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.


PB review 2014 & targets for 2015

Ending 2014 on a high – running over 120 miles and recording a PB in each of the last three months of the year – the middle six months where I didn’t run a competitive event now seem a long time ago. My primary PB focus this year was intended to be on distances of 5k and shorter, but that failed to materialise due to injury*.

One positive of being sidelined was that I took time to focus on weight management and successfully reduced my weight from around 73kg and rising, at the end of March, to around 67kg and stable since June. I am certain that my reduced weight has been a significant factor in the subsequent PB improvements I have made, although I’ve yet to realise all the hypothetical potential I calculated when considering my Stillman running weight.


Around 67kg and relatively stable since June this year, I am certain that my reduced weight has been a significant factor in the subsequent PB improvements I have made.

To minimise the risk of further injury during my extended recovery period, I chose to focus on restoring strength and endurance at the expense of absolute speed and so reverted to historical type and ran exclusively longer distance events. Hence the only targets I’ve needed to revise this year are those at 10k and above. The marathon I’ve only included for fun since my first marathon isn’t due until twenty sixteen anyway.

2014 season 2015 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 1 4:49.9
mile 4:59.9 1 March 5:31.7 4:59.9
3000m 9:59.9 9:59.9
5k 18:58 17:59 13 March 18:55
October 18:53
5 mile 31:36 29:59 1 December 31:28 29:59
10k 39:33 38:59 2 November 39:04 38:29
10 mile 67:53 1 March 66:41 64:59
half marathon 89:53 88:59 1 March 88:16 87:29
marathon 3:09:59

Whilst the right hand column is optimistically labelled “2015 season target” I’m curious to discover if any of these ever need revising again; it may be that it could more accurately be labelled “lifetime target”. In any event, whether I can achieve these targets or not, I am hopeful that I have at least two or three more seasons where I’ll be able to improve my PBs in as broad a range of distances as I have in the last two. With an eye on 2016’s marathon I shall be doing everything I can to stay injury free next year and hope that this will enable me to run a similar number of events as I did in 2013. If this in turn results in PB achievements as extensive as either 2014 or 2013 I’ll be very satisfied indeed.

end of year summary 2014

I’m hopeful that I have at least two or three more seasons where I’ll be able to record PBs across a broad range of distances as I have in the last two years.

Here’s to a Happy New Running Year. And a good one in all aspects of life for that matter! 🙂

* I have agreed with myself to stop linking back to the posts I made at the time, but am making a final exception as I say farewell to 2014 and re-spraining my right ankle back in March.

Age Grade Holy Grail

I’ve occasionally suggested that if I had to have a religion I’d be most likely to choose numerology*; I find the statistics relating to almost any subject interesting and strangely attractive. I particularly enjoy the way that values which are intrinsically arbitrary acquire quasi-mythical status as ‘significant barriers’. Was the first sub four minute mile really any more remarkable than the first under 4:01? Or 3:59? Is there any compelling reason for the Queen to commemorate the 100th birthday of one of her nominal subjects as opposed to their 99th or 110th? Did Usain Bolt feel underwhelmed when becoming the first human to run 100m in under 9.8, and then 9.7, seconds relative to Jim Hines’ elation at breaking the 10 second barrier?

A friend recently mentioned that for some golfers the Holy Grail is to score their age in a round. Though I would think its application is limited to those of around age 70 and older I like the way that works; as the player ages so they are allowed one additional shot per round, whilst at the same time their strength and driving range decreases so maintaining the difficulty. For runners Age Grading (AG) has no such limitations. After completing my second 800m in 2:25.9, an AG of 78.32% as a 48 year old last year, I first considered the possibility that I might be able to run an 80% AG.

