Running a sub 20 minute 5k ParkRun

At the start of 2018, I ran my first ParkRun. Relatively new to running I got around Sheffield’s Endcliffe ParkRun in 21:55, and a burning desire to run the course in under 20 minutes was born. But how was I going to do it, I was running my first ParkRun at race tempo. Honestly, I wasn’t sure this was going to be possible.

sub 20 minute 5k ParkRun ?‍♂️?? ‘

How I ran a sub 20 minute 5k ParkRun

I was slowly getting more and more into running, and I was mixing up distances and workouts. Throughout the next few months little did I know that I would have run a half marathon, several fell races and 3 marathons before I’d run a sub 20 minute 5k ParkRun.

It took me my 7th attempt to break the sub 20 barrier, and it wasn’t easy. The problem I found with consistently getting to the ParkRun is the fact it is on a Saturday morning. Usually after a few too many beers the night before.

Tim Slack ParkRun recordI bought a running book called Build your running body. It is really useful in developing a more educated understanding of how to improve running performance. It talks about muscle fibres and details the breadth of variety required in different runs to develop a better running body.

6 months of casual training

By my 3rd time running the ParkRun, I’d shaved my time down to 20:24. The realisation began to mount in my mind about the ability that I could potentially do this. To put into context the time between my ParkRuns, the first one I ran was 3rd February and this third attempt was on 12th May.

My fourth, fifth and sixth attempts were all in close succession in June, with the fourth and fifth slowly worsening up to 21:25 but then the sixth attempt on 23rd June was 20:05. I had managed to shave it down to only 5 seconds off my target time. I was ecstatic, but next Saturday I’d committed to running Ladybower marathon and my momentum was lost.

After a long recovery from the marathon, I began training again but kept missing the Endcliffe ParkRun. I even ended up running the Dovedale Dipper Marathon before I got round to attempting the ParkRun again. Then on Saturday 25th August, six and a half months after my first ParkRun I decided to stay in the night before to give myself the best opportunity to run a sub 20 minute 5k ParkRun.

Tim Slack Running Endcliffe ParkRun

On my 7th ParkRun, I’d got there. It was brutally hard maintaining any pace on the second lap of the course. My 4th kilometre came in at 4:21 and it felt like success was slipping through my fingers. I find that I don’t run as well in the morning compared to running in the evening. Despite this I managed to make it around the Endcliffe ParkRun in 19:50, the 4:21 kilometre helped push my average pace to 4:01/km. Sadly, I’m doubtful that I’d have been able to cover the 60m remaining to make it a full 5km in under 20 minutes but hey, who cares!

I’m still absolutely chuffed that I managed to do it, onto the next goal now, maybe I can get it sub 19 minutes in 2019. I can dream anyway…

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