Saturday, 25 May 2019

May parkruns

May was holiday time as I headed on a cruise from Southampton down to ports in France and Spain.  But due to the timings of the cruise, leaving on a Saturday and coming back on a Saturday, I did manage 2 English parkruns!

04/05 - First off was Newbury parkrun. There was no special reason for doing this parkrun. It was a case of discussing with my Dad which parkruns were on the way to Southampton as we drove down from Glasgow. Newbury parkrun had a Premier Inn nearby so ticked the box.  The parkrun is situated in a disused air field which means it has a very large space to use and they maximise it, as the course is a single lap.  The route doesnt go on the old runway but around it on reasonably widened paths.  When I looked around at the start it didnt actually feel like there were many people there, maybe a few hundred. Where in fact there was just over 600! Which is the second highest attendence for a parkrun I have ever participated in behind Edinburgh. Its such a wide space at the start that you feel that this parkruns capacity is not even nearly reached and there are plenty of car parks too to meet the needs.

I decided to start conservatively placing myself in the middle of the pack and never really had any problems. I gradually picked up the pace going round and ended up finishing in 28.23.

11/05 - This was probably the most planned/unplanned parkrun day I have ever had.  The ship I was on was due to get in about 4am but disembarkation was due to start till 7.30am. But we didnt really know how long it would take to get off the ship and then get the car. So the plan was to go to Southampton parkrun. I would just head straight there, getting the bus and mum and dad would take the stuff and get the car and meet me there. The parkrun was only 2 miles from the dock.  

But we ended up getting off the ship and got the car by 7.45am. So I suggested we could find a parkrun further up the road as we driving all the way up to Glasgow today.  Also Southampton parkrun is the second busiest parkrun behind Bushy most weeks. Today for example 1,200 runners so it may have taken a while to get out of Southampton. So anyway, my Dad started reeling off towns nearby asking if they had parkruns. After a few no, nos we settled on Winchester. Which wasn't too far from Southampton but gave us a wee head start for the day.  

We got to Winchester in plenty of time. The course is a bit mentally challenging with the all the loops and trying to work out the route. Although you run round cricket pitches a lot there is some extremely nice sections running along beside the river. I would say the course is about 80% grass/trail. 20% tarmac.  I had a good run today, again starting off conservatively and gradually increasing the pace.  Finishing in 27.09.  I did have one gym session duing the cruise, no running but a lot of walking which must have done the trick.

18/05 - No running of a parkrun today due to running a Millport 10 mile fun run on the Sunday. But I did volunteer down at Drumchapel parkrun for the first time.  I know the event/run director there from Rouken Glen and as he was run director at Drumchapel that I said I would help out.  I was number checker which is a very easy job at Drumchapel due to the low numbers they get. 34 today. But it does mean more time to chat and they have a really good bunch at Drumchapel.

The Milport 10 miler the next day went better than expected. I had a restless night the night before and felt rubbish when I woke up.  I actually phoned my brother to say I won't bother today but he talked me into going.  I hadn't done a long run since the start of April where training had been going really well up until that point.  But I still got round with a lot of thanks to my brother for running with me even though he could have gone a lot faster.  It was a good catch up more than anything. I managed to run 10k distance fine and took 3, 60 second walkbreaks to the end.  But a great day out with my brother and his family. Glad I went.

25/05 - Back to running parkruns. Today I went to Pollok for the first time since the start of March. I was half thinking I should be in line for my fastest Pollok time in while since my times have come down a fair bit this year.  On the other hand I haven't been doing many hilly parkruns recently so it was interesting to see how I would fair today. The answer though was positive. I paced it well and my legs felt good pretty much all the way round and the hills didn't seem that difficult.  Finished in 29.33 which is my first sub 30 at Pollok this year.

Overall a pretty good month for parkruns. I would say my training hasn't been as good during the week due to holiday and recovering from the Milport 10 miler. So hoping I can get into more of a routine again.

In terms of my challenge to average under 30 minutes over the course of the year things are going good and current average is 29 minutes 32 seconds and thats me up to 20 parkruns, run so far this year.

