Friday, 14 December 2012

10 great things about Woodley parkrun

Saturday 15th December sees the 10th Woodley parkrun. It does not seem possible that it was 9 weeks
ago, on Saturday 13thOctober, when 148 people turned up for the inaugural run (the first runner home was parkrun show host Danny Norman in a very impressive 17:02!). Since then we have gone from strength to strength building up a core field or runners and volunteers as well as attracting a few tourists. Here, in no particular order, are my 10 favourite things about Woodley parkrun.

The friendly welcome
From the very first run it has been obvious just how friendly the parkrun atmosphere is.  Newcomers have been welcomed with open arms and many new friendships have been struck up. Whilst many runners turn up in groups, those who come alone always have someone to talk to before the run. These relationships have been cemented by the …..

parkrun breakfast
After each run we descend on the Oakwood Centre in Woodley. I am pretty sure we are setting new records for the levels of breakfast orders in there since we began and I highly recommend the bacon baguettes. The post-run socialising has been a highlight over the last 9 weeks and has really cemented the friendships that have started to grow out of parkrun. (

Our mascot, Moses
As with most parkruns we share the park with many other users. The start of our run follows a shortcut across the park. During our first run we encountered 'Moses', a local pensioner who showed no fear as 148 runners aimed right at him, parting the course with his steady route. The legend that is Moses was born.(

Mutual support
As a slower 'runner' it has been really encouraging to get support both from the public and from other runners. As I start to get lapped (it doesn't take long!) there is no end of faster runners offering words of support and encouragement. Many locals have also been vocal supporters – a personal highlight for me was watching 3 teenage girls who just happened to be in the park at the time telling every lead runner to go faster and 'have the run of your lives'.

The volunteers
Without the volunteers there would be no parkrun. All of the Woodley volunteers have played a huge part in getting this event off the ground. Many have volunteered several times sacrificing their runs for others. One of my favourites is a recent addition to the volunteer core through injury, Les. Situated on the back part of our course (next to the hotdog stand for the footballers – pretty tough to run past!) Les has for the last few weeks provided very vocal encouragement to all runners as well as a dance routine to keep us entertained.

Challenge for everyone
Whilst we have many serious runners we also have a wide range of participants of all abilitiesWe are consistently seeing 'pee-bees' week on week. For example event #9 saw 43 of the 130 participants setting new personal bests. Many of these come from the improving runners but it was great to see one of our more experienced runners Andy L finally beat the 20 minutes mark this week after several weeks of hovering just above it.

Mass participation
18,504 runners took part in parkruns last weekend. This led to me to think about the 'typical' Woodley parkrunner. I have come to the conclusion there isn't one! We seem to have every group represented from our very youngest competitors in their buggies, several very talented juniors, the 20s are well represented as are the30s, 40s and so on. Our age grade record is held by a VW65-69 with a very impressive 84.13%.  We also have had a VW75-79 and a VM75-79 running proving age is no barrier to taking part.

It's addictive nature
I turned up for the first event not really expecting for it to become a regular fixture of my life – I was wrong! Having only missed one event due to being away I now find myself driving to my work Christmas party this Friday just so I can run on Saturday. I'm also planning to run on Christmas Day at our neighbouring Reading parkrun which will lead to a new record for being up and dressed before it is time for Christmas lunch. This is true for lots of our now regulars, including a couple of ladies I spoke to at the first couple of events who said 'we might come back' and are now firm fixtures at Woodley.

The finishing line
This gains it's place on my top ten list not because when you get there it is finally over but because whatever time you take to get there you know you will have a small crowd awaiting you and cheering you on. I think this photo sums it up (

The run directors
Without the work of our core team of directors Woodley parkrun would never have started. Whilst all volunteers are important we have the vision and the enthusiasm of our directors to thank for such a great event. Kerri (event director), Stuart, Guy and Jo (and super sub Martin) have all done a great job every week with set up, briefing, encouraging and processing the results. 

parkrun registration stats this week

There is still a little time for new registrations this week, but at the time of writing and compared to the figures in my post this time last week....

Totalling up new registrations across parkrun globally, shows that parkrun has attracted a further 2,531 registrations this week, 23 more than last week.

This takes the total number of global parkrun registrations (according to my official source page on the parkrun website) up to 401,030 (up from 398,499), and breaking through 400,000 registrants in the process. That is a growth of 0.6% on last week.

