PB review 2017 & targets for 2018

At last, after two years in the running semi-wilderness, 2017 was a resoundingly successful year. The dip in mileage during November and December, explained in my last post, was not due to injury and the lesser dip in April was simply post marathon recovery.

2017 was a resoundingly successful year.

I participated in 20 parkrun 5k events this year, across 5 different venues, and ran most of them competitively. At Dulwich parkrun in August, I improved my longstanding 2014 5k PB of 18:53 to 18:50. In the next two months, I continued to record excellent times – 18:52, 18:54 and 18:52 – every time I ran a parkrun competitively.

Outside parkrunning, I participated in my first marathon, which was a great experience if not an impressive performance, and I improved my 10000m PB twice such that my track time is now on a par with my road PB and the targets I have set for both now seem genuinely realistic. On my 52nd birthday, 1st October, I ran the Kingston Half marathon with the aim of setting a new PB, faster than the now disqualified 86:29 I set at Brighton in 2015. Coming as it did during the best three months of my year – August to October – I was initially somewhat disappointed to run ‘only’ 86:41. But, since Brighton 2015 was officially 146 metres short, it is clear that this is a better performance by any measure. I will definitely be returning next year and hope to be ready to attempt sub 85 minutes.

So, once again my targets for are unchanged from last year. This year I really want to get on the track and improve my middle distance PBs, but having entered another marathon is not exactly conducive to that! On that note, last year’s Brighton Marathon was hard enough that, at this moment, notwithstanding that I am running strong I think it is unlikely I will commit to my sub 3:10 target time from the gun.

2017 season 2018 season
event opening PB target events improvement target
800m 2:25.9 2:19.9 2:19.9
1500m 5:18.2 4:49.9 4:49.9
mile 5:31.7 4:59.9 4:59.9
3000m 9:59.9 9:59.9
5000m 19:01.53 17:59.99 17:59.99
5k 18:53 17:59 20 August 18:50 17:59
5 mile 31:28 29:59 29:59
10000m 40:41 38:29.99 2 June 40:28.20, September 39:05.53 38:29.99
10k 39:04 38:29 1 38:29
10 mile 66:41 64:59 64:59
half marathon 86:29 84:59 1 October 86:41 84:59
marathon 3:09:59 1 April 3:47:58 3:09:59

I am still in denial about getting older and so I am holding out for absolute PBs – that is improvements in my best times. However, for the sake of completeness shall we say, I have listed my age grade (AG) bests and am particularly hopeful that 2018 will see the achievement of my longstanding goal of an 80% age grade.

event time PB AGe when set AG of time PB when set AG PB age when AG PB set
800m 2:25.9 48 78.32% same
1500m 5:18.2 48 72.77% same
mile 5:31.7 48 75.50% same
5000m 19:01.53 49 72.21% same
5k 18:50 51 78.94% 79.42% (18:52) 52
5 mile 31:28 49 76.91% same
10000m 39:05.53 51 77.64% same
10k 39:04 49 77.94% 78.20% (39:54) 52
10 mile 66:41 48 74.33% same
half marathon 86:41 52 78.58% same
marathon 3:47:58 51 61.73% same

PB review 2016 & targets for 2017

My running in 2016 ended on a relative high. This is probably better phrased as, “My perception of running in 2016 was only saved from being ‘a complete fiasco’ by returning to a decent level of activity in December.” I ran 21 parkrun 5k events this year, but most of those were simply part of the process of recovery from one injury or another. Certainly, none were PB attempts and the fastest, 19:23 at Dulwich in June, was a full 30 seconds outside my 5k PB. Outside parkrunning, I participated in only three events this year. The first two of these were also in June; a 3k team relay and a 10000m PB although the latter was more of a statistical anomaly than a notable performance. By July I was already injured when I participated in the Thunder Run 24 hour team relay which really was such a fiasco that I couldn’t bring myself to write a blog post.


Running in 2016 was only saved from being a complete fiasco by returning to a decent level of activity in December.

Consequently my targets for 2017 are unchanged from last year. In fact, I have removed the 50k target which I optimistically added last year as part of my #50at50 challenge. If I am unable to maintain marathon training this year long enough to line up at the Brighton Marathon in April I will likely acknowledge that the marathon is beyond my physiology and remove it too next year.

