Yes, I know that parkrun starts at 9am (or 9:30am if you live in Scotland or Northern Ireland), but by 11am you’ll have hopefully hear the long awaited beep of your phone as you receive your parkrun time by text. A new PB sets a completely different tone to your weekend – if you’ve set a new PB you know that you are physically improving and you feel like you can conquer the world. Here’s how to do it:
Make Your Long Run Longer Than 5k
Is parkrun your longest run of the week? No wonder you struggle towards the finish! Add an extra mile to your weekly long run until it hits 8 miles. The ideal day for the long run is Sunday but Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday are also ok. You’ll be amazed how quickly the end of 3.1 miles arrives when you’re used to running 8.
Run Faster Than Your Goal Parkrun Pace
Do a speed session at least once a fortnight where you run 5-10% quicker than your parkrun pace. If your goal is 5 minute kilometres aim to do 2x1k at between 4:30 and 4:45 pace with 90 seconds recovery. At first this will feel really difficult but you will get used to it. Add an extra rep until you can do 5x1k reps between those times. By the time you can do 5 reps at 10% under parkrun time you’ll have already smashed your parkrun PB and you’ll be setting new goals! This will work – it will make your goal parkrun pace feel unnaturally easy.
Prepare Like A Pro
If you want to run like a pro, then prepare like one. Friday night alcohol will slow you down. Can you save the drinks until Saturday when you’ll have a PB to celebrate? Set the alarm in plenty of time; you do not need the stress of hurrying to the start, it’s not worth an extra 15 minutes sleep. Give yourself time to get there and warm up properly.
Do The Math
You don’t need Rachel Riley to tell you that dividing your goal parkrun time by five is the time you should take per kilometre. It’s physiologically much easier to run at a steady pace than to go flying off at the start and then try to push your dying legs through the second half. You’ll also get that awful feeling of going backwards as hordes of people overtake you. So be disciplined until at least halfway.
Look At The People Around You
If the people around you at the start line look faster than you, they probably are faster than you, so drop back a bit. If the people around you look slower than you, then move forward. But remember that some people are idiots – they will go off too fast. However, some people are geniuses and they’ll pace the parkrun perfectly. If you can latch onto one of these people running at your sort of goal pace then stick with them and buy them a coffee afterwards! Alternatively, you could beg a quicker mate to pace you or keep an eye out for local parkruns holding pacer events. You will not believe how much easier it is when you don’t have to think about your pace.
Make your long run longer than parkrun. Eight miles is an ideal weekly long run for people racing over three
Train at faster than your parkrun pace – this way parkrun pace won’t feel like such a shock to the system
Go to bed early and sober on Friday night and get up in plenty of time
Be disciplined during the first half. Even splits will feel much easier
Try to find a pacer – either a mate, an “official“ pacer or an accidental pacer!