Parkrun is enjoyed all over the world and allows millions of people to enjoy a free, timed run on a weekly basis. The thing we love most about parkrun at Runderwear HQ is its inclusivity - everybody is welcome! People turn up at 9am on a Saturday (9:30 in Scotland) to achieve their own individual goal; whether this is to simply complete the distance, meet up with friends or get a PB - it's all the same at Parkrun!
If you've already done a few Parkruns and are pondering ways in which you could improve your time, see these top tips from our partner Runderwear™.
1. Set yourself a lofty goal.
It helps to have something to aim for that will really push you. Something just on the realms of possibility that you would be over the moon to achieve in say 6 months time. Running a 30 min or 25 minute parkrun at the moment with not too much training? Ok, your aim is now is a minute faster which gives you a great short term goal and then set the bar higher with another minute after that for a medium term goal- you can do it!
2. Set yourself a series of realistic time improvements.
Now you're not going to magically jump to run minutes faster straight away (not without working hard) and it's going to be a series of incremental improvements, rather than a sudden huge PB. Even if you go faster by 10 seconds each week, that's going to be a minute dropped every 6 weeks.
3. Run more.
If you want to run faster at a distance of 5k then a mixture of speed work and longer distance is required. You need to get a good ‘base’ of running down as this gets your body used to running – your muscles will get more efficient, your heart will get better at pumping blood around your body, the ligaments, tendons and muscles will get stronger and you will feel more confident and more like a ‘runner’. You could increase the number of miles you run per week by upto 10% a week and still be confident that you are not overdoing it. So, if you currently run 15 miles a week, then you could up that to 16.5 and so on. Again, gradual progression is key to avoid injury or illness.
4. Run faster.
If you want to run faster - run faster! You need to teach your body to run at the pace required to hit your target time. This can be done through speed sessions comprising 5k broken down in the shorter, faster segments. This could be 5x1km with 3 minutes rest between on the roads, or 12x400m with 90 seconds recovery if you want to venture onto a track to get some more speedy running done.
5. Stay Chafe-Free.
To achieve your best possible parkrun time, you need to be able to focus on your running without ever having to worry about painful skin from rubbing on your feet or body. Runderwear make seamless underwear and the most comfortable, supportive running bras and anti-blister socks, to help runners stay comfortable mile after mile.
6. Try hill repeats.
Resistance training such a hill repeats are often touted as the best way to improve your running as they work everything hard! Training on hills improves leg-muscle strength, quickens and expands your stride, develops your cardiovascular system, enhances your running economy and forces you to adopt good running form lifting your knees higher and driving your arms.
7. Warm up before and cool down after.
It's so tempting on a cold winters day to sit in the car with the heaters on, before reluctantly going to the start line at the last minute. But they say the shorter the run, the longer the warm-up needed.
Warming up your body with an easy 10 minute jog, a little stretching and some short faster paced “sprints” will get your heart pumping, your muscles warmed up and have you raring to go at the start line - rather than yawning. The warm up could make all the difference to running well so don’t think it’s not important – it is! Same goes for the cool down. Try and do some easy jogging afterwards as it helps you recover quicker and gets you ready for the next bout of training.
Nutrition has more of an effect for longer runs (over 60 minutes) than shorter distances like 5k. However, what you eat before-hand can make a big difference. Try to eat a light breakfast (just enough to keep hunger at bay) and save your proper brekkie for afterwards. You'll really notice a full stomach when trying to go at 5k pace, especially if you're pushing for a PB. Also, ditch the water bottle! You don't need it for 5k and it's just extra weight to carry.
9. Do a Parkrun pacer event.
Some Parkruns do pacer events, with volunteers running at a set pace to help you achieve your chosen time. Try and make one of these events as it can really help - you can switch off and just follow the pacer. Choose your pace carefully though and be realistic. Make your goals achievable.