Sunday, 28 April 2019

April parkruns

March was such a good month and April started in the same mould.  9 and a half mile long run on the first day of the month. Longest run in years.  But that was only the start of a very up and down month.

06/04 - First parkrun of the month was off to Portobello.  Prior to this I had my biggest training week of the year and including this run I was up at 22 miles.  So my legs were slightly tired going into it.  In my mind I just thought to take it easy today and just enjoy it.  Portobello is a very nice course and attracts about 300 runners a week.  Its 3 laps, which go round the lake then up the river, over a bridge then back down the other side the river then round the lake.  Its pretty much flat, more lumps all the way round. Nothing too taxing or that you could call a hill. I felt comfortable all the way round and had plenty in the tank for a sprint finish.  Finished in 31.20.

After this run though, the next week I got ill and had to take 3 days off work and then for the first time this year miss a parkrun.  Which was due to be Pollok but that will have to wait another day.

20/04 - This was my biggest parkrun trip yet as I headed up to Alness which is north of Inverness.  I headed up on the Friday and stayed in a great B & B which was about 5 minutes walk away from the park.  It was a warm day and 160 folk in attendence.   I was looking forward to this as it does have a bit of a reputation as being a good one. And it did not disappoint.  Its an out and back course which goes along beside the river, then opens up a bit out to the sea staying on trail like surfaces. Then it goes up along a pier, right to the end and then you turn back and retrace your steps.  I thought I started quite slow as for the first mile I was keeping up with the 30 minute pacer.  I decided not to check my watch.  Turns out I ran the first mile in 8.40!  I slowed up a bit in the second mile but kept it going in the 3rd mile to finish in my second quickest time this year in 26.53.  A great and fast course.

Then the next week I started to feel dodgy again but not enough to keep me off work, but enough to stop me running.  That was until Friday, when I nearly got to work, felt absolutley terrible, crossed to the other platform and took the train straight home.  I was wiped out and haven't felt that bad for a long time.  So Saturday parkrun cancelled again where I was meant to be tailwalking at Pollok.  One day I'll get back there!

Milport 10 miler training was going so well, hopefully I haven't lost too much fitness and can get a bit more training in before the race next month.  

Also 11 for 11 parkrun scotland challenge has started. I did 10 for 10 last year but this year you have to volunteer at least 11 times if you want to get anything more than silver.  It shouldn't be a problem getting silver if I keep volunteering at Rouken glen on Sundays.  But to get gold you need to run 11 different events and volunteer 11 different events.  Don't fancy travelling for junior events and missing too many at Rouken glen. So that would mean sacrificing more runs on a Saturday.  I have an initial plan to do this so I'll see how it goes.

As for average time it should still be under 30 as this month I averaged under 30!

Sunday, 31 March 2019

March parkruns

02/03 - Back at Pollok for the first time in 3 weeks. Did something a bit different today and started my watch when I crossed the start line rather than when they shout go and their timers started.  I wanted to see how long it took to cross the start line which was 30 seconds today.  As usual the first k was a bit slow as pace is very much dictated. But I got into my running after that and ended up just under 30 minutes watch time and 30.22 official parkrun time.  The official time was actually my second fastest time on the new route at Pollok.  I'm slowly getting used to it!

09/03 - Out for another adventure today as I was up to Dunfermline for their parkrun in Pittencrief park.  I stayed in Holiday Inn Express the night before near Dunfermline Queen Margaret station.  It was about 2 and half miles from the start so decided that was a bit too long a warm up so took the train from queen margaret to Dunfermline town and had a 0.7 mile jog warm up from the station to the start via the abbey to arrive with 10 minutes to spare to the start of the run.  At the first timers briefing the guy made it clear it was a hilly course and it was 3 laps so it was good to be mentally prepared in that respect.

