Tag Archives: 5k

It’s taken 32 months, but I finally did it.

13 Dec

In April 2012, I ran 5k in 25:08. It was 14th April – a week before my first marathon. Afterwards, I was so broken that I struggled to run well for months. Since then I’ve only run 5k in under 26 minutes 6 times, with only two of those being this year.

I’ve tried everything I could think of – speed work at the track, focusing on my diet, attempting to lose weight, every variation of breakfast (including none), pacers, all of my trainers, a running coach – but nothing seemed to help me get close to my goal, but suddenly everything has started to come together.

I’ve tried to identify the secret to success. This year, I’ve done a lot more cycling and swimming, so there has been less stress on my legs. I’ve also recently started going to strength and conditioning classes with SUTRI. I trained with RunCamp for most of the year, have been going to track sessions led by Huw from Southampton Tri Club and I’ve started going back to Lordshill Road Runners training on Monday nights. I also had a successful training camp with Embrace Sports in November. However, I think the big turning point for me has been getting my asthma under control, combined with the fact that I like running in cold weather.

Last week, I ran really well, so I decided that I would aim for a PB this week. I’ve tried hard to eat well all week and I chose not to swim last night as I was feeling tired and thought an early night would be better for more than more exercise. Also, I wanted to get a PB before the end of 2014 and there are not many chances left for me.

Fortunately, the weather was on my side. It was cold (just above freezing), but completely still and dry. This meant that I was able to wear shorts and my lucky Team SOAS vest… although I paired these with some compress sport calf guards and a Bondi band headband, to ensure that I didn’t get too cold before I started. There weren’t many other people with vests on… most of the women seemed to have tights, jackets and gloves on.

My first challenge was that when I tried to turn my Garmin on, it beeped, but the screen was blank. It hadn’t been charged. I panicked a little, but there was nothing to do, but run naked.

Teri convinced me to start a little closer to the front than I normally would, and I knew from recent runs that I needed to make sure that I didn’t set off too quickly. Teri’s original plan had been to aim for a PB, but after a night out, she just wanted to go for a steady run, which would be close to 25 minutes for her, so she suggested that I tried to keep her in sight, with the closing phrase, “What could go wrong?”

James from LRR and STC was running today, so he said that he’d be happy to pace me. Unfortunately, just a short way into the run, he had to answer a phone call, so I continued on my own. The route is a loop that has to be run twice, with a long hill. On the second hill, Stu and I drew level, so he started encouraging me, and a short while later James caught up with us. At 3k, James told me that I’d done it in 15:06. This made me panic as I worried that I was running too slowly, so I tried to run faster.

Eventually, I got to the top of the hill, but I knew that I couldn’t relax. I tried to pick up the pace going downhill. I didn’t want to feel frustrated that I narrowly missed out on a PB by not trying hard enough. I got down the hill and turned the corner, so that I could see the finish. Stu encouraged me to keep pushing, so I did what I could to run faster even though I was breathing really heavily. I was so pleased to cross the finish line.

Today I finally got a PB. I knocked 29 seconds off my fastest time at Southampton parkrun, and 23 seconds off my fastest ever 5k time as well as going under 25 minutes for the first time. I feel so happy 😀

parkrun PB 2014

My friend Teri was also aiming for a PB today. She first went under 25 minutes almost two years ago and has managed it 13 times since then, but sub 24 minutes has eluded her. In recent weeks she has been tantalisingly close with 24:11, 24:07 and 24:02, so I was delighted for her that she managed to finish in 23:50 today.

Teri and Tamsyn PB

Teri and I celebrating our PBs © Teri Pragnell

I’ve got one more 5k run this year, so I’m going to see how well I can do at that. I now have a new goal – can I run 5k in under 24 minutes in 2015?


Update: 13th December 2015
Well, I haven’t managed to run 5k in under 24 minutes in 2015. I did manage to get another PB in March 2014, but I only ran under 25 minutes twice this year. If you’re interested in how I’m doing, you can view my latest parkrun results.

I’ve finally got my running mojo back :-D

1 Dec

It’s been a strange week for me. After spending months and months thinking that I would never get back to my former level of fitness, there is actually a glimmer of hope on the horizon. I’ve come back from my training holiday with a new enthusiasm for running and an unwillingness to accept my self-imposed limitations.

As Run Camp has finished until January, Thursday morning has transmogrified into ‘Run Gang’, which is similar to ‘Bike gang’, but with running. Liz, Katherine, Stu, Jenny and I have been meeting near to The Hawthorns at 6:30am for speed work sessions. This week, Coach Stu told us to do one mile reps at our 5k PB pace. For me that translates to 5:01/km (about 8:04/mile). Unfortunately, I had forgotten my Garmin, so I decided to just follow Katherine and Jenny and do my best to keep up with them. Amazingly, this strategy paid off. We followed each rep with about a 2 minute recovery. My pace was 8:05, 8:10 and 8:15. Ideally, I would be able to maintain three reps at the same pace, but given that I really didn’t think I would be able to do a single rep at that speed, I was really happy with how well I did.

