Delusions and the Madness of Crowds - Bridge to 10K

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Delusions and the Madness of Crowds


My legs are tricking me. Or my mind is scrambled.

I went out for my 5k 'recovery run' today. I love saying that; like 5k is now the new norm, when once it was a mirage in the distance, in an unforgiving desert.

But I have a new target. C25k done, 10k completed on Monday (and that is NOT going to become the new norm, despite ASBO insisting we continue to run further and further), so now it is the elusive and arbitrary sub 30 5k I'm reaching for.

Surely this must be possible? Some Ethiopian chap who looked like he needed a good hot meal, a cup of Horlicks and bloody big cuddle, managed 5k in 12:37 minutes!!! Surely 30 minutes isn't overreaching!

Or, I'm deluded and it is a simple law of physics. Pure mathematics. Nothing can travel faster than the speed of light (not even ju-ju-) and I cannot perambulate 5k faster than 30 earth minutes.

Have I been tricked into believing I can defy physics?!

The Madness of Crowds - an early study of crowd psychology, would suggest that in large groups, people would feel power, strength, belief, boldness and strength of will that was greater than the sum of the parts.

The spirit of the crowd imparting some performance-enhancing drug like a tribal alchemist.

I think this is what must happen at Parkrun! A communal spirit of togetherness and fighting for a common aim, helping us to raise our game, beyond the solo norms.

Each and every time I have done Parkrun (ok, it's only 5 so not statistically a sound experiment!), I have improved my personal best time and slowly been creeping down towards the magic 30 number.

And what's strange is that I haven't particularly been consciously trying to go 'fast' - just trying my hardest to get around as best I can - or just, at all! They all hurt! Particularly the most recent one, no shade and the searing sunlight that we have all had to adjust to these last few weeks. And I did a great time (for me), and it really hurt - but I didn't at any time consciously think "I must try and run fast(er)", I just did the best I could to keep up with pianoteacher ! I gulped down the crowd elixir, and I was duly rewarded.

So what.

Well, today I tried. I properly tried. I committed to trying to run sub 30. Consciously aimed for it. Set my watch/pacer up for it. Went for it. I felt like I was running fast (relative to a lion that has just eaten an antelope and is settling down for a 6-week kip). I felt like I was pushing myself. Striding longer, pacing faster, haemorrhaging energy quicker, panting harder. I MUST BE GOING QUICKER. I was so close to 30 minutes on Saturday - this MUST be quicker.

NOPE. Dead same time.

But I was alone. Never stood a chance. Deluded.

I will cross this desert and drink from a sub 30 fountain one day.

And I'm convinced it will be in a mad crowd.

Have fun out there! x

#you can do it

21 Replies

Don't you blame me - I was going your speed! 😂 Absolutely right about it being easier together than alone though. My next milestone is to go sub 27:30 and I'm not even going to attempt it outside of parkrun because I know I'll get to a point where I'll just stop if it gets tough x

Haha that’s a fabulous post. Your running 10ks regularly?! Wow! Oh how I wish I was even half way there 😂. A sub 30 min 5k is most people’s goal but I’ve given up on times now and just aiming for that elusive 5, however long it takes.

I’m so impressed (also read envious 😂) with your runs. I’m sure the 30 minute 5 is just round the corner for you. 🤞👍👏

in reply to SandieF

Hi Sandie. You're nearly there! Slow and steady and if necessary, a bit slower! 🐌

Get to 4k and think, "im soooo close, just 1k more" and squeeze it out!

# You can do it!

in reply to Marvo69

I’m nearer than that 😃 4.6k this morning 😂

😂 I enjoyed reading your post. That elusive sub 30 minute 5k will surely come to you soon. Have you tried running the speed podcast or doing fartleks. I hate running speed intervals but have decided it’s the only way I’m ever going to get any faster. I don’t really like the Soeed Podcast but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, allegedly. But I’ve started using C25k week 1 as a fartleks programme so I run my usual speed when Michael Johnson tells me to walk and then run much faster for the 60second walk intervals. I’ve done this once a week 3 or 4 times and have actually managed two PBs for my 10k time.

