Us runners love Saturday mornings! No matter what the weather, we’re up and ready to parkrun. But why do we do it?
Of course, it’s for the community, the laughter, the cake and most importantly: the opportunity to set a new personal best time!
If you want to run your fastest parkrun, here are my top five tips:
1. Warm up
We all know we should do a warm up, but how many of us actually do? The crazy thing is, if the warm up is done correctly, it only takes a few minutes but it can have a dramatic effect on the outcome of your parkrun time.
2. Have some goals
I know what you’re thinking – another lecture on goal setting. But this is different, this is breaking your parkrun up into sections and then having a goal for each section. Likely, you’ve run your target parkrun loads of times, so you’ll know which parts are slower for you and which parts are faster. You can use that information along with the remainder of the tips to create a plan for your best ever parkrun.
3. Get a good start
I’m not necessarily talking about getting right to the front, but that of course can help as long as we don’t get in the way of faster runners.
No, when I say get a good start I mean stay relaxed. Go out at a pace you can maintain – don’t hoof it off the start just to burn out five minutes later. In fact, it is better to run a slightly slower first half mile or so, and then wind up the pace so you can fly through the rest of it.
For most races (I know, parkrun isn’t a race…), you will always set your best times by aiming for even, consistent pacing. Of course, there will be some variation on hills, winding sections and where the terrain changes, but keeping as close to consistent as you can almost always wins. This can be really tricky over 5k because the temptation is to go out hard and hang in there. But as per tip 3, it is often best to go out ever so slightly more relaxed and then rack it up to race pace. Doing this will give you the edge in the second half and may even mean you run the second half faster than the first!
5. Fast finish
So you’ve started out steady, then ramped up the pace and are now flying at full speed. You’re coming into the last 1/2 mile (800m) or so and it’s really starting to hurt. But I know you’ve got more! Use the power of your brain to find something deep down inside and start to wind up the pace even more. As soon as we know a race is coming to an end, our brain releases the brakes and stops trying to protect us from overdoing it. Use that to your advantage and either maintain your race pace or start to creep it up. Get to know the landmarks on your parkrun and use them as triggers to increase pace. As you come into the last 100m, give it everything you have. Contrary to how you may feel at this point, it is the time to relax into it and let your body fly!
So there you have it. My five tips for the fastest parkrun ever. You may want to build up to this and set a target date for a few weeks in the future. Use the events between now and then to practice little bits of your strategy. Above all else, enjoy it…oh, and don’t forget your barcode!
One more thing…why not check your current running form with our run assessment? You never know, a small improvement could lead to a big PB!