News - 19th September 2023

Top tips to get a personal best


First and foremost, we all know that parkrun is about taking part, community, being social together outdoors, and maybe grabbing a coffee afterwards. But sometimes, you want to aim for a personal best (PB)!


We share some top tips from long-distance runner and regular Australian parkrunner Steve Moneghetti about how to give yourself the best chance of attaining a PB at parkrun.


Turn up and participate


First up, Steve’s tip is to simply turn up – consistency is everything! Steve says, “get involved, be consistent and get into a parkrun rhythm that works for you. Running is a very specific activity and to run or walk faster and to get a PB, you need to practise! So getting out there each week to participate should be your very first goal”.




Set realistic goals


Next, Steve recommends not comparing your personal bests from the past. PBs have a shelf life and are somewhat fluid according to what stage of life you are at. Steve says, “I think it’s ok to reset your PB intermittently. I’m a good example of someone not running PBs anymore, I’m on a sliding trajectory away from my PB, so I want my times to slow as gently as possible”.


“PBs are a relative thing according to where you’re at in life. It’s therefore essential to set realistic benchmarks that relate to you and your current situation. For example, you might be coming back from an injury, so your first parkrun back is a PB in itself and you should simply be delighted with that!”


The age-graded score that you receive after each parkrun is a great way of comparing times at different stages of your life, and can act as a great motivator. Perhaps a lifetime PB is out of reach, but an age-grade PB will feel just as rewarding.


The training process


Steve’s next big tip is to train, and train hard. You can start by incorporating intervals or 1k bursts into your running. He also recommends exposing yourself to the pace you want to run at for short bursts.


“You have to sneak up on a PB, it doesn’t just happen and it doesn’t happen accidentally. Around four weeks before your target parkrun, run or walk one kilometre at your goal pace. Then, the next Saturday, run or walk the first 2k at your goal pace, and so on. This will start to get your body ready for the exertion and expose yourself to the pace you want to move at little by little. This gives you mental confidence as well because you’ve already gone at that pace previously.”




Consider going further than 5k


Going further than 5k in the lead up to your PB attempt can help you in terms of stamina, but it also keeps your mind off the 5k parkrun distance.


Steve says, “this helps to condition your body physically and mentally, as it helps you to know that the distance won’t be a problem. Ideally, it’s best to train for the distance first and then aim to increase the speed second”.


Lean on a friend


Use a pacer! Let someone else set the pace for you and take the pressure off. You could ask a friend who you know can hold your goal pace. Steve advises that this will enable you to focus less on yourself and makes you less fixated so that the speed doesn’t get the better of you. A pacer will help you get through the discomfort and the outcome will take care of itself!




Think outside the square


Think about getting PBs in different ways to stop yourself from getting bored and keep things interesting. Steve says, “you could try a parkrun PB at different events and this can give you a different challenge. Different courses will allow for different opportunities to work on; different surfaces, different number of turns or inclines. It will give you something else to focus on rather than just speed. Also, trying different events gives you an opportunity to explore different places and environments”.


Treat yourself like an athlete


Who else can give you advice on treating yourself like an athlete other than an athlete! Steve suggests to get good rest in the week before your goal event, reduce your mileage (if you’re doing a lot), eat well, keep hydrated and sleep well.


He also says, “it’s also a good idea to pick a week when you don’t have a busy schedule or a party on a Friday night. Really treat yourself like an athlete, as this will help you prepare mentally and physically”.




Warm up properly


You should also give your body time to wake up before parkrun. We’ve all rolled out of bed and headed straight to parkrun, but this might not be the best recipe for a PB attempt.


Do a slow jog or fast walk for a few minutes or more before the start of the parkrun, and maybe some short sprints to make sure you’re ready to go at the start. It helps to prepare the body both physically and mentally for what’s to come.


Don’t compare yourself to others


Finally, Steve warns against comparing yourself to others.“Personal bests are personal bests to you, not to other people. So don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself to mates or fellow parkrunners. It’s important to stay focused on your own goals and be satisfied with your achievements. Take joy in even the smallest of wins and be proud of each achievement you make”.


Adapted from an original Australian blogpost written by Ricci Shepherd & Steve Moneghetti



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