Saturday, 29 December 2012

parkrun targets for 2013

Here are my parkrun targets for 2013:

1. Get a new PB (under 17:28) before the end of April.
2. Set a PB of 17:15 or faster by the end of the year.
3. Run 40 parkruns in the year. This would take me to around 130 in total by the end of 2013.
4. Run at Brueton and Leamington parkruns again and set new PBs at each.
5. Run at 2 new parkrun locations.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

PB targets and milestones

My target for 2013 is to get PBs. I want to go for PBs at a range of distances including: 5km, 5 miles, 10km and probably half marathon.

In order to do this I need targets. I need milestones to aim for along the way and I need race targets, time targets and training targets.

So what race targets do I have:

5km:Well it has to be parkrun for 5km. I now regularly run parkrun with my 8 year old son and I give him the choice of when to run. However, I do know that he won't want to run every week. So when he decides not to run, sometime I will have to really go for it. I'd certainly like to achieve a PB before the end of April 2013 (that means beating my current PB of 17:28). And my overall PB target for 2013 is a very optimistic 17:15.
I would also like to get a parkrun PB at Brueton parkrun (currently 17:36) and at Leamington parkrun (currently 21:10).
My milestone targets for parkrun are sub 18 minutes in January, sub 17:50 in February and sub 17:40 in March.
5 miles:My main 5 mile target is the Sphinx Summer 5, which tends to be in June (I believe). This year I ran my 5 mile PB of 30:07 at that same event and next year I want to at least go under 30 minutes, with an ultimate target of 29:00. I would also like to improve my times from this year at all of my club's Summer 5 mile Handicap Series.
10 km:Leamington Spa Regency 10km - Sunday 7th April 2013:My current 10km PB was set at 36:47 at the Regency run in 2012. My aim is to beat that time and set a new PB. I know that this will be tough, so my main aim is a PB, but with 36:00 as my ultimate aim.
Two Castles 10km - Sunday 9th June 2013:
This is a tougher course than the Regency run and being in June it is bound to be hot. I would like to get a course PB (currently 38:27). I think this is achievable but anything more will depend entirely on the conditions on the day.

I am certain I will enter other 10km events in 2013, I am just not sure which ones yet. I'll aim for at least 2 more.

Half Marathon:My main aim is to find a suitable one and to get a PB. My current half marathon PB is 1:33:37 at Coventry Half Marathon in 2009. I am now a far better runner than I was then, so I should find this target relatively easy. My "absolute must" targets are a PB and sub 1:30, but I believe that I should be capable of a time around 1:25, so that is what I will be going for. I am yet to decide on a specific half marathon race target, I am considering one in the spring, but an Autumn Half Marathon such as the Birmingham Half may be more realistic.

Cross-country:I aim to do a couple more cross-country runs early in the new year and then next Autumn/Winter I will aim to improve my time and position at each event.

As far as training goes, I need to have targets in the following areas:

Weight: I know I need to lose a little weight in order to give myself my best chance of a PB. I'm by no means overweight, but racing weight is a little different. I would like to get down to 10 stone 5 lbs by the time I start to go for PBs, so I will aim for that weight by April. It's therefore likely that I will give myself 3 months to lose around 6 pounds (or maybe slightly more after Christmas) at roughly a pound every other week. That allows for a little bit to go on at Christmas, but any more and I'll have to lose it at a faster rate.

I'll aim to be 10 stone 9 lbs by the end of January and 10 stone 7lbs by the end of February.

Distance:I tend to average around 20-25 miles of running a week. I don't believe that this is really enough and I am certain that if I can manage to consistently increase this then I will automatically be in better shape. I have read previously that something like 40 miles a week would be ideal. I am not sure that I can manage to fit that kind of mileage in, so some may be replaced by static cycling. But any increase in mileage would be beneficial. I am going to set my target at 30 miles a week, and try to manage closer to 40 whenever possible.

Time/Speed:I will aim to do interval training at least once a fortnight and regularly achieve: 500m in 1 min 30 secs; 1km in 3 mins 15 secs; 2.5 km in 8 mins 30 secs.

I'll also aim to do my tempo runs at around 6 minute miles to get used to that pace.
Cycling:My target is to do a minimum of 2 static cycling sessions a week, and 3 where possible. I want one of these session to be a short flat out for 20-30 minutes and another to be at least an hour at a comfortable pace.

Hills:I aim to do a hills session at least once a fortnight.

Flexibility:My target here is really to spend time on flexibility. It is hard to gauge how that improves or set targets, but being able to touch my toes again and getting my socks on standing up are all I can really think of to judge how this goes. So they are my targets.

Another general aim of mine is to enter more events in 2013 as it has only been a handful (just 4 official races I think) in 2012.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

parkrun - A Year in Review

This time last year I was new to parkrun. Having been told about it by my nephew I took the brave step of turning up at Coventry one cold late November morning in 2011. I posted about this at the time. My main fear was that parkrun would be full of elite serious athletes and I, middle aged and not fit, would be humiliated at the end, keeping volunteers waiting. How wrong I was. I didn't come last, I did compete the distance and I loved it. I would now consider myself to be a parkrun fan and missionary, taking every opportunity I can to spread the word.