At the start, I posistioned myself about half way down the pack. And got into my running straight away, absoultely no problems during in the entire run of getting stuck behind people or anything like that. The paths are nice and wide and there was 138 runners today.  There is one main hill you go up on each lap which I adjusted my pace for and made it up pretty comfortably each time.  To be honest I couldn't tell you how bad it was as I make a habit of looking at the ground when going up hills rather than looking up as I tend to find it mentally easier not seeing how far I have to go up it.  But to give you an idea of difficulty there were people around me that were walking up it on the first lap.  There are many undulations dotted around the loop but apart from the main loop the rest does feel quite flat and downhill.

I was delighted with my time as I dipped below 29 minutes with a 28.51.  Its my best time on a hilly course for quite sometime and as my Dad says considering I didn't know the course before hand its harder to know what pace to set out at so a good run.

16/03 - I wasn't sure what parkrun I was going to do today. The weather was dodgy so it was a case of waiting till 8.30am and seeing who was going to cancel and who was going to be on.  Drumchapel, Pollok, Ruchill and Linwood all cancelled but noone else had declared they were actually on so I gambled on the least likely to be off and headed for Tollcross. I thought it might be the alt course due to ice but it turned out the grass was actually slippier than the paths. So it was normal course. Although the run director in the briefing did say to take care as it was a bit slipply in places.

I took this on board and set off pretty conservatively.  The weather was pretty wild with sleety rain pouring for the majority.  But after the first lap I realised the underfoot conditions weren't really that bad and I could pick things up in the second lap.  I finished just over 30 minutes which I'll take on that course but I know if I was I bit more free flowing on the downhills on the first lap I would have been under 30.

23/03 - Today's adventure was back up to Aberdeen for Hazlehead parkrun. My hotel was about a mile and half away from the start but I decided just to walk rather than have a jog warm up to save myself for the actual run. It was a glorius day.  Its an out and back course up a wide trail path which runs along beside a golf course.  The first mile is a gradual uphill and I was a bit surprised when I looked at my watch to see I had done it in 10 minutes.  I know I wasn't going all out but I did think I was going a wee bit quicker than that. At the same time I was running well within myself but I did think it might be a slow one today.  The next mile which included the turn around I picked up the pace a bit and ran 8.50.  Then I really got into my stride when running down the hill to the finish and ended up finishing in 27 minutes and 11 seconds.  30 seconds quicker than my time up in Aberdeen the previous month and my fastest time in any parkrun since June 2017. My last mile was 8 minutes.  Delighted with it.

30/03 - Today was a last minute decision to do Linwood parkrun as I hadn't done it for a while and its one of my favourites. Met Finola from junior parkrun at the start and after half a mile we realised we were going the same pace so chatted for a bit. After the first mile I started to pull away. She could have gone a lot faster I think but she was saving herself for Tom Scott 10 miler the next day.  I felt pretty good all the way round and gradually increased the pace in the second and third miles. I ended up with a time of 26.41. 30 seconds quicker than the previous week. A great way to end what has been my best month of running in some time.

In my challenge to get my parkruns below 30 minutes on average this year. Overall I am now 29.49, thanks to some quick times this month.

Monday, 25 February 2019

February parkruns

02/02 - The weather for this one was a bit dodgy. The previous day tempretures got down to -6 in Glasgow and some parkruns called off on the Friday with others in the Glasgow area holding off till Saturday morning to declare.  I had it in my mind to go to Tollcross again as I they had the good XC course. It came to Saturday morning and I was a lot more prepared than usual to deal with the elements and also cancelations.  I got down to my car for 8.15 and got rid of all the ice.  In the past I have missed parkruns due to not descraping quick enough - not today! I checked my phone and refreshed facebook reguarly for updates.  Victoria was first to declare it was on. I waited till about half past and no one else had posted yet. So I thought to just go for Victoria.

When I got there it was reasonably busy but it was quieter than I thought considering Pollok, Linwood and Ruchill were off plus Victoria is usually very busy at the moment.  The run itself was good. I think I started a bit too far back as for the first lap the pace was very much dictacted. For the second and third laps there was a lot more room so I actually ran a pretty good pace for me.  As it was the alternative course it was slightly longer so I reckon I would have been under 29 minutes if it was the normal course but I still managed under 30 coming in at 29.45.