Two new parkruns starting this weekend with the addition of Darlington South Park parkrun and Congleton parkrun to the parkrun family.

Malahide parkrun continues to be top of the charts in the number of new registrations category, this week adding yet another 69 new registrants so far. That is now six weeks (including before their first event) in a row that Malahide parkrun has added the most new registrations. But the table below shows that they aren't far out in front now. Amazing growth at Malahide parkrun.

parkrun events showing notable growth in registrations this week are:
Event   Total   This week   
Malahide parkrun135869
Newy parkrun195060
Richmond parkrun936357
Nahoon Point parkrun169737
Cornwall parkrun56033

No great surprises in the "largest parkrun in the world" category this week, where it is still:
Event   Total   
Bushy parkrun20978
Glasgow parkrun12336
Leeds parkrun11155
Brighton & Hove parkrun10011
Wimbledon Common parkrun9631

Brighton and Hove parkrun became the 4th parkrun event to break through 10,000 registrant this week!

And at the other end of the spectrum, but just as worthy of a mention we have (all new entries ths week!):
Event   Total   
Modderfontein Reserve parkrun1
Wimpole Estate parkrun1
Harrow Lodge parkrun6
Chelmsford Central parkrun9
Barnstaple parkrun13

Introducing a parkrun Event Director


My name is Dawn Courage and I am event director of Kingscliff parkrun. Kingscliff is on the border of NSW and QLD in Australia.

Originally a runner from the IOW in the UK, I emigrated in 2006, and had not heard of parkrun. I was member of Ryde Harriers AC and also IOW Hash House Harriers.

I discovered parkrun last year and ran at Main Beach last December after a long break from running, then found Kirra which was closest to home.

When I was a serious runner back in the 90's, I was always grateful to the time keepers, with their stop watches and pieces of paper who turned up in all weather on club nights, so I thought setting up a local event  would be a good way to give something back.

So Kingscliff was launched at the end of October 2012 and we are on #8 this week.

The course is fast and flat but at present the record is ripe for smashing at 17.02.

Can be breezy as we run parallel to the Pacific Ocean, very handy for a dip straight after on hot days. We have the "official detour" for those who want to run the return leg on the sand.

The actual course is  a straight out and back along a shared pedestrian/cycle way. We have cake every week and welcome all parkrun tourists to join us.

We are small yet perfectly formed. I ask you to like us on  Facebook

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Plotting a spring-time PB

I have previously discussed whether I am still capable of a PB and decided that it should still be possible for me to get PBs next year and for a couple more years to come.

I am now a member of a running club, I am enjoying my running and I want to give it a real go to see how fast I can be given a bit of dedication.

Firstly, what PBs am I after? Well the most important to me are:
- parkrun (5km) - I'd love to knock another 10 or 15 second off my 17:28 PB.
- 10km - It's just a logical step up from the 5km and with a PB of 36:47, I do still think it is possible for me to beat this.
Those are the two distances I have raced the most and therefore they are my best PBs. That also means they are going to be the hardest to beat, but probably the most rewarding.

And then to a lesser extent I'd also like to get a PB at:
- 5 miles - I have only done one of these (30:07), but as my club runs a 5 mile race each summer, I'll certainly do another next year and would like to improve to a sub 30 minute time. My 5km time suggest s this should be well within my capabilities. My 5km PB was run at 5:38 per mile, so for less than 2 extra miles, and with 22 seconds per mile to spare, it should be well within my capabilities.

And then I may even consider:
- half marathon - I believe that my PB is still well over 1 hour 30 minutes, and this really doesn't fit with my 5km and 10km PBs, so this is one I think I would like to address. If not next year, then sometime soon. But I think the time has come!

So now I just need to work out how I am going to go about getting those PBs in spring 2013 and beyond. I can't just say I'm going to do it and expect it to happen, I need a plan.

I have previously looked at the factors that can and can't be controlled when attempting a PB.  So now I need to work out how to address and control the factors that can be controlled.