2016 season 2017 season
event opening PB target events improvement target
800m 2:25.9 2:19.9 2:19.9
1500m 5:18.2 4:49.9 4:49.9
mile 5:31.7 4:59.9 4:59.9
3000m 9:59.9 9:59.9
5000m 19:01.53 17:59.99 17:59.99
5k 18:53 17:59 21 17:59
5 mile 31:28 29:59 29:59
10000m 44:04 38:29.99 1 June 40:41.00 38:29.99
10k 39:04 38:29 38:29
10 mile 66:41 64:59 64:59
half marathon 86:29 84:59 84:59
marathon 3:09:59 3:09:59

PB review 2015 & targets for 2016

The running year that was 2015 came to a singularly disappointing end for me and was only saved from complete statistical ignominy by February’s half marathon PB at Brighton. Achilles tendonitis, though only diagnosed as such in July, affected my season from February and morphed seamlessly into prepatellar bursitis during September which then accompanied me joylessly to the end of the year. Although I ran ten parkrun 5k events this year only three of these were inside twenty minutes and, of those, I ran only two as PB attempts. Hindsight seems to suggest even those were limited by the then undiagnosed tendonitis. Consequently my targets barely require revision for 2016.

Nonetheless the presentation of data in tabular form always engenders inordinate inner joy and so I have indulged myself to the full. Compared to last year I have set targets in three additional disciplines. The 5000m and 10000m targets are prompted by my participation in a 5000m, in April at a Highgate Harriers open meeting, and my aspiration to run at Highgate Harriers night of the 10000m PBs respectively. Although I had already run once in each discipline, both in 2006, I hadn’t previously noted these PBs separately from my 5k and 10k times; primarily because they were slower than my times in those disciplines anyway. The two track disciplines should of course be faster than their road race twins – the times for a 50 year old male recording an 80% AG performance are:

  • 5000m 18:01.80 / 5k 18:26.25 [ track just over 24 seconds faster ]
  • 10000m 37:37.91 / 10k 38:22.50 [ track nearly 45 seconds faster ]

With these comparisons in mind the targets below for 5000m and 10000m are clearly much kinder than the existing targets for 5k and 10k retained from last year. Personally an 80% Age Grade remains a Holy Grail – most of my PBs equate to an AG of around 75% – and since my strongest times are in shorter events it is unlikely I will ever achieve an 80% AG at 5000m or 10000m. Similarly the targets below for marathon and 50k – the third new discipline – are even kinder; the times equate to Age Grades of 73.41% and 71.90% respectively.

2015 season 2016 season
event opening PB target events improvement target
800m 2:25.9 2:19.9 2:19.9
1500m 5:18.2 4:49.9 4:49.9
mile 5:31.7 4:59.9 4:59.9
3000m 9:59.9 9:59.9
5000m 20:27 1 April 19:01.53 17:59.99
5k 18:53 17:59 10 17:59
5 mile 31:28 29:59 29:59
10000m 44:04 38:29.99
10k 39:04 38:29 38:29
10 mile 66:41 64:59 64:59
half marathon 89:16 87:29 2 February 86:29 84:59
marathon 3:09:59 3:09:59
50k 3:54:59

Well, that is as much joy as I can realise from reflection on statistics alone. Here’s to a happier New Year with some actual running!

If … Age Grade Holy Grail revisited at 50

Shortly after my 49th birthday, I considered the times I would need to achieve to record an 80% AG at that time. Having completed my 50th year at the start of this month, and spurred on by a comment from runningest sister after last weekend’s Bromley parkrun, I have revised the times, again using the Running for Fitness calculator. The slightly easier targets, combined with several PB improvements since my original post, have moved the Holy Grail just a little closer. In some disciplines tantalisingly so …

event 80% AG time (male, 50 yrs) current PB  improvement required pace improvement required per km
800m 2:25 2:26 0:01 1s 3:03 – 3:02
1500m 4:54 5:18 0:24 16s 3:32 – 3:16
1 mile 5:18 5:32 0:14 8s 3:26 – 3:18
5k 18:26 18:53 0:27 6s 3:47 – 3:41
5 mile 30:29 31:28 0:59 8s 3:55 – 3:47
10k 38:23 39:04 0:41 4s 3:54 – 3:50
10 mile 63:00 66:41 3:41 14s 4:09 – 3:55
half marathon 83:41 86:29 2:48 8s 4:06 – 3:58
marathon 2:54:20 4:08

If, and that’s an important ‘if’, I can stay fit throughout my fiftieth year I hope to enter at least one event each of the disciplines above in a PB competitive state. The comments I made in my original post regarding how many of the disciplines I might achieve an 80% AG at still stand – essentially up to and including 5 miles at the most optimistic – so the addition of a marathon to the list is purely for interest. In any case I will approach these AG goals cautiously as I do not want to jeopardize my returning, and hopefully ongoing, fitness and hence my #50at50 challenge and in particular my first marathon and first ultramarathon within that.

