We asked the Parkrun world record holder how to make running enjoyable this winter
When the weather’s still cold and the days seem short, it’s harder than ever to even entertain the idea of running for pleasure – but one particularly good runner knows a thing or two about making it enjoyable.
Andy Baddeley is an Olympic finalist and the Parkrun world record holder, having smashed the previous best time with his effort of 13 minutes 48 seconds in 2012 – here’s what he thinks makes running appealing.
Goals are very important
Setting and achieving goals can really give you a feeling of satisfaction, and running offers a great means for smashing your personal targets – although as Baddeley points out, it’s not all about personal bests.
“It’s definitely therapeutic, and it’s rewarding,” he says. “Goals are very important, regardless of the level you’re aiming at. Sometimes it’s great to run just for the hell of it, for the enjoyment and freedom.
“But that means that perhaps one of your goals should be to go running when you feel a certain way, or to make sure you run before an event (work, or family) where you want to make sure you’re fully present.”
Routine is good
Running is a great way to keep a routine going as well as helping you feel like you’re achieving something with your day – something Baddeley says he struggled with when experiencing injury.
“Running has always been a release for me, and where I can often do my best thinking,” he says. “But more importantly, and more so than for others, running has always defined my routine and timetable.
“I found lack of routine to be one of the most debilitating parts of being injured, as I was often at a loss as to what I should be doing.”
Run with music
Is it better to run with or without music? That question surely ranks as one of the all-time great debates – even for an Olympic finalist.
“I never do intervals with music as I like to focus,” says Baddeley. “But I often run to music on my steady runs. Particularly if I’ve had a niggle or injury, music stops me from obsessing about every step I take and helps me to relax.”
Run with others
Running might seem like a predominantly solo sport but there’s nothing to stop you running with others. In fact, it might be that a communal run is exactly what you need, as Baddeley explains.
“I’ve spoken openly about not always enjoying the solitary aspect of running and I definitely enjoy it most when I’m running with friends and team mates.”
Baddeley continues: “It also makes you answerable to someone. You’re meeting them and they’re relying on you to turn up. So when it’s raining, or cold, or you’re tired (which is always!) – then you can’t let them down.”
Take it one step further and try Parkrun
If you’re looking for a group to run with, Parkrun might be for you. Every week in parks across the country, people run 5km distances together for free, with their times recorded by organisers and volunteers. Baddeley’s a big fan.
“It’s a community,” says Baddeley. “It’s that simple. I’ve never been to a more welcoming or inclusive sporting event. There are no egos, just people giving their time for others and people with individual goals and ambitions, whatever they may be – and no judgment.
“They make their events accessible, free, and people don’t just disappear off afterwards. You are warmly welcomed before every run, and you know that people will hang around to chat or have coffee afterwards.”
So is that a recommendation from Baddeley to get out there and start running this winter?
“Yes! Organise to meet someone or a club and get involved,” he says. “The easiest way to meet like-minded people for free is at Parkrun, and I can’t recommend it enough.”