My plan needs to take into account many things:
- Training: how often, what quantity, what type, level of intensity, which days, which time of day, how I'll fit this into my life - being realistic about when I can actually train and when I'll want to train and take time off.
- Targets: I'll need training targets and I'll need race targets. Targets focus the mind and will keep me on track.
- Injury prevention: I absolutely have to avoid injuries. With my injury history, I know that even a minor injury is likely to set me back many weeks.
- Prevent burn out: I have to make sure that I do it in an enjoyable way, don't peak too early and don't do so much that I don't want to do it or fall out with my training plan before my target races.
- Enjoyment, fun: It has to be fun. It therefore has to be varied. If I don't enjoy it I won't want to do it or do it properly.
- It MUST NOT become a chore!

So all that is left to do is to work out what training I am going o do and how to fit it in.

My next blog post on this subject will be about how I aim to fit this training into my life without annoying my wife, still seeing the kids and not affecting everything that we want and need to do as a family. Time is going to be a key factor here, so my plan will need to be inventive but realistic to work.

parkrun on Tour – The Christmas Awards Edition

Having completed my tour of new parkrun events for this year, and apologies if you waded through all 5 long parts of the tourist blog, I have decided to sum up from those I have experienced so far! If you are looking for a new parkrun to visit maybe this will help you decide, depending what you are looking for that particular parkrunday!! Please note this is all just my own opinion and is hopefully a bit of fun, though please feel free to discuss!

Fastest Course – not based on my time on the day but on how I feel I could do when fit and not running with a 7 year old!!
  1. Hull
  2. York
  3. Harrogate
Surprisingly all Yorkshire/Humberside – though I’d put Bushy close behind with Milton Keynes and Edinburgh if you catch the weather right!

Toughest Course
  1. Barnsley
  2. Dewsbury
  3. Glasgow

Honourable mentions for Roundhay and Bradford.

Friendliest parkrun

All of them so far- could not pick one not to include!

Child Friendly – for either running or facilities on site, bearing in mind my boy is now just 7!
  1. Huddersfield
  2. Barnsley
  3. Pontefract

Best Café

  1. Milton Keynes- fantastic sausage sarnies and coffee
  2. Bushy – full English, expensive but worth it!
  3. Huddersfield – literally as you fall over the finish line!
Honourable mentions – Leeds, Bradford for Nick the Frothy Coffee Man, Dewsbury.

  1. Huddersfield
  2. Huddersfield
  3. Huddersfield

  1. Wythernshawe
  2. Colwick
  3. Harrogate

My favourites – courses to run
  1. Milton Keynes
  2. Colwick
  3. Conkers

Least favourite – courses to run
  1. Barnsley – the constantly varying gradient up each long hill is too tough for me!
  2. Braunstone – no particular reason it just was non-descript. Lovely people though…
  3. York – very flat and fast, almost oval so no landmarks and I’m afraid I’m not fast enough to appreciate it, I like scenery!
Apologies to the event teams but please appreciate this is based on running the course not the parkrun experience!

My favourites – whole experience
  1. Milton Keynes
  2. Huddersfield
  3. Bushy
  4. Glasgow
  5. Conkers

Now this is obviously all just in my opinion, and based on only 20 different parkruns but I hope that some of you will contradict me and give me somewhere else to add to my list to try! At the moment that list says “as many as possible” so anything that can make the decision easier is appreciated!

If you would like to see any other categories included (Parking/toilet facilities etc) included in these leave me a comment!!

So far in 2013 we have planned trips to:

12th Jan Burnage
26th Jan Malahide
23rd Feb Faelledparken
25th May Falkirk
1st Jun Camperdown

But I am sure that will grow before long!!!

See you at a parkrun soon!

It's too cold to run fast!

"It's too cold to run fast!"
Well that is what I would have said had you asked me before I went out on my lunchtime run today.

As it turns out, the honest truth is that it is far too cold to run slowly!

It must have been at least a couple of degrees below zero out there. The frost hadn't cleared since last night, cars were still iced up, the grass was white, walkers were looking at me as though I must be mad (I was looking at them thinking, "it's too cold to walk!"), the paths were glimmering and glistening with little ice crystals and the ponds and puddles were well and truly iced over. It was very cold. Too cold to run slowly!

With a Nativity to attend this afternoon, I was fortunate enough to get an extra day working from home today. But with the nativity in mind, I could only spare half an hour or so for my lunchtime run. I dressed up sensibly for the cold: two long sleeve tops, long running tights, thick gloves and a thick hat. I have to say I was still cold right from the start and that really didn't change.

