What does it take to run parkrun in under 30 minutes?

Stopwatch with text saying 'what does it take to run parkrun in under 30 minutes?'

Alongside my big goals (Castle to Coast triathlon) and RideLondon, I’ve been working on doing parkrun in under 30 minutes. I was over a minute slower than that at the LRR recalibration time trial, so I knew I had to get working.

I still need to amend my eating habits to lose weight, but I’ve been making progress. My sleep is gradually improving. M still wakes every night but has been persuaded to stay in her own bed, which is huge progress. I now just need to work on my fitness, flexibility and strength.

Although I feel frustrated by how slow I’ve become, my current best is still faster than the UK average, which is not under 30 minutes.

The average 5K finish time in the UK is 00:33:54. For male runners, the average finish time is 00:29:08 and for female runners, the average finish time is 00:38:12.

What are the average 5K and 10K finish times in the UK?


Woman doing a binding headstand pose in a garden with a view of the mountains.

I’m really enjoying making time for myself in the middle of the day by attending yoga classes. Last week, I took part in two classes – one on Monday and another on Thursday. I need to balance out my training with relaxation and I also need to regain my flexibility and core strength.

The Monday class was all about binding poses. It felt tough at the time, but I felt like I’d had a good stretch afterwards. The second class of the week was much more relaxing, which was good as I’d had a hectic week.


I made it to a spinning class on Tuesday. It was a fun class, but I didn’t like the music as much as I do in some classes. Also, I didn’t think the instructor made the best use of the music, as we did very little in time to the beat of the music. I also felt frustrated as the left pedal crank started clanking every time we were out of the saddle.

After last week’s long bike ride, I was grateful that my legs were still working! I think my spinning sessions are definitely improving my fitness and the core section that we did in the middle should be helping my middle!

Southampton parkrun

It was my turn to run without M in her buggy this week. I also had the opportunity to run down to Southampton Common. I was a little nervous about this as I’ve only done one 10k run this year and it was hard going!

The first part of the route from my house is all uphill, so I walked that bit. I then figured I’d be OK running the downhill section. However, I had completely forgotten to use my inhaler, so my breathing wasn’t good. The downhill section is quite long, but it felt tough. I had expected it to feel easier, but I was struggling to get under 7 min/km. If I’m that slow on a downhill then a sub 30 minute time must be a long way off.

When I reached the Common, I had to decide which route to take to get to the start. I didn’t take the shortest possible route, but I also didn’t choose to go up the hill. My chosen route was exactly 3km long. It took me 21:11, so over 7 min/km.

Visitors from MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit

There were some visitors to Southampton parkrun this week from the Medical Research Council. They had lots of freebies on offer. They were also doing handgrip strength testing. It was something interesting for runners to learn about as it is a good indicator of someone’s health and fitness as well as being an opportunity for them to gather data.

I was really pleased with my handgrip strength. I scored 37.5kg which compares well with handgrip strength norms. (Strong for my age group is anything over > 32.7kg!) Maybe I’m not as weak and unfit as I thought!

How did my run go?

I was feeling really tired at the start of the run. My legs were tired, I was a bit thirsty and I didn’t have my inhaler. I tucked myself into the middle of the pack and decided to just do the best I could.

At the Bellemoor, Sergio caught up with me. He had a pacer vest on, but I couldn’t see what time he was pacing. We started chatting and he said he was pacing 29 minutes, “You want that, don’t you?” I said I’d love it, but I knew that I had no hope of getting anything close to that.

I stuck with Luis and Sergio for a full lap, but when we got back to the bridge on the second lap I knew that I couldn’t stick with them. They continued to run at the appropriate pace and I watched them go up the hill. On the downhill, I lost sight of them, but I continued to push as hard as I could.

I kept an eye on my watch and wondered whether I’d be able to get closer to 30 minutes than in the recalibration time trial. However, I hadn’t restarted my watch at the start of parkrun, so I was having to do mental arithmetic to work out how close I’d be. In the end, I did a lot better than I expected.

Tamsyn's results email from Southampton parkrun: 29:39.

I was so pleased to be back under 30 minutes. Now I need to knock exactly six minutes off my time to get a PB!

I’ve also got a series of realistic goals in mind. First one is to stay under 30 minutes for all of my solo parkruns. Then I want to get a season’s best.

Volunteering at parkrun

After my run, I noticed that the barcode scanning queues were really long. The parkrun virtual volunteer app is great. I’ve got it installed on my phone, so I was able to hop in and start another scanning queue.

Volunteering at Southampton parkrun  on 15th June 2019.

Getting back in the water

Today, I planned to do a 2000m swim. I wrote out my swim set, stuck it to my water bottle and got in the pool.

I did a 10x50m warm up. Then I did a ‘speed’ set of 4x75m (25m slow; 25m medium; 25m fast). 800m is quite a long prelude to a main set for me.

The main set was a pyramid: 50m; 100m; 150m; 200m; 200m; 150m; 100m; 50m. I was going to follow that with a 200m swim down.

I like swimming on Monday mornings as there are six lanes: 2 slow; 2 medium; 1 fast and then 1 medium. I find this an odd layout, but it’s good that there are 3 medium lanes. As there were people doing head up breaststroke in the first two medium lanes, I decided to go in the fast lane that just had one man in it. He decided to leave immediately – obviously my training plan made him feel threatened! 😉

I felt like my swim was going really well, but I hadn’t realised the pool closure time. I’d only done 1500m when I had to leave. It took me 35 minutes, so I really ought to be able to easily get my 2000m swim done in under an hour.

Post-training treat

For my birthday, I was given a voucher for YOU Massage Therapy. It’s taken me ages to book it, but I’m glad I did. My shoulders were really tight (as usual) and I’ve also been having a few problems with my right hip/lower back. I’m not sure what’s caused it, but I suspect that it’s from carrying M on my right hip.

The biggest problem that I’ve been having is with my ankles. They have been really inflexible recently. As soon as the masseur touched my calves, I was ready to scream. I had no idea that they were so tight. My ankles feel so much looser now. I’m so glad I had the massage.

Honing my craft

No changes here yet, but there will be some coming. Last week I took part in a local blogging masterclass. I picked up some great tips, so keep an eye on my social media to see what I learnt!

3 Responses

  1. Alas nothing but speed work will do the job for 5k times. Fartlek, intervals, hills, you name it… you have to suffer a wee bit to get those times down.

    • True… but as I’ve not been running more than 5k a week this year, just getting back into running consistently is helping. I spent an hour tonight with the running club doing hill reps, so hopefully, that will help to take another few seconds off. I managed to get my PB off the back of marathon training, which was 5 runs a fortnight, so not a traditional training plan.

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