On my holiday I decided I would do the local Parkrun for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it would be a good way to get to know the area and meet some people. Secondly I haven’t done one for a while and it’s also a short run so wouldn’t take up too much time but I could push hard to get some training benefits.
I didn’t know much about the course or its profile in advance just that it would be a cool thing to do. It turns out that it was by a lake which we wanted to check out called The Lost Lake. We got there early and had a little stroll before I headed to the start area. There was two Parkrun volunteers there to run the event and I had a nice little chat with them and another runner about the area and general Parkrun chat. As we were called for the brief briefing, about 20 of us (if that) wondered over. After asking how many people had done it before, it was soon revealed that we were all tourists. It was a quick explanation of the route which had also been coned to further guide us round. We were told about a couple of points that might confuse us: a u turn after 2k and a cut back after 4K. Good to know I thought and felt confident with the reassurances of it being marked out so put it to the back of my mind.
As we set off the weirdest thing happened – I was in the front! I had opened up a small gap to some people behind me and as I realised this, I had a slight panic that a) I might have gone the wrong way b) what if I go the wrong way and they follow me! After a couple of minutes there was a fork in the road and I instantly wished I had listened better to course info. I thought for a bit that I was meant to turn left but just in time I spotted a cone in the distance and carried on straight forwards. Phew. As it went on I stayed in the lead and even passed Dani who was walking the lake whilst I ran. Asked how I was doing I declared that I went off too fast and expected to be caught.
Not long after this I approached the u turn sign and had a second moment of doubt. Do I turn before the sign? Or do I turn before it? Do I come back on myself or up the slope back towards myself? After a brief pause to check the slope and with nobody around to check I decided it must mean run back on yourself. It turns out it did mean this. Phew!
Turning back I was able to see the gap I had which was more than I expected but I also still thought I’d be caught at some point. I then moved to go round alongside the lake. The views of the lake and the backdrop were an amazing view to have. I was glad that I would have time to go back round it afterwards and soak it in properly.
Passing the 4K marker I was still expecting someone to take me before the line so I tried to just maintain my pace. The slight decline towards the line helped me out. I got to the line and stopped my watch. Having not looked down the whole run I had no clue what it would say. It said 20:32. A new PB. Delightful. And on a slightly hilly course. I also managed to cross the line first. I know it is not a proper race and it depends on who turns up but it was a pretty cool and surreal feeling. I came first in a Parkrun. Not sure how many people can say that. I know I won’t repeat that again in any race for a very long time, if ever, so I will appreciate that feeling.
Training has been going well so a PB is good but I feel that on a flatter 5 k route I think I could manage a 19 and change. Something I will leave until after the marathon in 6 weeks time!
This week I made a return to Ashton Court Parkrun after a few weeks of feeling sluggish in the gym. After the last visit where I ran faster than I had planned to I went into this run hoping to beat my time. I ended up getting my latest PB. I will discuss the run in a separate blog shortly.
What I wanted to speak about was ‘self talk’. When I go on longer runs I often try to distract myself with certain questions, thoughts or continuous mile split calculations. I find this helps distract from the pain and boredom that can sometimes appear. This week as I was running the first half of my 5K I had to use it for different reasons.
Normally I like to push on towards the person in front of me and work hard to not let people go past me. However, I found myself trying to to use self talk to keep me focused on the end goal. As a couple of people started to gain on my shoulder I had to say to myself ‘do not worry about them. I am not racing them. Keep my pace and we will push it near the end. Keep working for a good time, not a position’.
I cannot remember so vividly a time when I have thought like this and told myself these things. Perhaps this is something I need to do more often when running at a good effort level to not go too hard too soon.
If you haven’t got anything that you normally say to yourself the. I would suggest trying to think of something positive. It really helped me so I would recommend it.
Does anyone use self talk in a similar way? Do you have any mantras for when you run? I would love to hear some.
As I have mentioned on a previous post, I have found the whole experience of Park Run absolutely brilliant. They have been well run, with friendly supportive volunteers and a lovely vibe amongst runners before, during and after the race (the treats that were made by runners was a nice and welcome surprise at the end).
I was therefore really surprised and disappointed when I heard on the news about the ridiculous intention of the local council to charge for the use of the park. This is CRAZY! When we live in a society of high obesity and inactivity levels which ultimately puts a strain onto the NHS and therefore government funding, why are we trying to discourage any organisation that is trying to promote a healthier and more active lifestyle. The mix of people you get visiting a park run on a Saturday morning each week is a fantastically varied bunch that made me feel proud to be part of it and proud of all those giving it a go – be it their first park run or their hundredth!
Unfortunately the council won and now the Park Run has to move which means a number of local people will have to find alternative solutions or travel further to find another Park Run. This will probably mean more people driving to the new location, or driving further, which means more people on the road, which means more congestion and air pollution. That is if people even decide it is worth committing to something which might then be dropped because a council demands a fee! I understand the argument that the council requires funds for the upkeep of the park, but they would have to pay for that regardless of who is using it and surely the idea of a park is that people ACTUALLY USE IT!
Hopefully everyone sticks to supporting Park Runs and if this story has brought anything good out of it, let it be that more people are now aware of Park Run and the good and positivity it spreads.
I first visited Little Stoke Park Run when my better half decided she wanted to go along. So, I went to support and then as soon as they said go I continued to support her by immediately leaving her at the start line as I got swept along with the crowds and trying to find my rhythm. I think she preferred this as she always says she doesn’t like me running with her and I was instantly keen to go and do my own race and try and find something to get out of this run.
I was carrying a post-London Marathon niggle so it was more of a ‘lets see what happens’ kind of a morning. I enjoyed it and thought the whole idea of Park Run was absolutely brilliant and made me wish I had got involved sooner. The second time I went along, I went solo and tried to get a decent time but didn’t quite achieve as good a time as hoped.
I find the 5K distance a really strange one, but similar to 10K I suppose. You are basically pushing yourself as hard as possible but only to a point where you know you only have to maintain it for a relatively short amount of time. So when I find myself in that uncomfortable zone I have to just remind myself that if I cant stay there then the race will end quicker. I have never considered training for this event and use it as a chance to try and go above what my marathon pace would ideally be.
It was on my third Park Run experience that I earned my current 5K PB in January this year. I was at the beginning of my more specific marathon training starting and had been building up slowly beforehand so I wanted to lay a marker and thought this would be ideal. I was aiming for anywhere around the 21 minute mark as this would have been close to my target marathon time.
I started off steady and found my rhythm to start with. Then I did my classic thing of finding someone who was going at close to my pace and tagging on to them. They got me through most before they stepped up their speed earlier then I wanted as I was pushing on my limit of acceptable discomfort. Then a younger lad was hovering near me and came past me on the last lap. He didn’t pull away from me so he was my next target. Yes, I know Park Run is an enjoyable social experience, but I have to find those targets and people to chase to keep me pushing. As we got to the home straight I started to gain on him and ended up going alongside him into the finish pen.
I was really chuffed with the time as it beat my previous by a decent amount. I look forward to going back every few months to test myself and see where I am at, although I may be looking elsewhere now.
5K PB – Little Stoke Park Run – 21:30