I normally wouldn't risk running quickly in weather like that. I find it far too risky with my history of muscle injuries, but today I daren't run slowly for risk of freezing solid! I knew it would be a quick one when I arrived at the parkrun start line about 30 seconds quicker than I ever have before. A quick stretch and I was off for the one and only parkrun freedom run I had time for today. It was too cold to stand still for long!

It was bound to be a quick one and I suspected it would be close to my 20:08 of last week. That was my second quickest parkrun freedom run this year. I have actually only gone below 20 minutes once all year during a freedom run.

I was running and breathing quickly, and although not struggling with the pace, I knew it was pretty quick for a training run. At the 1 kilometre mark I glanced at my watch and saw 3:40. That's 18:20 parkrun pace, which is pretty ridiculous for me. But I was still so cold and there was no way that I was going to slow down and risk freezing to death!

At the half way point the time was 9:20, so I was still on for a very fast 18:40 parkrun. At this point I started to wonder what my fastest ever parkrun freedom run was. I knew I had only just dipped under 20 minutes this year, so I was bound to get my fastest of the year, I also knew I had gone under 19 minutes a couple of years ago, but I had no real idea of my fastest. Not that I was going to specifically try to beat that, but it would be interesting to see how close I got. Especially as all I was doing was running fast to try to get warm.

I kept the thick gloves and hat on throughout, something that I would never normally even consider when trying to run fast. I have to say that I never warmed up or even really broke sweat. It was freezing! Don't get me wrong though, it was lovely being out running in the (very) fresh air on a day like today. The park was beautiful.

I finished my parkrun freedom run in a time of 18:38 and incredibly I didn't even feel like I had tried, or warmed up.

It wasn't until I got home and took a look at my list of recorded parkrun freedom run times on the parkrun website, that I realised that this was indeed my fastest ever parkrun freedom run. Only by 4 seconds and only the 3rd time I had gone under 19 minutes, but my fastest ever all the same. And I was very chuffed with that!

Another bonus is that now I don't need to go training this evening, when it will probably be even colder!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

My 14 year old son at parkrun

My son Nat who's now 14years old, started running when he was in the last year at junor school, when they entered him into a schools Xcountry race. Although he didn't win, he ran really well and from that moment on he decided he liked running, enough to join a club.

He then joined Longwood Harriers where he has run xcountry during winter months and on track in summer, mainly 1500m and field events of shot and discus. He during a summer track season found his niche in the longer distances. Whilst he had gained much experience from his clubs training and events, it was finding Parkrun that really broke the mould.

He started off in July 2011 on his first ever Parkrun, and his first ever proper long distance run. He did really well and managed a time of about 26mins.
Since then he has gained much more experience. He now runs a time of 18mins20.

He feels the progression of his running owes a lot to Parkrun, as it has built his stamina, pacing and improved is time no end. But he also loves the fact it being free to attend, a timed event where you can watch your progress, the fun and socialising aspect that the directors bring as well as the volunteering responsibilities too. He has now done 49 Parkruns and enjoyed everyone including Burnley and St Albans and this weekend he will be doing his BIG 50th Parkrun as a JUNIOR. He doesn't know if he'll get yet another PB but he recons he'll give it a shot. And me, mum well I will enjoy cheering him on like you do and the others runners too.

Good luck on your 50th Parkrun Nat! And.... THANK YOU Huddersfield parkrun! x
Kimberley Stock

parkrun stats of the week - 8th December 2012

The parkrun statistics of note for this week are:
181 parkrun events run
18,504 runners (up 180 on last week)

The average number of runners per parkrun event run was: 102 (down 3 on last week).
Just 3 events recorded a new record attendance this week, as follows:
Event  Record Attendance  
Cornwall Park76

The longest standing parkrun attandance record is:
Amager Faelled  146 28/08/2010

And in the UK its:
Old Deer Park  83 15/01/2011

The highest attendance this week was 696 at Bushy Park. No surprise there. Bushy parkrun still holds the global attendance record for a single event of 1000.

The lowest attendance this week was 6 at Pymmes parkrun.

