Alison and Matthew do Parkrun
29 April 2017

Highbury Fields is an open space about a minute's walk from Highbury & Islington station. This Parkrun involves running five laps around the outside of the park. 235 runners took part this week.

This was my first Parkrun! Between you and me, I actually hate running. In fact, I hate most forms of physical activity and all sports (except chess). However, Matthew can be very persuasive and that is how I found myself at Highbury Fields before 9am on a Saturday.

I would normally be in bed at this time.

The very, very few runs I have done by myself lasted for no longer than a mile and took at least 13 minutes each. I thought, since this was the closest thing to a proper run I had ever done, I would aim for 12 minutes-a-mile and an overall time of 36 and a bit.

Lining up with lots of other people was very exciting. Some were wearing exciting looking T-shirts that said "London Marathon Finisher" and "IronMan Top 3". I stayed towards the back of the group and loaded a Taylor Swift album on my phone (Speak Now for those of you interested).

You have to run 5 laps around the park and then into the park to finish. I forgot to count for at least the first 3 laps, until some super fast people who had lapped me finished. Fortunately, Matthew caught up to me and told me I only had one lap to go!

Finishing was the best feeling ever. I had never got a runner's high before but I did today. I don't know if it was the buzz of half of Islington running together or if I just really like running laps, but I had a massive smile on face. I am still not the fastest runner but I was really pleased with my time. I had run a lot faster than I had planned, managing an average pace of 11:26min/mile.

Thank you for dragging me out with you, Matthew!

This was my third Parkrun, but my first with Alison, so the blog starts here. I've been running for a few years now, and have completed three half marathons. As longer distances have been my thing, my running pace is quite slow, so I decided to start running Parkrun regularly to speed up my 5k time, as well as to encourage me to train more often. And it only took 3 weeks to convince Alison to join me!

On the way to Highbury, Alison and I were talking about how fast we were each expecting to run. I worked out that, as the course is five laps around the park, I should expect to just lap Alison twice as I was approaching the finish.

So the race begins, and I run the first few laps. My legs are aching more than usual, and I realise that I can't see Alison ahead of me, even though I should've lapped her by now. Then I'm worrying that I've been running much slower than I should be; or my running app is broken; or has Alison given up to sit in the park?

Finally on the first turn of the final lap, I see Alison on the straight ahead of me. I just catch her up as I reach the finish (it's lucky I did, as she'd forgotten to count her laps).

When I looked at my time at the finish, I realised that I had been running at the pace I wanted, I'd set a personal best, and the reason I'd not lapped Alison twice was because she was running so much faster than she'd planned.

Thank me for dragging you out with me, Alison!

Tags: London, UK

Parkrun is a weekly free timed 5km run. They take place all over the UK. We like running them and are trying to run every Parkrun in London.

About us

Alison is an interrupted medical student at King's College London. She runs a book blog at

Matthew is a PhD student studying maths at University College London. He blogs about maths and posts puzzles at

Parkruns in London3 / 47
Parkruns in the UK3 / 415
Alison's PB35:10
Matthew's PB26:53

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