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We’ll call it a draw (The return of Mr Notajogger)

24 November 2011

By Dan Crane:

On Saturday I did my second parkrun. parkruns are “free 5k timed runs every week all around the country, and around the world”. Have a look at www.parkrun.com. Once you’ve registered with them online you can turn up to any run without booking, so it’s dead flexible. My nearest is at Finsbury Park, which is a perfect distance from home as I can get there with a 10 minute jog (can I say jog on here?), leaving me warmed up and ready to go.

Not that I should need a particular reason to take part, but both times I’ve used it as a tempo run session. It fits neatly in to my 10K training schedule, which has a 20 minute tempo session each Saturday (I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do a 5K in 20 minutes, but that just puts me in training credit, right?).

So, I did my first parkrun about a month ago, in the first or second week of the training schedule finishing in 21:13. That was a 5k personal best and, as a tempo run should be, I was going as fast as possible whilst still being able to complete the distance. I didn’t time any splits but I felt like I was maintaining a pretty even pace. At the end I was knackered.

My second was after 5 more weeks of training. The plan was, as with the first, to just go as fast as I could without timing any splits and to only look at my watch at the finish line. I felt like I started at a similar pace but, in contrast to the first, during the second lap (it’s a two lap course) I was seriously flagging and felt like I slowed down considerably. I expected a finish time of around 22 minutes, so was surprised when I finished bang-on 21:13 again.

After a few moments of happiness at being faster than I thought, the following questions sprang to mind regarding my identical times:

Does it mean
a) the training has made me no faster?
b) I am generally faster but more tired on the day after some heavy training weeks?
c) I started too fast and the time lost slowing down in the second lap negated time gained in the first? or
d) I need more decimal places on my watch?

And with regard to the 10k race I’m training for:

i) My previous best is 43:57, and I’m aiming for a time faster than that, and as near to 43:00 as I can. So, if after 5k at 21:13 pace I’m knackered, do I have a hope in hell of staying on similar pace for twice the distance?

ii) But, the 5k course has two hills per lap (one long and gentle, one short and steep), whereas the 10k course is pretty much flat. Does this mean I can expect to be faster? How much time do those hills add on?

Well, if anyone has any answers, please let me know because I don’t. All I know is that the training is good, worthwhile and will contribute to my overall fitness. I’ll prepare as best I can by eating sensibly and getting a good night’s sleep before it, but my time in the race will probably rest largely on how I feel on the day. I’ll keep you posted.

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