5 new male course records set this week (1 more than last week):
Athlete  Time  
AberystwythEdward DONOVAN17:10:00
Little StokeScott CAMPBELL16:45:00
SouthendDanny NORMAN16:28:00
TorrensDaniel HARTWIG16:52:00
WynnumWerner BOTHA16:56:00

6 new female course records set this week (4 less than last week, but again, the women won this week!):
Event  Athlete  Time  
SandgateLisa DINEEN21:48:00
South BankBritney MCMULLEN18:09:00
KawanaTayla CLEGG20:24:00
PortrushGemma TURLEY20:36:00
Albert MelbourneSusan KUIJKEN16:47:00
EbotseRobyn Claire KALTENBRUNN20:08:00

A total of 53 runners (up 3 on last week) ran times under 17 minutes this week.
Just 4 of these (down 2 on last week) run under 16 minutes!
Event  Athlete  Time  
RushcliffeAlastair WATSON15:07:00
St AlbansKevin SKINNER15:12:00
CityparkConnor MAGILL15:53:00
AlbertWondiye Fikre INDELBU15:53:00

The fastest parkrunner in the World this week was by Alastair Watson running 15:07 at Rushcliffe parkrun.

The top age grade performance this week was by Jane Davies who ran 21:06 in the VW60-64 category at Bushy Park parkrun, recording a 96.05% Age Grade in the process. Not that is an amazing age grading!

36 parkrun freedom runs were recorded this week. The fastest freedom run recorded the week was a ridiculous 16:56 by Werner Botha at Wynnum parkrun on 8th December 2012.

Other facts and figures:
- Last weekend saw the 15,000th parkrun event run, taking the total up to 15,077.
- 11 new clubs were represented at parkrun for the first time this week.
- 248,958 different people have now completed at least one parkrun. We should pass through the 250,000 mark this coming weekend!

Albert Melbourne Parkrun Preview

Only a few kilometres from the main Central Business District of Melbourne we have Albert Park Lake. An artificial lake was created in the late 1800's by moving silt from the natural lagoons and using it as landfill around the lake itself. The lake is home to fish and a multitude of birdlife, with the black swans being one of the highlights as you take in your Saturday parkrun. In spring it is quite common to see the swans with signet's close behind traversing the paths and roads.

The running track around the lake is used quite extensively for organised fun runs, casual joggers and walkers and is 4.7 kms in length. For parkrun the start takes us back 300 metres to ensure we run the full 5kms. The track itself is flat throughout with the first 200 metres or so on grass, the reminder being crushed gravel with a few short concrete crossings near cafes and boat sheds.

Temperatures range from 2 degrees Celsius in winter up to 30 degrees in summer, and there can be the occasional puddle water hazard on your journey, but nothing too daunting. A single small road crossing and the occasional row boat being moved from the sheds (the lake is used for sailing and rowing by a number of Melbourne schools) are the greatest hazards you will generally come across. Strong winds can come at you in all directions (but that's more Melbourne than the lake itself) so don't plan on personal best times every week.

Even though the park is used once a year for the Melbourne Formula One Grand Prix, we are able to run at 8am each Saturday for 51 weeks of the year, with a few diversions during the preceding weeks as the track is set up. Our only week off is during the Grand Prix itself.

Albert Melbourne parkrun is home to a large bunch of friendly, helpful and fun runners who welcome all newcomers of all abilities with open arms. If you'd like to run sub 20 mins or even improve to sub 35 mins you'll find someone who will pace or assist you just about every week, with the encouragement and camaraderie kicking on for a while after the run in one of the local cafes where coffee, juice or breakfast is a must. We also have a number of themed events during the year, with the last 12 months seeing fancy dress for the Queen's Jubilee, London Olympics, AFL Grand Final and of course our first birthday.

Tony Messenger


We at Edinburgh have had the very good fortune to only have had the need to postpone events four times in just over three years.  Three times for bad weather and once for some caravan gig that pitched up at the far end of the course leaving the regular route too restricted to safely run through.

However, most UK events have a frequent visitor that plays havoc with our courses.  Sometimes it starts a few days before and sometimes only a number of hours before but on every occasion it leaves RD’s with logistical nightmares and some tough decisions.  I have witnessed the damage having been done, seriously done, and only by the grace of the good Lord himself has it been turned around with only an hour or so before the gun.  I’ve also known our course to have been devastated for many days and Friday comes along and good order is restored.  Other times it’s just a hopeless case and the towel is chucked well and truly in.

