That’s it, my most recent 12 week training block has just come to a close, and it finished with one of the toughest ParkRun I’ve yet to compete in. Over the past few weeks all the Gloucester Kingsway winners had all come in in around 18/19 minutes, so I thought for once I might actually be a shoe-in for my first ParkRun win. But it wasn’t to be, because I had underestimated two things: one it was Boxing Day, and two the course was a winter one.

This meant that not only were there a lot of good runners home for Christmas and eager to run off their turkey dinners, but also there was copious amounts of mud to contend with and a slightly longer course too (about 300/400m longer). All things stacking up, my hoped for aim of posting an official 16-minute-something 5k went out the window—however I still wanted to run as fast as I could.

The gun went off—well a guy counted down 3, 2, 1, GO— and off we went. As usual I ran faster than my ability dictates in an effort to stamp my authority onto the runners behind. But after the first 200m a runner came raring past my shoulder and I tucked in behind him. Together we paced through roughly the first half mile leaving everyone else behind, but a glance at my watch showed a 4:50min/mi pace.

Even accounting for my GPS’s inaccuracy I knew I’d implode spectacularly if I kept that pace up, so I backed off, allowing him to shoot off into the distance. I ran the rest of the race alone in terms of competition, but did have to spend a large proportion of energy weaving between other runners on the narrow path and also wade through several sections of mud (nearly fell flat on my face at one point!).

In the end I posted a time of 18:12—my watch said we hit 5k in 16:53 but that’s erratic, so I think for the 5k distance proper I was under 17:10ish—which, accounting for the tough conditions, I’m quite pleased with. A 14 mile jog in the rain the next day finished off the training block and now I have a week of just three very easy runs—going to get itchy feet that’s for sure.

After that, I have nine weeks to get as fast as I can, ready and prepped for the Liverpool Half Marathon and, hopefully hopefully, a sub75 minute time. We’ll see how it goes!

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