Practice running the course
Knowing exactly where the corners are, where the km markers are and where the narrow or wide sections of path are can give you an advantage for your 5K PB attempt. Practice running your parkrun course at an easy pace during the week so you can really get to know it. This will show you where the opportunities are to overtake if needed are as well as where you should start your finish sprint.
Your start position
If you’re after a fast time, it’s important to get into your running stride early on an start running at the pace you need. So it’s vital that you position yourself correctly at the start – too far back and you’re going to spend the first kilometer weaving around other runner. It can feel daunting lining up nearer to the front, but be brave.
If you’re a regular parkrun, you’ll start to get a sense of who is the same pace as you. Challenge yourself to stand a little closer to the front each week.
find a pacemaker
Some parkruns have pacemakers on special occasions that will help runners to run various time goals. You can find out about these in their regular emails (check your email preferences) or via Facebook. Sticking with a pacer can help drag you through that tough last kilometre. Alternatively, you could ask a faster friend to pace you one week.
Practice your faster parkrun pace
Pacing is key for anyone looking for a PB, even more so in a short 5K. Go out too fast and you’ll be plodding through treacle for the last mile. Needless to say, the first 400-500m, or a whole 10 percent of your race, is crucial!
You can practice your pace in training by breaking your parkrun down into intervals. A good interval session would be 3-4x 1k at your goal pace with 2 minutes easy running between efforts. This will help improve your fitness but also give you a feel for your goal pace so that it becomes second nature on the day.
Warm-up for a faster parkrun
Elite athletes know the power of a good warm-up. They’re not just important for helping you avoid injury, they can help you run faster too. If you’re wanting to hit your goal pace from the moment the starter says ‘Go’, you need to get your body moving beforehand and warm-up first. Even 10 minutes of easy jogging or walking/running can help, although ideally you’ll include some dynamic movements too.
Choose your PB weeks
When your first start running, you may find yourself on a rapid progression curve where your times get quicker each week. But as you get fitter and more experienced, your times will start to level off and it will take more effort and training to get faster.
Don’t attempt a PB every week. Your body needs time to recover from the hard effort of pushing itself over 5k and you need time for the training to sink in. Instead, try a monthly PB effort and use the weeks in between to run easy, pace slower runners or volunteer. Choose weeks when the weather conditions are good and your legs are feeling fresh to really push yourself.
Learn from any mistakes
Even the weeks when everything goes wrong and you find yourself stopping to catch your breath can help you improve if you can identify what went wrong. After each PB attempt, make a note of what you did well and what you could have done better. Keep it in your phone or your training log and find a solution for next time.