Turbo charge your weekends in 30 minutes

Turbo charge your weekends in minutes

If you feel like you could be getting more out of your weekends (or life in general!) then this could be for you. Setting aside a 30 minute slot on a Saturday morning has transformed my whole weekend, and is now starting to have a positive effect on the rest of my week too. I feel better both physically and mentally all because of the 30 minutes I set aside every Saturday morning. All around the country runners (and people like me) meet in our local parks for a free, timed 5k Park Run. This really is one of the best organisations I have encountered this year. Here's how something so simple can really make a positive difference to your life.

It improves your overall health, fitness and wellbeing.

Well, that might sound obvious but there is something addictive about the park run, and in improving your times. You want to do better. You push yourself harder because there are other people around - it is a group effort. . All this means you are more motivated to giving your best. You might even want keep your fitness levels up with a mid week practice run...I tried this on a treadmill but my times came nowhere near what they are on a Saturday. I suspect that this is due to my competitive nature and frankly wanting to look like one of the group if other people are around. (There is research from Stanford and Oxford Universities that shows working out with someone else increases your effectiveness, and in my case it is completely true)

Also, research proves time and again that exercise is beneficial to more than just your body's health. Your mind scores a win too. Stress levels are kept in check, and there really is something about doing the run in a park, surrounded by greenery and open air, that makes you feel good. The same universities that researched performance also have evidence to show that  people who work out are more productive at work as well as a result of their exercise.

Starting is easy.

If you don't want to register you don't have to, but if you do Park Run will track your results. It's free, and they will give you a bar code to print at home that is scanned as you cross the finish line. You can search for your nearest run and simply turn up along with everyone else. When you arrive at your park there are lots of helpful people who will generally look after you. New runners have a little extra orientation so they know where to go, and everyone is very friendly. There are volunteer stewards who will help you out if you need it and give you support around the track.

I needed a lot of motivation to do this as I am not a good runner. To be honest I was dreading the first run and how I would look to everyone else (who I was convinced must be Paula Radcliffe types chortling away as I puffed two laps behind them all). That really isn't the case. There are all types of people, who run and walk in all different ways. Everyone is welcome, whether you are pushing a baby, or jogging with a dog, it's okay.

It encourages you to treat your body a little better at the weekend.

I am guilty of a weekends off attitude to healthy living. It all goes out of the window on a Friday night... glass of wine, 'treat' food (ie full of fat and carbs), late nights and no exercise until Monday. All the things that are generally discouraged in any fitness programme. The result of this is that I undo my hard work from the rest of the week and my metabolism is shot to pieces, so I end up feeling tired still. 

However, if I know I am running in the morning I do steady myself a little more. Running in the morning after a heavy night is not nice at all, so although I still do relax and unwind, I am a little more moderated. Similarly afterwards I just can't punish my body too much as I feel it deserves looking after (yes, I know it sounds weird but true).

It makes you feel really good.

I have at least three really positive feel good moments on a Saturday from doing a Park Run. When life is hectic and stressful the difference this makes is huge. Finding times that are definable positive moments helps me to keep hold of these feelings when things are getting pressured.

First is the immediate adrenaline and endorphin rush at the end of the run.... I made it!!! I can't help smiling at this point. Even if I have been overtaken by two women who are pushing babies in prams I'm happy for me. Later my run time is emailed and I get to see how I did. Recently I've been putting in pretty respectable times so I've been feeling pretty good about how I'm doing (it helps that my personal best improved for three weeks on the bounce). Seeing improvement over time is always satisfying, and there will be improvements, so there will be satisfaction. Thirdly, I am embarrassed to admit that I basically spend the rest of day in something of a smug zone after a run. The simple feeling of achievement from getting up and going out to do a run on a Saturday morning sticks around for a while!

Give it a go! You have nothing to lose, and you may find that you see some or more of these positive effects too. Let us know how you get on!

I'm signing up for a 5k Park Run this Saturday with @petitepassions blog #feelinggood #fitness

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Welcome to Sewing and Other Stories; my journeys with sewing and knitting; pattern reviews, tips and guides for beginners. I'm also the designer behind West Beach Knits knitting patterns and I host a Knitting and Sewing channel on YouTube where you can see all of this in person. Come have a look!

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