It’s the unpredictability of our visitor, and he’s a sole male visitor apparently and spawned by the mightiest matriach you'll ever meet, that makes creates the nightmare and when he’s in town, any town, everyone gets to know about it.  From the minute you poke your toe from under the duvet you’ll know.  From that first peek through tight drawn curtains you’ll know.  Worse still, when you step out from the warmth of your cave and tippy toe to your car you’ll definitely know and that, my parkchums, is when you ask yourself ‘should I stay or should I go?’

You go!  What?  Of course you go but in the back of your mind you’re hopeful that your RD isn’t being faced with the same sight that had just befallen you else it could be game over before it’s even begun.  And that’s when you’ll wish you had stayed in bed.  Local authorities often recognise their home events and occasionally they may offer support to rid the area of the problem and all is well but there are some courses, particularly the multi terrain fellows, where the damage caused is so severe that it cannot be feasibly resolved.

So who are this parent and son combo?  She’s Mother Nature and he’s Jack Frost and both are the scourge of every parkrun.  She’s one massive mamma who, although slightly predictable, cannot be controlled and he’s her chilly chum who brings his Jackstravaganza, a Jackattack even a Jacktacular Jackfest of Frost.

Course inspection completed but the Jackfather still hangs around.  Maybe patchy, maybe all over, maybe black, maybe white but it’s a goer.  The troops are in place and the flag is up but how confident are you in doing battle with Jackmaster Frost and the Ice Queen?  Well, it’s like this, only you will know.  If you don’t fancy it then don’t do it.  If it’s a risk too much then withdraw your labour and run another day as let’s face it, there’s not an RD in the country that will risk the health and safety of their parkmates.  Ultimately the decision is yours to take and anyway, you only ever participate at your own risk.  And hey, there’s always next week.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Who will be the 250,000th new parkrunner?

As of last weekend (Saturday 8th Decmber 2012), 248,958 different people have run and completed a parkrun somewhere in the world.

The current trend is for roughly 1600 to 1800 new runners to run their first parkrun event each weekend. If this trend continues we should see the 250,000th new parkrunner complete their first parkrun this coming weekend!

So who will be parkrunner 250,000? And more importantly, will they be dressed as a Santa or an Elf?

New Contributor: Stuart Franklin

Name: Stuart Franklin
Twitter: @cicerunner
Home parkrun: Dulwich
Date of first parkrun: 11/8/2012

parkrun stats the time of this first blog post, 10/12/2012:
Total parkruns so far: 9
Number of other parkrun locations run so far: 1 - Oak Hill
Number of times volunteered: 2
See my parkrun athlete history for my current statistics.

I was born in the mid sixties and have a few partial memories of secondary school PE lessons including a 1500m, a cross country and another being convinced by my schoolmates that I shouldn't run the 400m in a house competition as another boy - whose name I don't remember, but whom I can still picture - was a much better runner. He was. Fortunately I listened! These though are one off memories. At school and in the years since it never occurred to me to take up running as a sport or pastime.

I started running some time in 2004 initially mostly on a treadmill. I was probably just approaching my 40th birthday at the time. I entered my first race, a 10k, in 2006 and have been entering events and obsessively recording all my running ever since. I've raced most distances from 5k to half marathon.

The latter half of 2010 was written off due to problems with my knees and 2011 I had a seriously debilitating bout of sciatica which resulted in me running only 18 miles that year! I started running again in late February 2012 and half remembered a weekly timed 5k that I'd heard about a few years before. Whether that was a parkrun I was remembering I don't know, but my searching on the net lead me to parkrun and specifically Dulwich parkrun which I've now adopted as my home event even if Crystal Palace parkrun is technically closer. Guess which is the flatter of the two?

I immediately loved the atmosphere and relaxed "feel" at my first parkrun. The seamless combination of serious athletes (running serious times!) and runners of all abilities and ages meant I was hooked. I volunteered within a few weeks of my first run and really enjoyed the experience. Not the most outgoing of people I've taken my time getting to know the community, but am getting to know several of the regulars at Dulwich as the weeks pass. At present I work many Saturdays during school terms and so I'm not a week in week out regular myself.

I'm looking forward to 2013, setting new PBs across a range of distances and parkrun being a significant part of that.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Factors influencing the possibility of a PB

It goes without saying that there are a whole host of factors that govern whether or not a PB is possible and then whether or not you achieve it. Some of those factors can be controlled, others cannot. So let's break those down, put the uncontrollable factors aside and work out what I can do about the factors I can control.