All the same, it would be nice if I could record one.

A big 'if'.

A big ‘if’. Similar to an important ‘if’. Both being quite nice.


First 100 events

9 years, 3 months and 2 days after my first event, the London British 10k on 2 July 2006, last Saturday’s Bromley parkrun was my one hundredth. I have run in 12 different disciplines; listed here in order of my first running of each.

event count first last fastest
10k 22 2 Jul 2006, 46:40 16 Nov 2014, 39:04 39:04
5000m 2 23 Sep 2006, 20:27 15 Apr 2015, 19:01.53 19:01.53
SSRC 4 mile fun run 4 28 Jan 2007, 27:48 24 Jan 2010, 28:28 27:43
10000m 1 15 Sep 2007, 44:04 44:04
half marathon 7 28 Mar 2010, 98:13 29 Mar 2015, 87:14 86:29
5k 47 11 Aug 2012, 22:39 3 Oct 2015, 20:50 18:53
5 mile 4 2 Dec 2012, 33:11 7 Dec 2014, 31:28 31:28
Beckenham RC handicap 5 13 Feb 2013, 23:27 9 Oct 2013, 25:35 23:02
800m 2 6 Nov 2013, 2:30.1 4 Dec 2013, 2:25.9 2:25.9
1500m 3 6 Nov 2013, 5:18.2 5 Feb 2014, 5:20.9 5:18.2
10 mile 1 1 Mar 2014, 66:41 66:41
1 mile 1 5 Mar 2014, 5:31.7 5:31.7
SSRC 10k (short) 1 25 Jan 2015, 39:19 39:19

Whilst many of those event disciplines – 800m, mile, 5k, half marathon etc – are commonly understood some will be unfamiliar: Just what is a Beckenham RC handicap for example? An explanation of these anomalies, together with an up to date event count beyond the date of this post, can be found on the Event Counts page (also accessible via Stats on the site menu).


9 years, 3 months and 2 days after my first event last Saturday’s parkrun was my one hundredth.

I take some satisfaction from reaching 100 events and find it is interesting to reflect on how the frequency and diversity of events has increased since my early years. Although my progression has been slowed over the last two years by injury, I am certainly anticipating my 200 event milestone already. Although I may not add many new disciplines – just marathon, 50k and 3000m currently come to mind – I am hoping to reach the next milestone relatively quickly. My #50at50 celebration, which started at Bromley last weekend, should get me close to 150 by this time next year if all goes well.


Highgate aspirations

A few days ago I saw someone tweet that they had just entered @HighgateHarriers’ “Night of the 10,000m PBs”. The combination of the graphic and the event name immediately had me hooked and I favourited the tweet so that I could return to it and investigate entry later.

Highgate Harriers 10000m

The graphic and event name immediately had me hooked.

One of the first things I came across on Highgate Harriers website was video highlights of the 2014 event …

Now that looked really exciting.

All but one of my races over the distance have been 10k road races the only exception being back in September 2007. It was a charity race, and just my eighth event overall, but had the kudos and excitement of being run on the track at Crystal Palace. I recorded 44:04; a mark that wasn’t even representative at the time as I had already recorded 41:08 on the road. In the last couple of years, as I have taken more interest in participating in track events, I have reflected on finding opportunities to run both 10,000m and 5,000m on the track to see just how much difference the speed conducive conditions might make in comparison to my 10k and 5k road times.

Of course my excitement should have been tempered sooner by the realisation that such an event would not be entirely open. I soon found details of the entry timetable:

February 22
entry opens to men / women who have run sub 32:00 / sub 37.30 respectively

March 15
entry opens to men / women who have run sub 33:00 / 38.30 respectively

April 5
entry opens to all who have run sub 38.30

There is no fixed closing date, entries will be closed when the race limit for 6 races is reached. Qualifying times must be 2014 or 2015, track or road.


My current PB, set in November’s Brighton 10k, is 39:04. I know that a further 34 seconds is a big improvement, but my current PB was a 29 second improvement on my previous best. So the only questions that remain are: Can I reach the qualifying standard in time for this year’s event or will it have to form part of my #50at50 series next year? And, even if I can reach the standard, will entry still be open? 😉

Swanage SSRC 10k / 9.75k

I ran Swanage Sea Rowing Club’s annual run each year from 2007 to 2010 in its original incarnation as a four mile fun run. Since its reincarnation in 2013 as a 10k yesterday’s race was my first.

