Improve Your Parkrun PB
No matter what you are training for, there is one thing every runner knows: improvement is a long road. But it does not have to be an unrewarding one.
Parkrun is a global initiative to get people out running: a simple premise, but an incredibly successful one, bringing together people from all walks of life for the shared goal of completing a 5km course. For many, this is a chance to meet up with friends and stay active. For many others, it is also an opportunity to improve yourself – this includes nabbing that next PB.
There are any number of reasons why you might feel like you’re hitting a wall: that the next PB is just out of reach. We’ve all been there, and the crew at The Run Hub are no different. So we have put together a short list of changes you can make to your present routine, or even new ways to approach your training, to ensure you don’t hit that wall and can smash that Parkrun PB.
Parkrun PB Summary
- Warm-ups and stretching
- Speed work
- A nutritious breakfast
- Pacing yourself
- Peace of mind
Warm-Ups And Stretching:
As simple as it might sound, this pre-run routine can so often go overlooked! Before your parkrun, or before your training sessions, make sure you go for a 15 minute warm-up: you should stick to an easy pace where your heart rate is low and you can chat normally. Try to put together a stretching routine to follow this with: stretching your muscles after your warm-up will ensure they are already flexible enough to take it. This will ensure that, as you toe the starting line, your muscles are feeling loose, strong and ready to go.
To get fast you sometimes have to train fast: but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing! Incorporating an interval, hill or tempo session even just once into your weekly routine can make a huge difference after a couple of weeks. For beginners to the sport – or just new to speed training! – start small. Not only will something new be a shock to the muscles, but they will also need a longer time to recover than after your usual run. A couple of potential sessions you could do to get started are:
3x1 mile, or 4/5x1km at your goal race pace, with 2mins slow or walking in between.
6k (you can split this up over a longer run) at a few seconds slower than your present parkrun pace – this will get your muscles used to the slightly harder effort over longer distances.
These are just examples, of course, and you will soon find for yourself what works best for you. Each of these should be preceded by the kind of warm up and stretching mentioned before, as well as followed by a cool down. This should be treated as part of the overall session, as it will help train your body to deal with the lactic that builds up during harder runs or races. Most importantly, however, try to have fun with the session: play around with what your intervals are, or better yet, get a friend to join and encourage you. It may be an individualistic sport, but it doesn’t have to be a lonely one!
Ensuring a balanced and healthy diet throughout the week is incredibly important for anyone, but this is especially true for athletes (both new-comers and regulars to the sport). Running is demanding, and unless you care for your body, it won’t keep paying dividends. This is just as important on the morning before a race, a parkrun, or any distance you might want to PB on. Before you set out for the Parkrun, ensure you have something light but substantial: you don’t want a heavy stomach as you toe the line. Keep your proper breakfast for afterwards (a carbohydrate-rich reward is always nice!).
On the day of the Parkrun, have a strategy and stick to it. Split the course up into certain segments (5x1km, 3x1 mile, etc). Do not go all out for the first segment: it is tempting, but could be detrimental to the second half of the Parkrun. Choose a pace (preferably your goal pace) and stick to it at the beginning. As you reach the final segment or two, begin to pick up the pace. Remember, even just going one second faster will get you that PB – so make sure you have enough in the tank! This is where you will really feel the benefit of the speed sessions.
Peace Of Mind:
While everything detailed above is important, it is equally as important to ensure you don’t become too focused on your time every time you set out. Parkruns are a prime example of running’s ability to bring people together in a communal love of the sport. So whether you’re walking, jogging or running (volunteering too!), don’t forget to take it easy now and again. It can be very easy to get so caught up in the data your watch spews out: so when chasing that PB, remind yourself why you run, and why you want to improve. Trust us: that PB isn’t going anywhere.
At The Run Hub, we put our athletes first. That means also offering advice when needed, whether it is on training, nutrition or gear. So remember to check back to the blog regularly, or even pop into the store! Our staff will be more than happy to chat to you about all your running needs.