09/02 - I went on a run on the Tuesday at work which was to change the way I want to approach running. It was a great run, I really pushed it and got round the route faster than I ever have before. Well below sub 30 min 5k pace.  However it took me days to recover from it and I did feel a bit dazed for the next few days as my body recovered. It made me realise that I was trying to race too many runs and I needed to take it easier if I am going to improve and be able to run more.

So with this in mind I went along to Pollok on the Saturday with my new easy approach mentality. I'm not going to say it was easy as the words "Pollok" and "easy" don't really go together. But I did run it more conservatively than I otherwise would and ended up doing it in 32.13. I realise this strategy is going to mess up my goal of averaging below 30 mins for parkruns throughout the year. But I am thinking of changing it so I do one all out effort a month.  This is something I used to do when I was a lot more successful a runner and I think it may be the way forward. I'll try it anyway and see how it goes.

16/02 - What a difference a week makes.  I have had a really good week running and I rept the rewards today.  It was Springburn parkrun time and I started off the run chatting to Pauline who is the ED at Rouken glen. Although she quickly realised I wanted to run slower and she wanted to run faster so off she went.  I maintained a comfertable pace all the way round and felt really good.  I looked at my watch when I finished to see 28.31. I could not believe it. A seasons best and the best I have run since I last did Springburn in September last year.

23/02 - I was due to run Pollok today according to the schedule. But that schedule has now gone out the window. I saw the weather forecast earlier in the week was meant to be good for the weekend. I fancied a bit of adventure so headed up to Aberdeen after work on the Friday and stayed overnight within a short walk of the start of Aberdeen parkrun.  This was an extremely good run. It is an out and back course. But the out is beside the road on a wide pavement with plenty of room for the 300 runners.  It takes a while before you get views down to the beach but they do come.  At the turning point you go down to the bottom path which is nearer to the beach so no problems at all with people getting in the way as you are on 2 different paths.  The path on the way back does have slight inclines and delines but this is a very flat and fast course. 

In terms of my own performance it couldn't have gone any better. Getting faster each mile and at no point I would say I was feeling it while putting in a good effort. I think taking it easier and have more runs during the week is starting to pay off. Time was easily a seasons best 27.40

So after saying I would scrap the average time thing in week 2 of this month. I have ended up getting an average of below 30 minutes this month. So average parkrun time this month was 29.32. And out of January and February average I have reduced it to 30.23.

Sunday, 27 January 2019

January 2019

Well on the whole 2019 has kicked off fairly good.  Out of 6 parkruns on offer this month I did all 6.

01/01 - On New years day its double parkrun day. Although to be honest at the start of the day I was only thinking about doing one parkrun as I have not really been doing enough training to manage two.  So I turned up to Pollok and gave it a good effort.  I did have to walk in my ususal spot but apart from that had a pretty good run and ended up with a time of 31.51.

After the run I got talking to folk who were asking if I was doing the double.  And eventually I just thought - well why not! So I drove over to Victoria parkrun for round 2.  It was very busy with around 500 runners. I had a good run and was getting faster with each lap.  There was a queue to cross the finish line so by my watch I was just about 30 minutes but my actual time was 30.20.  Not too far away then.

05/01 - Next up was a trip across to Ruchill where I suddenly realised I had gatecrashed another Runbetweeners meetup (Although this one I didn't know about! honest lol.) It was good catching up with them before and after the run. The run itself was very good.  This was the 7th time I have done Ruchill and this was the first time I had broken 30 minutes. My actual parkrun time was a bit faster than watch time due to the timer being a bit out of sync with the token sorting. But over the course of the year it will balance itself out especially as some of my times have already been slower due to queues at the finish line.  But anyway my parkrun time was 29.07 and watch time 29.37.  So pleased with it either way.

12/01 - Back at Pollok and it was extremely busy and not far off the record with 596 runners.  Again I had a good run and finished round about 30 minutes.  But due to the queue at the finish line the timer didnt click me till 30.40. 

