5k parkruns – how good are you?

Andover ParkRun
Image by shandyboy2010 via Flickr

With 5k running (and especially at parkruns with a wide variation in ability) people seem to think they are either brilliant, rubbish or improving. Well the one thing for sure is that you are ALL better than those sitting at home watching Saturday morning TV.

But for those that think they are brilliant and those that want to improve but are not quite sure what they should be aiming for then the question pops up “What is good?” ie “What is a good 5k run time for a non professional athlete and perhaps also for a non-club athlete?”

If you delve about on the parkrun website you will see special mention is made of people (men) who go sub-17 minutes and ladies who go sub 20. So that is the first measure of what is good. I would disagree slightly with those figures and say that a more comparable sub-17 performance for a woman would be sub 19:30 (other things being equal) but that is probably being too fussy.

Looking through that list of fine athletes you will see that >90% are club runners. So if you can get below those times without joining a club then I think you can call yourself ‘excellent’. And even if you are a member of a club you are surely at least ‘very, very good’ and, well, in fact by any logic you must also be excellent as you have achieved the same thing!

I would say a VERY GOOD level for anyone to aim for is to achieve an 80% age graded time. That rule applies regardless of age and sex. No-one will be able to achieve that level of performance without LOTS OF run-specific training. Yet even with manifestly imperfect form it can still be achieved.

And I would say that sub-20 is a good performance. But as I have written about elsewhere on this blog how easily that is achieved depends on your age, sex, technique and training. So that is more of a “general level of goodness”.

And no, if you ask, I am not excellent! But I can see the difference between very, very good and excellent and the mammoth level of personal commitment required to do it. I can even run at that speed…just not for 5k ! – but I think we can all run at that speed for some distance 😉

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2 thoughts on “5k parkruns – how good are you?

  1. I did my first Park Run last week and thought I was going to die.

    I come from a family of generational skinnyness, so losing weight was definitely off the agenda.

    My ten yr old daughter attempted it with me the week before and promptly stood up and refused to move after only 40 seconds into the race.

    Tantrum is not the word for it. She had come willingly but stated, “This is silly!” while the last runner sped past, leaving us at the very back.

    So I was a little disapointed that on my first proper run (without screaming child) I was doing almost as badly as the disaster day and had no offspring to blame.

    However, I then reminded myself of my reasons for signing up in the first place:
    1. To have fun.
    2. To meet other people with the same interest.
    3. To encourage the timid, lazy and old, to give it a go.

    I plodded on, walking briskly, only attempting to run when I spotted a yellow-jacketed marshall shouting, “Come on! Well done! It’s downhill now – you can do it!”

    I dragged myself in at 37:10 and ranked 502/548 (minus the 3 pacers who’s PBs were in their twentys, so I didn’t really beat them).

    But with an age grade of 44.3%, I’ve got a little homework to do.

    Thanks for all your great advice and encouragement.

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