The last sixteen-ish weeks (two weeks taken off for holiday, one for a family event — give me a break), I’ve taken part in Parkrun — a five kilometre weekly race held every Saturday at 9pm.
There are thousands of Parkruns held every week across a many countries, including: Germany, France, Canada, Nambia, Italy, Norway, Russia…many countries.
I’m not going to list them all, that would be dull, but what I’m trying to say is pick a country and there’s probably a Parkrun there.
To further emphasise the previous point, here are some statistics:
- There are 1451 Parkruns worldwide every Saturday morning, with almost three million runners taking part.
- The fastest run on record is 13 minutes 48 seconds.
- My fastest time is 34:59 — evidence in link!
- I’m 673rd out of 713 runners for my specific Parkrun on Strava.
I post these stats not to boast (there’s nothing to boast about) but just to show progression.
I’m 673rd of a total of 713 people who have run this course over the last two years on Strava. I’m at the back of the pack; I’m the limping gazelle left behind by the herd to be picked off by the lion; I’m Jared Kushner, attempting to bring peace to the middle-east while failing to pick out Iran on a map.
I’m not a good runner, but I am a runner.
Over the sixteen weeks I’ve tried several strategies to improve my time. Some weeks I’ve done a sprint start and ran slow at the end; others I’ve started slow and saved up energy for a big push later on; but the only way I’ve found to get real improvement is to run at a consistant pace throughout the race.
Not slowing down, not putting on a big showy burst of speed, just running at a constant pace.
Psycologically this doesn’t feel great, when you’re running at a consistant pace you feel as though you’re working very hard for not much effect, but this is mainly because the wins come in small blips rather than the desired bug finish.
Often this feels like harder work but, for me anyway, the results often pay off with an overall faster time.
While it’s natural to feel like you should be making huge gains every week, it just doesn’t work like that, and over-working yourself in an attempt to achieve the impossible often results in a slower time and burn out.
Consistancy means getting tiny wins across the whole course, half a second here, two seconds there, which ultimately ends up as thirty seconds or every a minute of improvement each week.
There are few big wins, but every week I’m achieving something.
I’m sure there’s some moral here about writing, just pick through the bones and I’m sure you’ll find it.