If you run a 5k parkrun each week then you are not training ‘properly’ to improve.
In the worst case you will probably not be getting enough benefit from your other restricted number of sessions to improve; so all you will be doing on Saturday is practicing at your current pace. You will get VERY GOOD at doing the times you do now! Because that is what you are practicing. Not what you want I imagine (actually you will improve but slowly).
“But you like your weekly 5k!!” you cry.
So why not still do it but change it into a training session? With all those people around you it is ideal for a hard interval session. IE one where you run hard in the effort STAGES BUT you also jog/run quite quickly in the rest stage, rather than just stopping. Just to be clear; I’m sure you do intervals BUT, like me, if there’s no-one around I’m sure you really ease off perhaps more than you ought to during the rest periods by either; going too slow, not going at all or resting for too long!
As you do your parkrun a lot you will know where the Km markers are or, if not, you should easily be able to find out or use your training gadget if you have one.
Some suggestions then:
1. So run the first, third and last Km at FASTER THAN YOUR NORMAL RACE PACE and then the second and fourth at a pace where you can just about talk. You are allowed 15 seconds of very slow recovery after each of the first two efforts intervals (1st Km and 3rd Km as you finish after the 5th). A great morale-boosting way to pass lots of people; before they pass you back 😉
2. Or how about going for a 2, 3, 4 or 5km jog beforehand – even do the whole course. But then try to run the real race at your normal speed but a little less than 5k PB speed. This will build your endurance.
3. Or how about going at a constant pace during each of the individual 5 Kms BUT make each Km faster than the previous one? Culminating with the final Km at faster than normal race pace. This is harder than it sounds as your body does not expect to speed up as it gets more tired. You should be able to manage that though as you will not be as tired as you normally are at the last, fast bit. Don’t start off too slowly though and try to make say 5-10 secs per km pace increments from one km to the next.
4. Or how about an easy first 3km and a faster than race pace last 2 KM. The rationale for this one is that I’m sure you normally find the 4th and 5th Kms the hardest…so practice doing them faster. Practice makes perfect.
5. Or do the Richmond parkrun or one that is hillier than you currently do.
6. Or cycle to one a bit further away and vary your exercise regime.
7. Do you have any other suggestions? Share them below, this page has quite a few hits so you will be helping others. See my ‘mean 5k intervals’ article below if you are feeling masochistic.
So basically I’m saying that it’s good to mix it up a little before you get bored rather than because you are in a routine.