Women: sub 20 parkrun

Just wondering if anyone has an opinion on how tough a goal this is? is it generally achievable for an average, reasonably dedicated woman? Or would it require some special talent level? i am sitting at about 21 mins, but unsure as to how big a leap sub 20 is...


  • Quick look at course pb's for all parkruns show the majority at sub 20. Whether it's achievable for you depends on a whole host of variables like age, running history, what training you do, nature of your local parkrun course (flat/undulating/running surface) etc.

  • thanks trogs. was hoping for a 'of course it's possible' but that's silly...it does of course depend on a multitude of things
  • Cal JonesCal Jones ✭✭✭
    If you're at 21, it's not an unrealistic goal, but then you're already well above average despite what you say. I consider myself a mid-packer - I once managed to get under 25 minutes, back in November, but usually sit between 25-27 depending on the terrain and surface. With all the will and training in the world, I don't think there's any danger of me going anywhere near 20 or even 22.
  • Christine, your goal is achievable as long as you are prepared to put the time in. The 5km event relies on you having a good aerobic system, with aerobic running it increases mitochondria and capillaries in your body which means your body can move more oxygen around which = a faster runner. To do this you need to do some long runs followed by shorter ones so that your body recovers. Aerobic runs should be done at a pace which you can hold a conversation. With GPS there is always the temptation to try and run at your best 5km pace in training. By following a balanced running programme you can definitely get a 20min 5km..
  • JGavJGav ✭✭✭
    Would be good to know a few things about your running.  1. how many miles/kms per week do you average 2. can you run a 3.50m km? 3. age isn't really an issue unless you're already 60+ at which point it becomes much harder to improve
  • thanks both for your responses! at the moment, i'm training for london marathon. Without tapering, i managed a 43 min 10km. i've been doing Jack Daniel's 4 week 2Q plan - (2 quality sessions then a down week every 4th week, averaging 75-90 km). Feeling like i've made some leaps forward with that plan - the sessions are more intense than i've ever attempted before. 

    I've been running consistently for past 2.5 years - mostly 5/6 days a week. initially followed 80/20 plan to the tee - really did take the easy days easy :) 

    i've never tried an all-out km, so might be worth having a go post london & see where i stand. 
  • SteWood78SteWood78 ✭✭✭

    I think you could do it. Your marathon has given you a good base mileage / endurance. If you worked hard for another 2-3 months after you've recovered from the marathon it's achievable.

    Your weeks should consist of..

    One of the 3 Martin Yelling workouts described here, KillerKs is unpleasant but does help.

    A 4 mile tempo run

    A 10-12 mile long run at an easy pace

    And as many EASY recovery runs as you can fit around this but try to avoid running any of the above on consequitive days. And as someone else said pick a flat fast parkrun. One final point warm up properly. Your body can not go from a standing start to your flat out 5k race pace and perform to its potential.
  • Thanks ste. I’m looking forward to giving the killer is a bash! 
    How long would you say for recovering from marathon to launching into this? Two weeks enough If I feel good?
  • Just come across your post Christine5. I would say you can do it based on your current 21 min PB if you put in the training. I followed the Hanson's Half Marathon Plan to train for a 1.30 half (missed goal by 18 seconds) and after that focussed for a few weeks on getting a sub 20 Parkrun. The course was flat and no hard corners either. I've managed it twice PB is 19:44. This was back in 2016 (aged 44) and I am nowhere near that time now as I'm training for London Marathon, however once that's out of the way I'll have 2 weeks off and try and get my 5K time down again - fingers crossed! I'm 47 now but I don't think that's such a factor - I think more the mileage and type of training.
  • ClagClag ✭✭✭
    Are you going to follow Hanson for the 5k Lizzy? I’ve just followed Hanson for London and got a PB. Now want to focus on speed I think, get the short distance times down again. 

    Christine, I think it’s achievable for you. I managed sub-20 off similar times and used Pfitzinger and Latter plan to get there. Keep us posted! 
  • Christine5Christine5 ✭✭✭
    wow lizzy. mega impressive times. how did you do in London? i hit 3.20. only a little chuffed with that haha! 

    i'm excited to see what i can do when i've managed a few speed sessions again. legs felt sore on Sunday when i did a gentle run, but today all good. thanks for the encouragement Clag! what are you aiming for now? 
  • ClagClag ✭✭✭
    Going to try a Hanson approach to 5k/10k and see what happens. Ideally get to 21 mins or below again. 
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