fitness so he could play more of a part in the MAN v FAT Football world, as an outfield player.

Al took on the Couch to 5K programme in June 2022 at the gym with Jon Parr, our other assistant coach. Al quickly decided that he would like to complete a 5k outside before his birthday in early September. This is where we looked into potentially an event but stumbled upon the Park Run. In September 2022 Al, Jon and myself completed a Park Run.

After this event we were talking and after posting the pictures to our own and our clubs social media we got some interest from other members of the community, looking to see if this was a potential regular thing moving forward.

From there we built up a stronghold of Warrington members completing the park run on a weekly basis.

How did you organise it?
Organising this was easier than most things because the hard work was already done, by the ParkRun team. We just had to work out how to engage our community, and thus birthed the MAN v FAT Warrington runners/joggers WhatsApp group.

This soon populated to a very healthy number (43) and allowed people to communicate when and where members of our community would be participating each week at the local northwest (and beyond) Park Runs. 

How did you get the MAN v FAT community get involved?
We got them involved through weekly posts on our social media showcasing the amount of people we had attending the events, the various timings and showing that it was something available to all abilities as we had walkers, joggers and runners.

It was also a free event meaning it was at no additional cost to people.

Weekly posts on our socials and showing off people attaining personal bests, or just consistent improvement in times and fitness not just at the park run caught the imagination of the community. 

In what ways do you believe Park Run aids the community?
Naturally, it aids the weight loss element and people’s fitness levels as we have consistent members of the community participating in the Park Run. This also bloods more people into the runners/joggers’ group because our members were talking so highly of the Saturday mornings run.

We also saw that this weekly event facilitated more evenings where people would join together and go for runs, and it added another element of training to people’s weeks.

It has also led to people going big and completing events away from Park Run such as 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons and we also have a member of the community taking on the London Marathon in 2024.

We added another element to the Park Runs, by doing a bi-monthly Park Run social, which is where we take members of the community to the Park Run in Warrington and then afterwards, we head to a local cafe for breakfast and a chat.

It’s always a well-attended event and becomes a big part of our mental health offering at the club. We spend the morning having a good breakfast, good chat and always a good laugh. By running this bi-monthly it means we have a good space between them which keeps the event engaging and it’s never too far away for the next one.

This builds people’s networks by spending more time together and builds the community spirit as its never about each team, but our club coming together as one.

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to get involved?
Just do it! Start by looking at the Couch to 5k programme to build up some confidence in ability and basic fitness levels. Its a free app which means again no added cost.

Find a running buddy at a similar level, get together and help each other through the programme and bite the bullet for a Park Run.

Get posting on socials, firstly to generate interest amongst your community and secondly to be able to look back in the future and show off your progress.

Get your teams on board and make it a fun, interactive and community based weekly event. This will naturally help people’s weight loss and more importantly grow social networks within the club.


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