Having just celebrated my 49th AG day, I have used the Running for Fitness calculator to calculate 80% AG times for all my event distances for a male at age 49. In absolute terms an 80% AG time is now just a little closer than it was before my birthday and I’m hoping that since I’m still an improving runner (all my PBs were set in the last 11 months) the Holy Grail of an 80% AG performance** is now within reach.

event 80% AG time (MALE, 49 yrs) current PB improvement required pace improvement required per km
800m 2:24 2:26 0:02 3s 3:03 – 3:00
1500m 4:52 5:18 0:26 18s 3:32 – 3:14
1 mile 5:16 5:32 0:16 10s 3:26 – 3:16
5k 18:18 18:55 0:37 7s 3:47 – 3:40
5 mile 30:15 31:36 1:21 10s 3:56 – 3:46
10k 38:04 39:33 1:29 9s 3:57 – 3:48
10 mile 62:29 66:41 4:12 16s 4:09 – 3:53
half marathon 82:59 88:16 5:17 15s 4:11 – 3:56

I can’t help but wonder in how many disciplines I could reach the Holy Grail? I’m confident that 800m is achievable given how close I’ve come already with no specific preparation. Despite currently being 18 seconds per kilometre off pace over 1500m I think that both it and the mile are achievable too. My current 1500m PB is something of an anomaly since of the three times I’ve raced the distance two were within 15 minutes of an 800m race and the third I was the lone entrant. It did feel good to finish first for a change.

Beyond that it’s going to get hard. Very hard. My targets for this year include times for 5k and 5 miles that slightly exceed an 80% AG; I was definitely in an optimistic frame of mind when I wrote those! I do think 5 miles is the upper distance limit though …

* My personal sect – established circa 2004, number of known adherents 1 (though I think it is highly likely the Queen is also a believer) – celebrates numbers for their innate appeal; there is no supernatural element.

** You might like to read the successor to this post where I reconsider this goal one year on.

2013, running year review – event times

2013 has been a quite amazing year, an annus mirabilis if you like. I’ve entered 29 events across 6 formal event distances, recording 13 PBs along the way culminating in PBs over all 6 event distances set in the last quarter of the year. I achieved, and in many cases smashed, all my running targets for 2013.

800m opening PB none | target none | new PB 2:25.9
I have run 2 events to date, both at South London Harriers‘ Track Coulsdon Winter Series, one in November and one in December. Initially attracted simply by the opportunity to set PBs at new distances I find I’m actually relatively good at the shorter distances; 2:25.9 equates to an Age Grade better than all my longer distance PBs.

The Winter Series, a small informal meeting, continues monthly through to March 2014 and is a great opportunity for every day runners to run on an international quality track.

1500m opening PB none | target none | new PB 5:18.2
Both events to date were run at the same meetings as my 800m events and both within 15 minutes or so of the finish of the 800m. Consequently I’m confident that a significant improvement is possible.

5k opening PB 19:47 | target 19:30 | new PB 18:58
I have run 16 events this year, all but one of them parkruns. At the end of April, in only my fourth event of the year, I recorded my first PB of the season at Dulwich parkrun and immediately achieved my target improving my PB by 20 seconds to 19:27. At the beginning of June I improved my PB in consecutive weeks at Dulwich – to 19:21 – and then Poole – to 19:06 – finally achieving my current PB in November back at Dulwich.


5 miles opening PB 33:11 | target 32:10 | new PB 31:36
I ran just two events this year the first of which was the Ickenham 5 in September. The course seemed to be constantly undulating and from the outset I felt I wouldn’t achieve my target. I recorded a time of 33:00. Returning to the Perivale 5, the event at which I first raced 5 miles in 2012, I felt strong and fast and this combined with the almost perfect course – just a couple of sharp turns to spoil it – resulted in my new PB 🙂

10k opening PB 40:51 | target 39:59 | new PB 39:33
My longest standing running target, dating back to entering my first events in 2006, was to complete a 10k in less than 40 minutes. I ran 5 events in 2013 and recorded my first PB at the second of these at Battersea Park in June – I nudged my PB forward by 17 seconds to 40:34. After two more races in Battersea park in July and August at which I was disappointed to record times just over 41 minutes I finally achieved my target at the Brooks Brighton 10k in December. I felt strong and the event had been recommended to me as a fast course by several of my clubmates at Beckenham RC. They weren’t wrong and I really enjoyed sharing the moment with so many of them; both in the form of shouted encouragement en route and at the finish line.

half marathon opening PB 98:11 | target 89:59 | new PB 89:53
I ran two events this year. At the beginning of April I returned to the Bournemouth Bay Run where I ran my first half marathon in 2010 and was pleased to record a new PB of 92:29 in slightly windy conditions. In September I ran my first Ealing Half Marathon and experienced probably my most emotional race to date. I just dipped under 90 minutes to record 89:53.