AN INTERVIEW WITH PARKRUN FOUNDER, PAUL SINTON-HEWITT | APRIL 2017
It’s amazing, what you have achieved with Parkrun - How did you come up with the idea?
I started parkrun as a means to make sure I saw my friends every week. I had recently suffered multiple set-backs in my life and one of these meant I could not run. Meeting my running friends was most important as they helped me face tomorrow. The running was the means to ensure I saw them weekly.
Has exercise always been a part of your lifestyle?
Yes, rght from an early age I found that running centered me. It helped me manage the highs and lows making it easier to deal with the stresses in daily life. I started running at secondary school and never realy stopped.
We love that you’re inspiring anyone and everyone to give running a go. What’s your top tip for a complete novice?
There are so many people who say “I cant run”. They usualy have a list of excuses starting with “I hate it as I was forced to run at school” to ‘I’m a ball sports person – running is not for me”. What I have discovered is that everyone can run. Many people who previously said they can’t run eventually find out that running is the best sport for maintaining weight, for building fitness and for strengthening good solid and meaningful relationships. They also discover that as we get older and as playing football become impossible, running is simple even if it is hard.
How many parkruns have you competed to date?
326 as of this weekend. I have done these at 160 different events
Where is your favourite place to run and where is the best place you have ever run?
My favourite place to run is probably in Bushy Park, Teddington. It's a deer park with a circumference of about 7 miles. It is an easy place to run but is still very interesting allowing you to commune with nature.
My most interesting running experience was at the Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town.
How do you fuel yourself for a run?
Normally I don't bother with feuling for a run. If the run exceeds 10 miles then I might look to drink water. Obvioulsy, if you are running a matahon or more then you need to be a bit more careful about your nutrition & rehydration plan.
Is running your main form of exercise?
Running is not just my main for of exercise but its also my time for meditation, for mindfulness and problem solving. It can also be one of the most pleasurable moments in a day.
What’s your best advise for avoiding running injuries?
Run slower more often. Most runners think they have to run to optimum most of the time. Even when the plan calls for a slow run, they will often run too fast. If I could change one thing about my running past it would be to restrict performance sessions to twice or less a week depending on how many runs you do in a week.
Do you ever lack the motivation to lace up your trainers and get outside. If so, what do you do to counteract this?
Yes, I do. Often this is the body just telling you to take a break. My focus is to stay fit, keep running for the rest of my life. As I have had a fair share of injuries in the past, I am more careful to not overdo my training these days. Taking a break is often as important as getting out for a run. On days like that a walk will do just fine.
Here at OPUS we are big on tracking our workouts and progress. Do you track your runs? If so, what piece of kit do you use?
Yes, I use Garmin. I like tracking but I don't study every aspect of my performance. Its important to have a record but I mostly want to enjoy the experience. These days, I might not look at my watch even in a race.
Who do you look up to in the industry, whether it’s a runner, athlete or sporting professional?
There are many individuals that I admire for many different reasons. My collegues at parkrun are so inspirational. We're always setting different challenges and trying to have some fun getting to the event. I admire them for their knowledge, passion and drive to make the world a healthier and happier place.
And finally, will you be taking on the London Marathon this year or cheering from the side lines?
I’m away during the London Marathion this year – the worlds best marathon. I’m on a cylcle holiday in Majorica. Many of my friends and thousands of parkrunners will be taking part so I will be missing one of the most exciting days in the calendar. Nevertheless, I will be with them all in spirit.
Quick fire round…
Marathon or 5km?
Best brand for running shoes?
Bushy Park or Richmond Park?
Mo Farah or Usain Bolt?
Go to meal after a run?
Pilates or yoga?
To find out more about Parkrun or to take part, visit the Parkrun website.