When I was in the midst of my Marathon training there was one thing that became clear. Having the structured training plan was really helping me. I therefore made the decision that once my races were over I would focus myself on a new target with a plan. The target was my 5k parkrun time. Having recorded a 21.31 in March last year, my times had stagnated and I’d not even come close to beating it. Deep down I knew with focus it was possible though.

As it was, when the marathons got postponed, my running fell apart for the best part of a month. By the time I was up and running again, and with the potential of another Marathon training block on the horizon, I abandoned my plans to train for the 5k time. Running became about getting regular miles in, and exploring new routes and paths.

However, it is strange that things happen when you least expect them to. I’ve written previously about my weekly non-parkrun. Organised by the ED at Pocket parkrun, each week you submit a 5km time from your own virtual parkrun, and he produces a results list. It has definitely kept me going.

The first couple of weeks saw modest times in relation to my PB as I started to get going after my break. However, by week 3 I started to realise there was a bit of speed returning to my legs. Granted the course I was running was better suited for speed work being flat and concrete, but as I finished just 4s outside my PB, I started to wonder what was possible. I however didn’t change my training to focus on speed though.

After a couple more weeks of modest times I started to wonder if it had been a fluke and the idea started to falter. That was until week 6 when suddenly out of nowhere I managed to shave 15s off my PB. I had been thinking if I got a PB it would be a couple of seconds at a time, not a bulk like this. I couldn’t quite back it up the following week (although it would have still beaten my old PB) or the week after that. Again, maybe the improvement was a flash in the pan and to get the extra seconds off I needed to focus my training as originally planned.

Then came week 9. It was a rather warm day and I wasn’t able to get out until the hottest part of the day so my excuses were ready. The first 2km weren’t Earth shattering but then suddenly something clicked. I started to speed up and for once I was able to hold on to the speed. I can only assume the long training runs from earlier in the year had given me the strength to keep pushing. As I finished in another 30s PB and my first time ever under 21mins, I was a little shocked! How had I knocked so much off in one block? Typically though I had barely got over the sub 21 before my mind turned to sub 20.

I still had another 46s to go and surely I couldn’t keep carving time off? Then two weeks later I got out first thing before I had eaten anything and it was a little cooler. Boom, another 19s gone! All of a sudden in the space of a month I had knocked over a minute off my PB. Speed is definitely now my friend.

I’ve still got a way to go to hit that magic sub 20. So far none of my runs has even seen a single km at the required pace. But now it seems so much closer. Marathon training starts up again in a couple of weeks so realistically I have a couple more true shots but I am just enjoying the speed I have found. Now all I need is for parkrun to start up again so I can make the times official!

By Mike

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