I started out with a target of 40:30 in mind since I knew the course was undulating/hilly. As I wouldn’t be making a PB attempt. I did a minimal taper; modifying the preceding two runs from a Thursday 20k long run and an easy 10k on Saturday to two easy runs of just under 10k on Wednesday and Friday. Taking into account the constant elevation changes I didn’t run to a pace target, but rather set out to maintain my effort by heart rate. From the start we gained about 26 metres to the high point of the course at one mile. Noting my heart rate of 154, and that I’d averaged a pace of 4:09/km climbing to this point, I decided on 155 as my target heart rate for the remainder of the race.


Since Swanage Sea Rowing Club’s annual event reincarnated in 2013 as a 10k, yesterday’s was my first.

The undulating course through country lanes and quiet seaside town roads made for an enjoyable and quite exhilarating run. The roads weren’t closed to traffic, but this had almost no impact on my race. In addition to the excellent marshals there were quite a few clusters of supporters at various points on the course giving generous encouragement to everyone who passed. Beyond about three kilometres I was effectively running on my own having started immediately behind those actually standing on the start line and passed perhaps eight or ten runners during the initial climb and subsequent kilometre. I could see the two runners ahead of me for the remainder of the race, except when I briefly lost sight of them around a corner or over the brow of a hill, and used them to keep myself focussed. Not trying for a PB I didn’t push hard to reel them in, but held on to them to help ensure I didn’t relax too much. I remember noting that as my watched chimed 6 kilometres the time shown was exactly 24 minutes and so on target for something around 40 minutes. I think it was at this marker or perhaps at the next that I noticed my watch chime the completed kilometre exactly at the marker.

The final kilometre marker appeared just before the course joined the sea front and with the actual road surface absent during the road works it was absolutely necessary to run on the, still paved, pavement. Finishing uphill and back into the car park at Swanage FC the time recorded on my Garmin, 39:18 and just 14 seconds outside my PB set at the almost perfectly flat Brighton 10k in November, caused me to immediately check the distance field. I hadn’t been pressing hard and notwithstanding the ascents and descents I finished still feeling relatively fresh.

My FR620 showed 9.77km. Looking on Strava, which displays distances to one decimal place, the eight activity records I have seen are all either 9.8 or 9.7 kilometres. Present in equal number this, of course, produces an average of 9.75km; 250m short. [update March 2017, since my original post I have become aware that Strava doesn’t round to one decimal place, it actually truncates. Consequently, my original text now struck-through should read “9.80km, 200m short”]  Since it is highly unlikely that the eight runners all ran the perfect racing line I think the course was probably at least 300m [update March 2017, “250m”] short.

Having become a more serious, and for that matter GPS-device-owning, runner since my previous entries the status of the run has become more significant. I appreciate the presence of the word “fun”, in some descriptions of the event, is a strong indicator and the course doesn’t appear to be certified, but all the same I am mildly bemused that the organisers laid out a clearly short course for an event which they chose to describe as a 10k. Given how well everything else was organised – advance and on the day registration, marshalling, direction signs, post run water and medals, club house cakes and winners’ presentations – it seems bizarre. Not having run the 10k in either 2013 or 2014 it may be that the course was changed from a more accurate one to accommodate the significant ongoing road works which appeared in a couple of places on the course. Even so it would apparently have been a simple matter to add another 300m [update March 2017, “250m”] 

Again running an event with both my step-dad Alan and brother-in-law Rob we entered as a team and at the winners’ presentations we claimed the team prize. It may well be that we were the only team, but the significant piece of carved Purbeck stone is still ours to keep until next year. I think it looks quite fetching on the Purbeck stone hearth, also adorned with a Swanage swan, at my mum and Alan’s house in Dorset.

At the winners' ceremonies we claimed the team prize. It may be we were the only group of runners who entered as a team.

At the winners’ presentations we claimed the team prize. It may well be that we were the only team.


official time
+ 200m
+ 250m
+ 300m
40:08 (projected assuming constant pace)
40:20 (projected assuming constant pace)
40:32 (projected assuming constant pace)
biometric summary average HR – 154
max HR – 160 (estimated personal maximum – 172)
average cadence – 188
approx start weight – 69.6kg
position overall – 16 out of 166