19/01 - The forecast wasn't great for this day and the previous night it had been snowing. So I thought it would be best to be on the safe side and go to a parkrun with an alternative course. So the chosen one today was Tollcross which I hadn't been to for a while.  Turns out it was icy on the main course so they used the alternative. This is 4 laps on the grass and pretty hilly.  I really didn't know how to pace it so just took it easy.  I did really enjoy this one and it was good to see Jacqui as run director who I knew from my Giffnock days.  Also bumped into Doug and his friend who I know from Rouken Glen.  I finished this one in 32.14. Reckon I should be going faster than that but hopefully that will come as the year progresses.

26/01 - I had one of those days with this one where it was an achievement just to start the run.  I was just not in the frame of mind for it at all. Sitting in my car at Pollok wondering if I should just wait for it to start then drive home. But with about 5 minutes to go I saw my brother and thought to myself I can't not do it now.  So got out the car and headed to the start.  I caught up with one of the run directors Alan in the first mile. And to be honest for the first couple of miles I was paying no attention to how fast I was going.  Apart from talking to Alan my mind was well and truely away with it.  Then when I got to the bottom of the glade for the second time I realised I had a lot left in the tank and actually recorded a segment PR for the bottom of the glade to the burrell which was even faster than my brothers time who ran the course 5 minutes faster than me today.  I finished in 31.35 realising that I know I am fitter than that time shows but today was just an achievement completing it.  With it being on every week your not always going to be at the races every week.

So overall a very good month.  I know I went on a bit about timings not reflecting my watch times. I honestly realise that just happens and will do more as parkrun gets more popular.  The reason I focus on it is that one of my challenges this year is to try and get my average parkrun time below 30 minutes.  At the moment for January my average is 30:58.  So I'll just need to get faster and get sub 30s to the point where queueing is not an excuse!

Sunday, 30 December 2018

2019 goals

As usual this year I have gone through the process of thinking about stepping up the distances in 2019 and applied for half marathon and a marathon. Then it comes to doing the training and it never seems to go to plan for the last few years for various reasons. Once again I am now thinking just purely to focus on parkruns and hopefully get my times down a bit.  I've broken down my aims below

Average time for parkruns - sub 30

My main focus this year will be on my average time for a parkrun over the course of the year.  These are my average times over the last 4 years:

2015 - 30.36 - 35 parkruns
2016 - 28.12 - 28 parkruns
2017 -  31.04 - 35 parkruns
2018 -  31.52 - 46 parkruns

I am aiming to try for sub 30 average which will be a challenging target going by previous years and especially if I end up doing hillier parkruns more like last year. But hopefully this will give me more focus during the week and mean it will be nessesary to do more speedwork/hill work.

Which parkruns to do?

I thought one of the things that worked well in 2018 and led to me running so many parkruns was running my home parkrun Pollok every second time. It keeps things interesting visiting other runs while still touching base regularly at Pollok.  The 10 for 10 challenge was also good as to get gold it was a case of getting out every week.  If a challenge does come along like that again I would be open to doing it.  I have a few planned parkruns down south already and I would like to do more different Scottish parkruns although I'm not really fussed which ones they are - just different ones to the ones I have done.  In saying that in terms of the Glasgow parkruns I am definitley aiming to get my p index to 7 which will take 4 runs. And hopefully get towards p index of 8 which it would take an extra 5 runs.  My plan is to stick to Glasgow runs during winter January to March, then November and December. Then April to October do runs further a field. While of couse doing Pollok every second week throughout the year.  But on top of that if anyone I know starts going they fancy doing this parkrun or that running that week I would change and just do that.


The biggest milestone I should hit this year is my 200th parkrun. Currently I am on 175.  I am on course to also hit my 100th Pollok parkrun where currently I am on 88. This is the second year of my 3 year plan to hit 250. I beat my target last year giving me a bit of extra room in 2019.  So my target is to reach 210 parkruns this year, meaning 35 parkruns for the calender year. But of course anything on top of that is a bonus and I'm not planning on taking days off unless of course I need to.

