This weekend sees the first of my goal races for 2019. OK, so it’s only a parkrun, but I’ve been training well for this now for the past 10 weeks, and it will all come to a head inside 21-22 minutes on Saturday at Coventry parkrun.

I’ve been trying for some time to bring my 5k time down, but mainly around training for other events. This is the first time that I’ve put in some specific training, and possibly the first time that I’ve properly followed a training plan, and I believe it’s brought me to the start line on Saturday in the best possible shape. Even the Training Peaks feature on my Fenix says so!

Shortly before starting the plan, I ran Coventry in 21:55. Five weeks in, I completed a half-way-point progress test (at the same event) in 21:29. Again, shortly before picking up the training, I did a 5 x 1k session, with 3 minutes rest in between reps, and averaged 4:11 per km. A week ago I did the same session, along the same stretch of road, but did it with 90 seconds rest in between reps and I averaged 4:08. 3 seconds per km is not a massive difference, but running faster with half the rest time does show improvement, as does the progress made up to the half way point. Not only that, but 4:08 is 4 seconds faster than goal pace, so I’m quietly confident of achieving sub-21. That being said, 30 seconds is a lot to take out of your time in just five weeks.

Quite often, runners talk up their chances pre race, and then make excuses post race as to why they didn’t achieve their goals. I tend to be the other way round, making excuses before I even line up on the start as to why I’m not going to hit my goal. That’s happened already. Did I mention that 30 seconds is a lot to take out of a 5k race time in just five weeks?

Anyway, I’ll go for it from the start and try and hang on. No starting steady with the aim of a negative split. I don’t think that works in a 5k, and especially not at Coventry where the first 1k is predominantly downhill. You have to attack from the start and that will be my aim. I also have the benefit of bringing along my very own pacer. My friend that I run with often is a sub-19 5k’er and has kindly offered to try and drag me round in under 21. And before anyone raises the argument of following pacers amounting to cheating, it absolutely is not. After all, we follow the pacer on our wrist for most training runs.

I recently heard James Dunne (Kinetic Revolution) say during a podcast that a race is just a celebration of all the miles put in during training. A good way of looking at it I think, and almost a way of allowing you to take a bit of pressure off yourself and to enjoy the event.

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