Am I still capable of a parkrun PB?

How do we know when there is no longer any chance of a PB?

1 to 20 of 27 messages
06/12/2012 at 18:59

I'm 38 and have been running seriously for the last couple of years, imrpoving my 5 and 10km PBs each year. I feel like I should still be capable of more PBs, but what are the chances? Surely time is running out!

What can I do to hold back the sands of time and prolong my chance sof a PB?

I have started to have a few thoughts about this:

But I'd love to know what ohers think.

06/12/2012 at 20:04

It's not about age it's about years of consistent structured training and luck with injuries.

Of course your peak may be slower in your late 30s than if you'd started late teens, but you've many years to go on improving I'm sure.

How do you define "running seriously." That'll give us a clue...

06/12/2012 at 20:36

Well I run at least 3 and sometimes 4 times a week, though my weekly distances only averages around 20 miles. I joined a running club this year. My most common fast runs (as they aren't races) are at parkrun. I have a 17:28 5km PB and a 36:47 10 km PB.

I know its possible to improve. Its the how that I need to work out. Higher mileage, more flexibility and shedding a bit of weight would probably be factors.

seren nos    pirate
06/12/2012 at 20:38

my hubby is 52....bbben running for 6 years and still getting PB's........

 give up on PB's when you stop breathing

06/12/2012 at 20:38

cripes man, 3-4 times a week is barely training, let alone in any way serious.

I bet you just run as hard as you like on those runs as well don't you

Some tidy results off so little running though.

06/12/2012 at 20:44

Parkrun Fan - Love the blog ... but then I'm a regular reader I reckon you'll still be kicking my arse at Coventry parkrun for a few years!

06/12/2012 at 21:16

52and still getting PBs - that is impressive! It sounds like I'll be ok for a while yet then!

Stevie G - I struggle to find the time for more running than that - young kids. But I'm trying to work out a training plan with some static cycling, and maybe some core strength work too. And then maybe get more consistent on the 4 runs a week rather than 3.

Ah yes Sarah, I recognise the photo. A Coombe 8 runner a few weeks back too I remember.

06/12/2012 at 21:27

Good memory!

06/12/2012 at 21:51

We all slow down with age, just look at footballers for example, there's  not many wingers in the football league after 35

 they lose a yard of pace.In my 20's my average time for the half marathon was around 1:24 now 20 years on it's more like 1:45 on the same amount of training , i've adjusted my targets & with that still enjoy the challenge as much as i did in my younger days.A mate once said to me he no longer ran because he could'nt run as fast as he could in his youth, i said to him maybe he should grow old gracefully & accept that there's certain thing's we can no longer do.If i continued chasing pb's over the years maybe i would have taken the same attitude & quit, i no longer record any times just enjoy the well being running gives.

06/12/2012 at 22:17

The slowing down with age is a fascinating question but I'm inclined to think that our abilities fade with age much more slowly than is commonly assumed.

The record books are bound to show quite a steep falling off after 40-45 because, until recently, the numbers still training regularly past these ages was very low.

As for going past your parkrun time of 17:28 at age 38 it is basically there on a plate for you if you want it enough.

I ran regularly until 1993 and then gave up until 2008, annual parkrun PBs since then have been:
2008: 21:09
2009: 18:37
2010: 18:03
2011: 17:33
2012: 17:25 (twice)
2013: ??:??

Will I go faster at age 47 in 2013 or not? Who knows but I've got my eye on a 16:XX and will enjoy trying to get there

If we dont try we wont know.........



Edited: 06/12/2012 at 22:18
06/12/2012 at 22:40

Parkrunfan, those times are very impressive & credit to you in achieving them. One question, to improve as you have have you had to increase the intensity of your training to achieve this? As my times have shown a gradual decline on the same amount training.

06/12/2012 at 22:58

In effect, you become a new runner again after a long break albeit with a bit more knowledge of the HOW than if you were a completely new starter.

As such, you would expect at least 3-5 years of progressive improvements as the infrastructure rebuilds its strength and capillary networks expand etc. So, yes, the ability to withstand more intense training does increase year on year.

