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By Millie Dyer

Looking after our wellbeing with parkrun

2 min
Medical students smiling for photo after a run in a park

As medical students, we learn all about how important a balanced lifestyle is to our health. We also learn about the mental health benefits of having a good support network.

At Keele University, we think we have a pretty good balance between the two on a Saturday morning…parkrun! I know you’ve heard the word ‘run’, but hear me out.

If you haven’t heard of parkrun, it is a free national and international community event where you can walk, jog, run, volunteer or spectate at a 5-kilometre course. It takes place every Saturday morning at 9am across the country.

Each week, our parkrun group chat pings away with those of us who are free that weekend, and we decide which of the many local events we want to go to.

No matter if you run marathons for fun or you just want to get your steps in, everyone will cheer you on. No-one finishes last as there’s always a ‘tail-walker’ at the rear.

We have a mix of abilities in our group, and we tend to run or walk our own parkrun. We then wait for each other at the finish line to decide the next (and most important) part of the morning – where we go for coffee and cake.

We initially had a small group, but word spread, and now we have a large regular group attending each week.

This is fantastic for wellbeing and socialising with others. We’ve enjoyed doing parkrun so much that some of us will be completing them while on our elective placements, both in this country and abroad, including Australia and South Africa.

If running isn’t your thing, but you like the sound of the social element, parkrun is always looking for volunteers to help the event. Volunteering roles include timekeeping, setting up cones before the event, being a marshal and cheering on participants. There really is something for everyone. Some of our group just come for breakfast afterwards and skip the run!

The sense of achievement and community spirit achieved by 10am on a Saturday morning makes it a fantastic start to the weekend. If we have a weekend of studying planned, or meeting friends and family, we can still enjoy parkrun without it taking up the whole day.

Sometimes, with upcoming exams, the temptation to study every hour possible is overwhelming, but doing something mentally and physically stimulating can be incredibly beneficial for productivity. This is something we have all found to be true over the past few years.

As a group, we’ve become much closer due to attending parkrun and giving ourselves something other than revision and placements to talk about! It’s also a good way to mingle with students from other years and to build those important connections.

Does this sound like something you and your friends could be interested in? Find your nearest event and give it a go. We promise you won’t be disappointed.

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