Another target I should hit a quarter cowl which is 25th different parkrun location. I am on 23 at the moment so something would have to really go wrong not to hit that one. The next target after that is the half cowel which I will eat into next year but I'll be nowhere near hitting it due to other priorities.


Not a parkrun goal.  This is just one to add some interest for me on my local runs.  It was inspired by an ultra runner in America called Rickey Gates who this year ran every street in San Francisco.  I'm not planning to run every street in Glasgow.  But I have got an area in the southside near to me that I want to run every street in. Not sure how many miles it is but I'll just see how this pans out throughout the year.

Saturday, 29 December 2018

2018 Review (Warning may mention parkrun a few times)

I didn't do a blog for November or December as my memory seems to be getting worse as to what actually happened at the parkruns I did these months. I did manage all 4 available in November and did 4/6 in December. One week I missed due to dodgy weather where it looked like conditions may have developed during parkrun where freezing rain would fall meaning widespread ice.  I was more concerned with traveling across icy roads on the way home so just left it. Then the following week I was ill for the first time in ages so that was the reason I took that week off.

But the second half of 2018 I had an amazing run in terms of turning up to parkrun. In fact those 2 parkruns I missed as per above were the only parkruns I missed since August.  Meaning a 4 and half month streak.  I did pick up that injury achilies injury in July which put me out for 3 weeks but have had no problems with it since.  The first half of the year it took me a while to get that elusive sub 30 but I did manage it at Catterick in April. Then I had a sprinkling of sub 30s throughout the year.  One aim was to get a sub 30 at Pollok which was made harder with a change to the course half way through the year. I only managed this once out of 22 attempts.

I took part in one challenge this year which was the 10 for 10 challenge. Celebrating 10 years of parkrun in Scotland.   The challenge was to complete/volunteer at 10 different parkruns and the quicker you did it the better your medal. I managed gold, completing 8 different parkruns running and volunteering at the 2 junior parkruns.  Looking back I feel I cheated myself a bit on this one as I only did one course I hadn't done before and all the parkruns I did were easy to get to. But still challenge completed.

One of the goals I had for this year was to complete every parkrun in Glasgow area 5 times. I did this plus a bit more as I have now completed every parkrun in the Glasgow area 6 times. Midway through the year I found out about the p index which is where you run x amount of parkruns x times and your p index is x.  So this is basically what I have been doing so my p index is currently 6 and I am not too far away from 7.

Another goal was to run 41 parkruns as part of a 3 year plan to get my 250 shirt by 2020.  This was a target I easily achieved having run 46 parkruns this year and I have now run 175 runs total.

Here is some more stats:

Parkrun break down (no of runs at each event)

Pollok - 22
Linwood - 4
Ruchill - 4
Drumchapel - 3
Springburn - 2
Victoria - 2
Tollcross - 1
Greenock - 1
Falkirk - 1

New parkruns done this year - Troon, Catterick, Plean, Lanark Moor, Camperdown and Rising Sun


27-28 mins - 2
28-29 mins - 2
29-30 mins - 6
30 + mins - 35

Average parkrun time = 31.52

I did not hit any of my target times set out at the start of the year and I know for a fact that in terms of over 30 minute runs this was my worst ever.  This is something I need to improve on for next year and I have a few ideas on how to achieve this.  Out of the 46 parkruns I did I should note that only 12 I would deem to have done on flat courses. And out of the 10 sub 30s I did do 8 came on flat courses and 2 hilly.  That means I did 34 runs in what I would deem hilly courses which is quite a high percentage. So I certainly dont make it easy for myself to actually get good times.

But overall I have really enjoyed this year.  From volunteering and hanging out with folk more down at Rouken Glen juniors, to gatecrashing parkruns that the Runbetweeners happen to be doing at the same time ;-), to venturing further a field with family to do different parkruns during holidays, to hanging with Campbell and Mico on my visits to both Falkirk and Plean and then of course coming home to Pollok more where it all started for me.