Parkrun Training Plan-Thoughts?

15 messages
16/10/2012 at 14:23

I'm looking to get my 5k time down to sub 20 from 24 minutes. My home parkrun is in Oldham which is quite hilly with a 60m overall climb shown on the 'mapmyrun' website, so it's probably not the easiest of the parkruns to set a good time. There are flatter locally but the hills seem to be doing the job as I've PB'd my first five weekly parkruns and am now down to 22 minutes. I'm prettty new to the training but understand their needs to be a balance between recovery and intensity, although what that balance is for me I am guessing, so if you have any thoughts I'd be keen to hear. My training looks like this:-

Saturday-Parkrun 5k, then high intensity bike reps 20 secs x 4 separated by 2 minutes, each rep peaks at about 1,100 watts so very intense and cannot walk or talk for at least 10 minutes after. I finish off with a single set of squats at about 80-90kg for strength.


Monday-'HIT' Bike reps as above.

Tuesday-Slow run for circa 30-45 minutes, nice easy pace.

Wednesday-'HIT' Bike reps then 3 x 1km reps on the treadmill each at 3 minute 30 seconds 1% incline, 2 minute breaks.

Thursday-off or maybe very light trot for 15 minutes

Friday-as above


It's difficult to taper my training when I'm going for a time every Saturday. I make Saturday the toughest day as it's the furthest from the next Parkrun then take off the Thursday and Friday before race day.


16/10/2012 at 14:27

i'd include some longer runs in there too. get out there running for an hour or more at least once a week. even a relatively short race like a 5k is fuelled 95% aerobically (i'm just repeating what I've read verbatim I'm afraid, but if you google or search this forum you'll find evidence of this somewhere), so improving your aerobic fitness will naturally bring your times down too. Just don't try to race these longer runs at the same pace, take it nice and slow - conversational pace (pace at which you can/could hold a conversation with another runner)

16/10/2012 at 14:31

I'm no expert at this - but if you want to improve your running time, you need to do more running.  The cycling isn't going to adversely affect your running, but I doubt its given you as much help as you think it does.

If you can do 22 mins, then you should be able to break 20 mins as your current training isn't ideal.  As you've said its difficult when your trying to run faster every week.

How about replacing the cycling with running, and aiming for breaking 20 mins in six weeks time, rather than trying every week?

There's plenty of six-week 5k plan available on this web site and via google


16/10/2012 at 14:37

I'd agree with AG about the long run. Took my PB from 20:52 to 20:20 in the space of five weeks during recent marathon training and I predominantly attribute it to the much longer runs that I had been doing in preparation. I'd also suggest adding some interval and tempo running to your schedule - perhaps replace one of your HIIT sessions on the bike with alternating weeks of a tempo session and an interval session.

17/10/2012 at 15:05

"There are flatter locally but the hills seem to be doing the job as I've PB'd my first five weekly parkruns and am now down to 22 minutes."


It is not uncommon for a first-timer to run consistent PB's when they start out just by running once a week.

21/10/2012 at 22:47

Thanks for the advice, introduced a longer 45 minute run on Thursday as recommended and PB'd again on Saturday this time by 15 seconds, thanks all. Only getting 22 minutes at the moment which is not that great, but the course is quite hilly

As soon as i get beneath 22 i will pop down to south manchester parkrun which is flat as a pancake (only 11m climb-Oldham is 60m- and average/median time 2 minutes quicker). Would love to run under 20 minutes for now, then take things from there. Have also been dropping wait from 14st 1lb to current 13st 7lb in a month which must also help

Thanks again.. 

05/11/2012 at 13:17

I hope you don't mind if i jump on this thread too. My home parkrun is Nonsuch and in Feb I was super pleased to achieve a PB of 23:54 but then had to stop running due to an injury.  I'm now fully recovered and began running again in July.  Obviously the 5 month gap means I have lost fitness so my return runs were around 27:00.  I have made some improvement to 26:30 but my long term goal still remains to get as close to 20:00 as I can!

I know this will take some time and a lot of effort but am not sure if my current training plan is sensible.  Currently my week looks like this:

Mon - 30 min core followed by 60 min body balance class

Tues - 5K pre-breakfast run

Wed - 60 min circuit training

Thurs - 20 min swim

Fri - off

Sat - parkrun

Sun - 60 min circuit training

From reading the previous thread responses would I be better off changing my Tues morning run to 30-45mins as opposed to a set distance?  Should I combine swimming with a run or just swap it?

Any suggestions would be most welcome! Thanks all

05/11/2012 at 13:45

Sue, if you want to keep generally fit, then carry on. If you want to run fast you need to run more. Much more. Some basics here:

06/11/2012 at 20:17

Thanks for the link Dr. Dan It's a very interesting (and somewhat overwhelming) thread.  One thing is abundantly clear though, it's about a gradual build up of miles over many weeks.  Patience seems to be the key so, Ive decided to make a concerted effort to follow the advice and plan my week to include easy but long runs.

