I have been running regularly for most of this year thanks to a kickstart provided by some “bad” blood test results which made me really question my health*.
I immediately decided I needed to start running again, so I joined the Resolution Runners group in Newton. The group has motivated me to keep running, and in order to get the most out of it I’ve also had a few physio/PT sessions. The result is that I feel a lot fitter and stronger inside and out, and the PT sessions have helped my running much more than I anticipated. But what to do now? Keep on doing the same stuff or find a challenge for my newly earned fitness?
Well, I decided on a challenge. The idea came to me last week after I had run Delamere Parkrun with a friend from work. The Parkrun site has excellent stats about each run, so you can easily see where you finished overall, within your age group, and even the Age Grading % (which is basically how close you are to the World Record for 5K for your age). Here are the results for the week I raced, and all the stats for me personally. The data I was most interested in was the page that shows the best times for each Parkrun event broken down by age category. I am in the Veteran Male 40-44 category (VM40-44), so here’s the VM40-44 times for Delamere to show you what I mean. At the time of writing I am 513th on this list, but I want to be much higher than that – and so the idea for the challenge was born.
I am going to target a few local Parkruns (and maybe some less-than-local ones, we’ll see) and try to break into the top 100 for my age category. To give you an idea of what that means, for Delamere I’d currently need to get a time of 0:20:15 or better. Of course, these times are a moving feast as any number of runners could better 0:20:15 one week thus making breaking into the top 100 that much harder. To help me I entered Geek Mode and created a spreadsheet! I’ve listed a number of Parkruns along with the current 1st and 100th time for my age group. A quick calculation later, taking the 100th time and subtracting a small %, has given me a target time for each Parkrun. This is a time with a bit of wiggle room built in, and if I can achieve it I should break into the top 100 for my age group. For the Parkruns I’ve currently selected this gives me a range of times from 0:23:32 to 0:20:03.
This is a significant challenge for me. When I was running regularly at my best about 10 years ago, I could easily manage 7-minute miles for a 5 mile race. My best time over a mile was 0:05:31, and I could probably have achieved a 5k time running around 6.5-minute miles. That equates roughly to a 0:19:30 time at Parkrun. All of which means that getting into the top 100 at some of my selections will be very difficult, if not impossible for someone of my ability. But that’s the nature of a challenge, there wouldn’t be any point if the challenge was non-existent.
I’m not as “running” fit as I was 10 years ago, but overall my body is in better shape because of the strength training and yoga. Both of those things have helped my running form and technique, and that will be crucial if I’m to maintain pace over a 5k. I’ve got about 6 months to complete this challenge, because then I’ll be moving up into the next age group!
The Parkruns I have targeted are as follows:
Haigh Woodland: 23:24
St Helens: 21:53
Croxteth Hall: 21:48
Pennington Flash: 20:37
- Turns out they were fine, just elevated due to a repeated cold infection I couldn’t shake – once I’d repeated the tests I got the all clear.