It’s Free!!

Life seems meaningless, everything is bleak, and you have a complete existential dilemma over the complete pointlessness of your chosen career path……. It comes down like a thick fog, disconnecting the brain from the eyes and hands. Work slows to a halt, concentration dwindles and yawns are half hidden. The natural body clock is saying, “Sleep, now!” It may be healthier to have a second sleep in the afternoon to avoid “the post lunch slump”. But there’s work to be done. Luckily Coffee usually sorts it out, and it’s even better when it’s free – stamp number 10 on the loyalty card…….. Jackpot! We love getting bits and pieces for free. It doesn’t matter about the previous 9 coffees that had to be bought to get it, the fact remains that it was free and that is a feeling like no other!

We hate standing in lines, and yet we queue up in twisting, crawling huddles in order to collect free giveaways. It doesn’t really make sense. Why are we willing to wait provided the result is something we don’t have to be pay for? In fact we tend to be drawn towards freebies, regardless of its economic value. Most transactions have an upside and a downside, but when something is FREE we forget the downside. FREE gives us such an emotional kick that we may perceive the good or product on offer as more valuable than it really is. People appear to believe that availing of something for free not only decreases its cost but also adds to its benefits (Shampanier et al., 2007). This is the reason that even a run of the mill flat white —so long as it’s free—may seem like the most delicious coffee you’ve ever had.

But it’s not only free coffees we hanker after, its free running events too, proven by the success of the parkrunparkrun. The first parkrun in the Republic of Ireland started in Malahide Demense Castle and Gardens on the 10th November 2012. It continues to be a revelation spreading throughout the country with 89 locations nationwide. Parkrun is a non-profit running movement founded in south-west London in October 2004 by Paul Sinton-Hewitt – a runner who when forced to stop running due to a knee injury turned to organising a timed 5km run for 13 friends in Bushy Park, west London. There were no signs, no race numbers and no fees, or minimum time required. The concept exploded and there is held in 21 countries throughout the world with nearly 4  million registered runners.

The success of parkrun can not only be attributed to the fact it is free but rather to its simplicity and convenience (official sponsorship deals make it possible for parkrun events to be free). The model is the same as it was in 2004; runners of any ability register online, turn up at their park, and run. A diverse mix of children, walkers and runners take part, even buggies and dogs are welcome. Particular features of the parkrun encourage participation -including the ease of access, the inclusive ethos, achievement opportunities, social support, and the locations (Stevinson et al., 2015). Parkrun is attractive to non-runners, with women, older adults and overweight people well represented (Stevinson & Hickson, 2014). But professional runners, including the likes of Mo Farah, make an occasional appearance. The reality that national and international-standard athletes frequently turn up for their local parkrun proves how well the events are organised. After the run each competitor is emailed their results, which are then recorded on a public permanent webpage where a history of all their runs can be seen.  Free T-shirts are awarded after passing the 50 and 100 parkrun milestone. Be warned, just like the trend caused by coffee shop reward cards, the need to get your parkrun “card” stamped may become obsessive (Kivetz et al., 2006) 

NOTE: Local Parkruns

Naas (Naas Racecourse)

Celbridge (Castletown)

Russbrough House




Johnson M. (1990). Sleep and Alertness: Chronobiological, Behavioral, and Medical Aspects of Napping. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry 53, 92-92.


Kivetz R, Urminsky O & Zheng Y. (2006). The Goal-Gradient Hypothesis Resurrected: Purchase Acceleration, Illusionary Goal Progress, and Customer Retention. Journal of Marketing Research 43, 39-58.


Shampanier K, Mazar N & Ariely D. (2007). Zero as a Special Price: The True Value of Free Products. Marketing Science 26, 742-757.


Stevinson C & Hickson M. (2014). Exploring the public health potential of a mass community participation event. J Public Health (Oxf) 36, 268-274.


Stevinson C, Wiltshire G & Hickson M. (2015). Facilitating participation in health-enhancing physical activity: a qualitative study of parkrun. Int J Behav Med 22, 170-177.



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I qualified with an Honours degree in Physiotherapy from Trinity College Dublin in 2004. Since graduating I have worked in St. James Hospital Dublin and have worked in all the areas of speciality within the hospital including cardiorespiratory, orthopaedics, rheumatology, care of the elderly, neurology, burns and plastic surgery among others . I have also completed a post graduate certificate in acupuncture in UCD 2009. The Physiotherapy Department in SJH has strong links with Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and I have supervised undergraduate and postgraduate physiotherapy students on practice placements and also delivered lectures on the undergraduate academic programme in TCD. I have a keen interest in all sports and currently plays with Cill Dara RFC 1st team squad, and Milltown GAA. I have previously worked as Physiotherapist to Co. Carlow Senior GAA Team, Milltown GAA, Leinster Junior Rugby Team and Cill Dara RFC. I am an experienced runner and competed in the Dublin City Marathon in 2002. I continue to participate in running events and multisport disciplines such as Gaelforce West, Gaelforce North and the Motivate Challenge. I have a particular interest in strength and conditioning. I utilise this knowledge of resistance training in the treatment of his clients. I am committed to continuous learning and development in order to ensure the optimal level of care is offered to my clients, and with this in mind I am currently undertaking a certification in Strength and Conditioning (CSCS) with the NSCA.

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