It is this progression vs the age decline that is going to provide the fascination over the next 2-3 years. A fun battle.

I think I would take most pleasure from managing an actual HM pb before it becomes impossible, which stands at 1:14:04 from 1993. I managed 1:18:41 a couple of months ago but that it still a sizable gap to close. The scale of the challenge would make achieving it all the more satisfying though!

06/12/2012 at 23:08

Best of luck with your target, that's a very impressive time  in your 20's, to beat it 20 years on would be remarkable, it's a Everest to climb but would be one hell of an achievement.

07/12/2012 at 06:45

I ran 41:33 for 10k last month - it's my second fastest time (pb 40:44), just beating the 41:34 I ran 23 years ago when I was 18 - it had a monster of a hill in it too!

Obviously there is an issue of slowing down with aging, but I think for the vast majority of runners the limiting factor is our training rather than our bodies. On the Marathon Talk podcast they talk about our own personal training budget - how much time/effort etc. you are prepared to give. I've got 4 kids - youngest is now 7, so my budget is not as great as I would like for running (though overall I prefer my family life to being single), but has increased from say 6 years ago.

If 3 or 4 times a week and 20 miles is your budget, you may be able to squeak a little more improvement with cannier training, but you may well have to accept that you are not likely to improve much. if you were to increase your budget you would almost certainly see an improvement in your times (but maybe not your family relationships). You may be able to squeeze in some more time for running by looking at any times you can fit runs in without much impact on everyone else - take a child with you in a buggy, run commute, get up early and run while everyone else is asleep (that's what I do) etc. Ultimately though remember that unless you give up work and run full time, you will always get to a point where your performance is limited by the amount of time and effort you can give and you have to learn to accept that.

07/12/2012 at 06:46

A quicker fix would be to come down and run Poole parkrun - it's flat as a pancake!

07/12/2012 at 08:10

there'll be bluebirds over....,, I agree that there must come a point where you either change your targets or get very frustrated. Much more likely to fall out of love with running if we do that. I think that is why I want to focus on some PBs now whilst I can as I alrady know that in a few years time the focus will have to be elsewhere.

parkrunfan - we meet again! Well with 9 years on me and reasonably similar parkrun PB records you certainly give me a lot of hope. 16:XX would be nice. I think it is achieveable with a good 2 or 3 years. Injury free is key for me. As an ex semi-pro footballer, its the old football injuries that I need to prevent returning.

exiled claret - yes, with 3 young kids myself, training time (budget) is tricky. Your ideas could work for me. parkrun has recently become time that me and my eldest (8 years) spend toegether. This means I do less on a Saturday and at jogging pace. My commute is 35 miles - so running isn't really an option. But working from home twice a week helps. I always run on the Tuesday at home, but Friday I haven't for ages, saving myself for parkrun. But combine the two factors and I can run an extra run on a Friday lunchtime, still do parkrun with my son, and maybe be more consistent doing a sunday long run without the strain of a fast Saturday parkrun. This could work out. I may even manage a consistent 4 runs a week and sometimes 5 that way.

And yes, with 150+ parkrun events in the UK, there is always the option of PBs at different courses - that should keep me going a while when lifetime PBs become impossible!

08/12/2012 at 21:26
I usually do a hilly parkrun and today did a flat one (although it was on grass rather than Tarmac) to get a PB by a minute and two seconds. Still 3 minutes or so faster than my previous effort on the same flat parkrun as today, which was in July of this year.
09/12/2012 at 14:56

Sounds like a good plan Nykie. Find a fast flat course, especially when all else fails.

09/12/2012 at 14:59

The next stage for me in plotting how to get some spring-time PBs has been to work out the factors that I can control over the coming weeks and months. These will become the focus of my training plan for the months ahead.

If you have any further sugestions of factors I can control and focus on then these may help with the next stage of planning.

10/12/2012 at 22:20
Ha! I didn't do that flat parkrun just for a PB! And I'll be going back to the hilly one next week, as my car won't be in the garage near the flat one
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