Factors I can't control:
The weather:
It could be windy, icy, raining or wet underfoot, or even snowing. Any of these conditions could make a PB less likely or even impossible. These factors can't be controlled and these are really "on the day" factors to help set realistic expectations. If the cponditions aren't right I'll be able to go easy on myself regarding the PB. If the weather isn't right, I won't worry about a PB.
The course:
The course is the course, and there is not much I can do about that.
At parkrun I know the course like the back of my hand, so that isn't a problem. Other courses I don't know as well. I could check out the course in advance, but that doesn't change it. Some courses will be PB courses others will not. My first 10km race target for next year is a course that I know reasonably well having run it the last two years, and as it is the course of my current 10km PB it is certainly a possible PB course.

So those are some factors that I can't control. There is no point in focusing on those as there is very little or nothing I can do about them.

Factors I can control:
The factors that I can control are far more important as these will be used to focus my preparation in training over the coming months.
This is very important to me, particularly as I am not very supple at the moment. Years of football related injuries have left me only very slightly more bendy than a telegraph pole. A big focus for the coming months is to find a regular routine to improve my suppleness.
With my history of muscle injuries and the amount of training time lost to them, this is another big focus for me. I need to prevent new injuries and any recurrence of old injuries, particularly my calf injury that has been on and off for nearly two years now. If I can avoid injuries and keep training, improvements are almost bound to come.
This is probably the given that we all know. I need to do the right training to ensure that my fitness levels are excellent. I have always been pretty fit, but as the years pass by, this needs to be spot on to make sure I have those PB chances.
I need to plan ahead to make sure I progress in the right way over the coming months. I need to work out when I need to be at the right fitness, weight, speed, etc and probably get a few fast runs in in the last few weeks prior to my PB target races. Just so that I know I am ready to go for the PBs.
I need to have prepared such that I know the PB is possible and likely for extra positive mental motivation. If I have prepared in the right way, getting the PB should just be the final piece of the puzzle.
I need to become in tune and comfortable with the right pacing or a pacing strategy that will work for me. The more often I train at that pace, even if only during interval training, the happier I will be in knowing that I can run the pace required for a PB.
Mental attitude:
I need to turn up with the right attitude necesary for a PB on the day. If all other preparation has been done, I need to make sure that I know that I am in good shape. The best way for me to ensure this is to have had some good hard runs with decent times before my PB target runs.
Pain acceptance and coping strategies:
I need to find a way to cope with the pain of being near my pace limit. Most times when I am running well and running on target for good times, it is the pain and the extreme hard breathing that causes me to slow. It is not that I can't manage to keep going, it is that I choose to make it easier for myself, rather than stay near to my limit. I need to find a way to cope with being near to my limit for longer so that I don't even think about slowing.
I have put on 5 lbs in the last 3 months. I don't want to become fixated on weight, but I do know that weight is a big factor. My fastest times have almost all come at my lowest weights. I should probably plot this and investigate to see how clear this weight/time relationship is.
I have decent running kit, but I should use my best kit for PB target races. I will certainly need new traimners in advance of PB attempts in the spring, and lightweight shorts would probably help too.
I must still include rest days in my training. At present I have too many, but rest is important for injury prevention and recovery. Pre-race rest days are also vital in the final run up to a PB attempt. I don't want to feel like I have any aches and pains at all.
My diet is pretty good anyway, but there are certain things I need to curb a bit. Less late evening snacks would be a good start too. Two of the main vices that I can't give up are Cheese and Chocolate. I'll just have to be sensible with how much I have and when I have it. i.e. a plate of cheese just before bedtime should be avoided. At Christmas it is a given that I will have plenty, after that I'll try to be a bit more sensible.
Alcohol consumption:
This must be lowered, but I still need to have fun and I am not prepared to give up alcohol for running. I am not a professional after all! But I have to be sensible. Drinking the day before a race has been out for a few years, but I probably need to extend this to a few days and also the day before hard training sessions. The worst thing for me regarding alcohol is that even just a glass of wine in the evening makes me crave cheese and biscuits. Two bad ideas for the prices of one!
I must be fuelled with the right level of energy before the races. Everything else could be right, but if I ran out of energy half way round a race, that would be very frustrating.
Pre-race fuel:
The fuel I take on in the last 24 hours or so should help and not hinder my chances of a PB. I must work out what works for me.