In an attempt to increase my speed, break up monotony and get a bit more racing in than marathons allow I made the aim this year to try and go sub-20:00 for 5km. Training so far has been going great with a much more focused schedule including much more intense speed work which has been fun in itself.
The first test came for me two weekends ago when I made the decision to get a baseline and race a 5km. Despite been a runner for more than 10 years I had never really raced a 5km race, I’d done a few 4km races when I started out and a number of 10km races but largely my racing was over the longer distances.
So it was I nervously decided to register to run my first ever parkrun race – and as an event I can give it a glowing endorsement.
Formed in the UK in 2004, Parkrun is a great initiative designed to get more people into running. They are weekly 5km races, free of charge, run by volunteers and with costs covered by sponsors now held at 155 locations around the world and run regularly by more than 12,000 runners.
I attended Albert Parkrun in Melbourne and despite having never attended before was met by a friendly group of organisers and fellow runners. There was just over 150 runners in attendance and after a short warm up and event briefing, we got underway at 8am.
My Garmin battery had gone flat so I raced naked which I am sure meant that I went out way too hard, but also meant that I was limited by my perceptions. I raced pretty hard and had to hang on at the end but managed to cross the line in 21:47 – a time that I was delighted with given I had no real expectations or awareness of my current fitness levels.
Parkrun record times using a barcode system where you must pre-register and receive a barcode and then when you cross the finish line you receive a second barcode that is linked to your time. Both your registration barcode and finish time barcode are scanned and then results are upload to the website within a few hours.
I’ll now race this course a few more times over the coming months on my plan to go sub-20:00, but irrespective of whether I hit that target or not I’m glad I discovered parkrun and will be making sure I stay a regular in the community. The more I race the faster I will get and hopefully that added speed will come in handy when I do my next marathon.