At the start of 2012 I set myself 3 goals. With only a week to go, and a question from Ian on Twitter asking fellow parkrunners how their year has been I replied that I would post my response. So here goes.

The Goals:
1. Run 30 parkruns by the end of the year
2. Volunteer 3 times this year
3. Run a 30 minute something parkrun.

So, how did I do?

1. This Saturday will be my 42nd parkrun. I ran on Christmas Day (and will, by way of paying back volunteer next Christmas day). I am driven to get that 50 T shirt by the second week in February. This means I will be driving to Braunstone on New Years day to get another one in. i have the countdown to 50 written in my diary. I've missed a couple through illness, holidays and other commitments on Saturdays but parkrun has now become a regular part of my weekend. I came last once. It didn't matter. I had fallen over in the garden the previous week and twisted my ankle, knee and hip but undeterred I rang my brother, got to Cannon Hill parkrun and walked it. It took 50 minutes, but it was a lovely morning and it counted towards the 50.

2. I have volunteered 4 times. I marshaled once, on a -8 morning with my teenage son in tow. I bribed him with the promise of a sausage sandwich in the cafe afterwards. I have given numbers out and scanned twice. I  love volunteering. parkrun cannot work without it, yet only a fraction of parkrunners do it. Why?

3. I haven't succeeded in this. I'm down to 32 minutes. I haven't really worked on speed this year, more distance.

2 out of 3 I can live with.

So what about next year? easy, get my 50 T shirt, volunteer 3 times, including at least one role I haven't done yet and, rather than a specific time get my percentage to 50%  or above for my age grade.

Before signing off and pouring the mother of all Gin and Tonics, a massive THANK YOU! to everyone who has volunteered this year. You are the heroes of parkrun.

parkrun...what's the catch?

So parkrun is free....Really?....How can it be free?....What's the catch?

parkrun really is free. There is no catch. Simply register for parkrun and then turn up and run at any parkrun location whenever you like.

You don't have to pay to register and you don't have to pay to run.

The whole point of parkrun is to break down barriers that stop people from running or exercising in general. If it's free, that's another barrier out of the way.

If you feel that you should pay, there are ways to donate to parkrun. This is easy to do, but it is never forced upon you or even mentioned very often. Its completely optional. An money raised is used mostly for any minor running costs at your home parkrun, and partly put towards a fund to start up new parkrun events.

The only other thing that you are asked to contribute is your time. parkrun asks that all runners occasionally give up their run and volunteer from time to time. Volunteering is simple and this just helps to keep parkrun going. There are lots of roles and you will never be made to take on any role hat you are not comfortable with. Most of the time when being a parkrun Marshall it is just pointing the way and clapping the other runners. If all parkrunners do their bit and volunteer occasionally then we all get to enjoy our parkrun every week. parkrun suggests that we all volunteer just three times a year.

So there really is no catch at all. You only give back what you want to.

Go on, make 2013 the year that you get into parkrun!

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

A little ditty about parkrun Funnel duckers

Does anybody know what a funnel ducker does?

Funnel duckers are,
A very odd type,
They turn up to their parkrun,
Like any of us might.

They stand abreast the start-line,
Waiting for the "Go!",
Then head off for the distance,
Running fast or slow.

They run the normal route,
And never go astray,
They're happy taking part,
They always know their way.

They speed towards the finish line,
Then cross the line and all is fine,
They have themselves a finish time,
But then they go and leave the line!

The manager of the funnel will say,
"Hey Funnel Ducker, not that way!",
"Will you please rejoin the line?",
"It won't take long, all will be fine".

The Funnel Manager will go on to say,
"Please stay in there and walk that way",
"The numbers person is working through",
"The position tokens just for you".

You see, if Funnel Duckers duck the line,
The results won't always work out fine,
It may seem that this is just a whine,
But someone else may get their time.

So Funnel Duckers, don't spoil the fun,
By all means come and do your run,
Please just stay within the queue,
And all at parkrun will be happy with you.

Merry Christmas to parkrunners everywhere.

Monday, 24 December 2012

5 parkrun targets for 2012 - How did I do?

At the start of the year I set myself a few targets for parkrun in 2012. So how did I get on?

My targets were as follows:

1. Get back under 18:30 before the end of April.Well, I actually managed this by the 25th February, running 18:18 that day. In fact, before the end of April I had run under 18:30 on 7 consecutive runs, also going under 18 minutes on four of those occasions.

2. Get a new PB (under 17:49) before the end of the year. This will be very tough, but what is the point of easy targets?I managed to set a new parkrun PB on two occasions this year, setting it to 17:46 on the 10th March and then improving to my current PB of 17:28 on the 7th April.