In fact feeling inspired this morning instead of trying to charge around 5K as fast as possible before leaving for work I went for an easy run just to see how many miles I can cover at a sensible wasn't many but I actually enjoyed it loads more.  So much so i'm going to get up even earlier so I have more time to do it.

12/11/2012 at 14:20

Quick update, I've now pb'd my first nine parkruns back to back, which is nice. On Saturday just gone I knocked off another 24 seconds, to bring my time down to 21.13. As i've said the course is quite hilly so i think this might also help with the improvements.

My routine has not changed much:-

Saturday=Parkrun then FXI session (toughest day)

Sunday=Weights session but not on legs.

Monday=3x1km sprints with 3 to 5 minute breaks at 3min 20secs per KM

Tuesday=FXI session

Wednesday=Long slow treadmill run of 1 hour at about 7mph and 1% incline

Thursday=Just pottering about in the gym nothing too strenuous

Friday= 1 mile slow to stop my legs from seizing up.

Here is the link to the FXI website explaining the clinical research

and here is the link to my results so far, granted I'm still pretty much a beginner to consistent running training so under no illusions that the PB's should soon start to taper off and the party will be over, but until then......


21/11/2012 at 17:16

hi FWIW here is my opinion

1. Long runs - yes they are important even for 5k which is not so far really. But personally I can't see the point of a long 'slow' run for YOU especially if you are time pressed. Then again i guess it depends on what anyone means by 'slow'. HR Zone 2 going into Zone 3 would be my suggestions for a long run's metrics and you should be doing that for 60+++++ minutes

2. 1000watts on a bike. That's a LOT. Quite impressive. Not sure how that's going to help your 5k time (or many of your bike times). Yes it will build strength by doing that but you might as well go to the gym fro that. You should be looking at 2x20 minutes at 85% of FTP on a bike trainer to help you bike endurance...that, I guess, will have crossover benefits for running.

3. You prob need to put more time in. If you are time pressed then look at some of the posts on my blog about gettign down below 20 minutes.

4. Age - you are 40+ so that next minute improvement needs a bit more consideration methinks. But you WILL certainly do it with a bit of perseverence.

PM me or email me if you want to know more about duathlon training (which is basically what you seem to be doing), or address the questions to somewhere like ... some very knowledgeable people there - much better at reading other people's books and regurgitating the content than me

Edited: 21/11/2012 at 17:18
09/12/2013 at 11:42

Oogles! Just want to say well done on your times and getting them down to sub 19 mins!!!!! 

09/12/2013 at 12:04

OOgles - I was in a similar place to you when I did my first Parkrun back in July and did 24.29. Have since then restructured my training to work up to running 30 miles per week over 5 days, including a long run which is now up to 10 miles, a 'tempo' or intervals session and then lots of other shorter easy paced runs. I have since done 3 more parkruns at the same course and knocked about 1 minute off the time on each occasion, posting 21.02 this weekend. I attribute the improvements to greater aerobic capacity from adding in lots more easy paced running and getting my long run up.

I'm no expert, and you may not have the time for it, but you seem to only be doing about 10-15 miles per week of running and filling the rest of the week with X-training. Is it possible for you to add in more runs (even if at the expense of bike and gym work)?

Having said that, you seem to be knocking lots of time off just by doing what you are doing - but I would think that upping your mileage each week would probably accelerate your improvement even more. it also would allow you to think about doing maybe a 5mile or 10k race if you fancies it?

Finally, maybe don't do the parkrun each week as doing a full out effort so regularly will affect your ability to train each week - I tend to use parkruns as something I do every 6 weeks or so as a way to gauge my progress. Just a thought.

My target is also to go sub20 within the next 6 months or so.

09/12/2013 at 12:29 out 19 here you come! It starts to get hard now

aerobic capacity - threshold - VO2 -speed/power/technique/flexibility, guess they are all important in 5k, really, as is staying injury free. Not sure that long slow runs will achieve all of those. Just my opinion.

11/12/2013 at 15:53

How about taking a day off from exercise altogether?

I know not all days you are doing intensive exercise, but how, for example, will your legs seize up if you dont do exercise on Fridays? Without trying to sound too abrupt, this sounds slightly obsessive. The body needs time to recover and you may feel better for it.

I am around the 19-20 min mark for a flat Parkrun. Doing it every week I didnt manage to beat my PB, then I did some other distance races mixed with some days off, storing up carbs, relaxing. etc. and it works.

Edited: 11/12/2013 at 15:54

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