On Saturday morning, I was excited about having my first chance to run at Southampton parkrun for a number of weeks. Sadly, Stu didn’t feel well, so he stayed at home. I rushed off, so that I could collect a parkrun parcel before the event, and realised after I had closed the door that I had forgotten my Garmin, which was charging. As Stu was sleeping, I didn’t want to wake him, so I decided to run without it.

I met up with Katherine and we decided to have an enjoyable run together. The first part of the run went well. We saw Di and Angela and had a chat with them as we first went up the hill. It was fairly busy, so I had to ask a few people if we could pass them, but I was enjoying the conversation and barely noticed the hill. Katherine didn’t allow me to slack off at all on the downhill, and it wasn’t long before we were tackling the hill for s second time. As we neared the top, we passed Laura. She fought back and surged past us and I commented to Katherine that I didn’t think Laura would let us be ahead of her for long. This spurred Katherine on, so we had to speed up on the downhill. We then kept pushing, until we turned the corner and got back to the Flats. At that point, Katherine encouraged me to sprint, but I was unable to pick up the pace.

parkrunning with Katherine

parkrunning with Katherine ©4ceejay

About 15m from the line I was able to find a tiny sprint, so I pushed as hard as I could.

It felt like it had been a good time, even though I had not pushed myself for the whole run and I had failed to do a warm up. I asked Katherine our time, but she hadn’t stopped her watch. She reckoned it was under 26 minutes. We then saw Laura, who said that she had recorded 25:20 on her watch. My 5k PB of 25:08 was set 596 days ago in April 2012. The closest that I had come since then was 25:32 earlier this year, so if Laura’s watch was right then I knew I would be in for a Southampton parkrun PB.

Eventually I received a text message and email with my result:

parkrun result 30/11/13

parkrun result 30/11/13

So, not a PB, but very close. I was delighted with how well I had done. I think that I should be able to beat that and am now starting to believe that sub 25 minutes is a real possibility for 2013 😀 I had a good look at the results and was also pleased to realise that I was 3/13 within my gender/age category, which is quite a good result for me.

This morning, I ran my last CC6 of 2013, which was also the final (eligible) race for the Club Participation Award. It was at Badger Farm in Winchester and my recollection of it was that it was quite flat, with the exception of a final long gentle incline to the finish, but when I arrived, several people pointed out that my memory had failed me. As usual, the brilliant local photographer Paul Hammond was on hand to record the action.

CC6 Badger Farm 1

© Paul A. Hammond

CC6 Badger Farm 2

© Paul A. Hammond

CC6 Badger Farm 3

© Paul A. Hammond

First time we passed Hammy

First time we passed Hammy © Paul A. Hammond

Having completed this CC6 twice before, I am quite familiar with the course. It starts off at the top of the hill, so there is a long downhill, before an uphill run, most of which is between two hedges, so it is difficult to overtake. My strategy was to do what I have done on my last few runs, which has been to ignore my watch and run as fast as I can, but to pace myself according to how I feel.

I adore running downhill, so this race starts exactly the way I like it. There is then a long uphill, before a relatively flat section around a field before running sandwiched between two fences for quite a long section. I could see Kirsty just ahead of me, so I decided to try to stick with her for as long as possible. I knew this would be challenging as she set a fantastic PB at parkrun yesterday, but I didn’t think it was an entirely unrealistic goal.

When we returned to the main starting field, I could still see Kirsty about 10m ahead of me, and I was feeling surprisingly good. paul managed to catch some photos which really show just how much I was enjoying the race:

CC6 Badger Farm 4

© Paul A. Hammond

CC6 Badger Farm 4

© Paul A. Hammond

CC6 Badger Farm 6

© Paul A. Hammond

I didn’t dare to look back to see who was behind me to how close they were, I just wanted to keep pushing to finish the race as quickly as possible. I knew that catching Kirsty was unlikely, but I wanted to try to match her pace. Unfortunately, I couldn’t quite manage that, but I kept pushing up the hill.

CC6 Badger Farm 7

© Paul A. Hammond

CC6 Badger Farm 8

© Paul A. Hammond

CC6 Badger Farm 10

© Paul A. Hammond

Final uphill slog

© Paul A. Hammond

Eventually, I reached the finish line. I was the 6th LRR lady and in 37th place overall, which I think is my highest ever finish in a CC6 race.

Garmin data for the race: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/411084453

CC6 Garmin data Badger Farm

How to run your best 5k (infographic)

27 Nov

I saw this cool infographic today and thought you might like it 🙂

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