3. Run 35 parkruns in the year. This would take me to 85 in total and leave me on target for the 100 club by June 2013!Another one achieved. So far I have managed 39 parkruns this year. Unfortunately it looks as though I will only manage to run on one of the three remaining parkrundays this year. So it still looks highly likely that I will run 40 in the year. I now look likely to reach the 100 mark around the middle of March 2013.

4. Run at 2 new parkrun locations. Brueton for sure and at least one other.And that is exactly what I managed to do. I ran at Brueton and Killerton parkruns.

5. Finish in the top 5 in the Coventry points table.Well I am currently lying in 5th place in the male points table at Coventry parkrun. The points competition runs until early February, so this won't be finalised this year. It looks impossible for me to climb any higher up the table, and if anything I am likely to miss a couple of parkuns and therefore drop down the table a bit. I am also now running parkrun with my son quite regularly and only picking up one point each time in the process. I am therefore no longer thinking about points at all, but I'm in the top 5 at the moment, so I'll say that was also a success.

So totalling up, I'd say that is 5 out of 5 on those targets. A pretty successful year at parkrun!

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Santa parkrun fun

Great fun at the Coventry parkrun Santa run yesterday.

The weather may not have been too kind, with heavy rain throughout, but everyone seemed to enjoy it anyway.

There has been so much rain the last few days that we had a 30 metre by 5 metre pond where part of the parkrun course would normally be. A slight detour added a couple of hundred yards to the route.

At the yearly Santa parkrun, I always give myself the challenge of being the first Santa home, which I certainly managed 2 years ago, finishing 2nd overall, and I can't quite remember what happened last year.

The run was made slightly trickier this year as the Santa suit picked up weight as it soaked up the heavy rain, but all Santas were in the same boat. A boat would have been useful actually, as many parts of the route were submerged.

I don't know what the collective noun for a group of Santas is, but I'm going to adopt 'sack'.

I started the run in a 'sack' of about 5 Santas and we ran the altered route together for about the first 4 minutes. It was after this that I broke free from the 'sack' and ran as lead Santa for the rest of the run.

As usual I did manage to secure the first Santa spot in 8th overall, in a time of 19:23, not too bad given the detour, but unfortunately not first fancy dress finisher as a little elf managed to get ahead and stay ahead. The elf just wanted it a bit more than Santa this year!

Now after the run was where the real Santa fun started. A couple of years ago my brother and I started a little tradition of running the local roads in our Santa outfits after parkrun.

The last two years it has been snowing and rain isn't quite the same for festive spirit, or so you would think. As it turned out we go the usual reception of multiple beeps, lights flashed and plenty of waving.

We always remark about how keen the white van men are to wave at male Santas running along the road.

We certainly put a few smiles on faces and had a great time Santa running in the rain. Same time next year Santas!

To be included in my training plan

So I have decided that I want to get PBs in 2013. I have considered this and believe that it is still realistic that I am capable of a PB. I have thought about the factors that influence achieving a PB. I have thought about how to fit training in and not annoy the family.

So now it is time to work out what types of training I need to include.

I'll start with the obvious and work on from there:
1. Running - If running is my target, then it is pretty obvious that running is going to have to be the mainstay of my training. I will need to do long runs,
short runs, fast runs, slow runs, intervals and hill sessions. Finding the right balance of all of these will be key. The sheer quantity of different types of
runs required suggests to me that I either concentrate on different types for periods at a time, or I adopt a 2 week rotation, rather than one week.
2. Cycling - Sometimes this may be proper cycling, but for convenience it will generally be indoor cycling on my static bike.
3. Yoga - On and off over the past 2 years I have used a short yoga routine of 6 different running related exercises, which takes roughly 10-15 minutes
to work through. These exercises are great for strength, balance and flexibility and should I find a way to do them regularly I am certain I will see the
4. Stretching - I have never been very flexible and with age this is only getting worse. Finding a good set of stretches and ensuring that I do them
regularly will help no end.
5. Core strength - This is an area that I have never really concentrated on, so in theory it is an area where I can probably improve most significantly.

So those are the types of training I want to fit in. Now on to the ways that I will use to fit those sessions into my life:
- On occasions in the past I have got up before work and done some time on my static bike. I'll need to do that again.
- I work from home a couple of times a week and will need to continue to use those days to fit in decent lunchtime runs. Often I haven't run on  my
Friday lunchtime at home, saving myself for parkrun on Saturday. But I think this needs to change, apart from before any parkrun that I decide to go
- I probably need to use one of my work from home days for another static cycle session too.
- I must make sure I attend parkrun each week.
- I must also make sure I attend my club training on a Thursday, which I have been hit and miss with over the last few months.
- I should probably also consider the club Monday night core training session and the track session that follows. This hasn't been convenient for me up
to now, but perhaps I should try to attend once a fortnight.
- I also need to find a way to tag stretching, strengthening and some yoga onto the start or end of many of these sessions.