It might work for you too and you 5k time.

Good luck.

in reply to Razouski

Sounds like a good plan! I never thought I would go out 'running'. Even less likely that I thought of doing 'Speed intervals'! :-) What's happened to us! ps - what the hell is a fartlek! OK - google told me. Not what I thought! :-)

in reply to Marvo69


I remember thinking what on earth is a fartlek when I first saw the term in this forum and mind went racing all over the place. It's just a fancy word for intervals. I think I like it as it helps me think I'm doing something special when I really don't want to be running speed intervals at all. Mind over matter and all that..


I think we are at about the same place, just completed 10k and think I'm going to concentrate on some quicker 5k's for a week or two. I have never been able to get the other side of 33 mins but I shall keep trying :) . . . hope you make your sub 30 👍


Well done on getting to 10k. A new distance is quite a challenge to the mind and body, a charge towards the canonade, mayhaps a voyage through the symplegades. And a 'Recovery' run just two days later to help slowly re-energise fatigued muscles is where you decide to write the next chapter in your running epic, your nibelungenlied. Yes maybe you have been out in the sun suffering from delusions.

Maybe take a few days in hand and try a nice slow recovery run and then once body has revitalised take on the next challenge.. or not :)

in reply to pinkaardvark

Good advice for sure! Getting over excited! Off on hols at the weekend so will find some good recovery time and lots of swimming 😁

Fully recuperated I'll try again to pass between those clashing rocks!


in reply to Marvo69

I'm looking forward to the prose, when you do break through that barrier :) Have a great holiday.

Aha, well the application of science would suggest you need to run WITH the direction of earth’s rotation, not against it, so you need to run west to east and on a bearing of exactly 90 degrees, so you are running with time, not against it. However, what effect the declination of magnetic and polar north from true north will have on the optimal bearing that you should run to maximise time and spin efficiency, I couldn’t tell you.

And there endeth the lesson in bullshit!

Sometimes these things just happen, everything aligns and you achieve that magic sub 30. I’ve never done it and probably never will! Good luck!

in reply to Fionn42


in reply to Fionn42

I will bear that bullshit in mind when plotting my next attempt!! Brilliant😂


At 18st, I don't think I'll ever get to sub 30 with my knees intact. My knee surgeon suggested (nicely) that I took up swimming instead as I was not anatomically built for running..... I'm pretty sure that makes me deluded!

On the other hand, I've discovered that I had an 'app' madness where by after week 6, there were no intervals, and I got through them all. Now, I've graduated I've had to lower my pace substantially to even consider getting to 5k without a little 10/15 second walk interval (this might just be psychosomatic??) ....

A friend of mine convinced me to sign up for a 10K in October, on the premise that as long as I can run 7-8k by that time, the crowd and cheering will carry me the rest of the way.... I'll report back nearer the time, but my 10k plan allows me to complete the 10k on the day of the race, if not the week before.

My first parkrun is going to be Saturday, which is 5K, which I know I can do somewhere between 35 & 39 minutes. If your (and my friends hypothesises are true), I'll come in around 30 minutes...

More news on Saturday afternoon (hopefully not from A&E or the cardiac unit!)


in reply to LoungeLizaard

You can do it! Let us know how you go!


Yes I think it will be in a crowd or with a running buddy Marvo69 . My next target is 35 mins so you are doing better than me. Our Parkrun isn’t on this weekend so I think we’ll have to get up early and travel to our next nearest (also flat) one. Let us know when you’ve done it 🏃‍♂️


It is hard, and thats how intervals work.... when properly applied can be amazing. I plotted my 5k times when I started doing the 30,20,10 and went from 31 to 27 minutes over about 4 months. There are other things you can do in the gym etc too. Stay focussed and determined, follow a plan and you will nail it....

in reply to ju-ju-

I am determined. I'll try the intervals.

I will not go to a gym! 💪😃 a sacrifice too far!


What a great piece of writing! Ive yet to discover running with a crowd, but it’s how I imagine it would be from your description. Mind you, when I ran with my daughter and granddaughter, they zoomed into the distance and had to come back for me.


I’m laughing at your great post, but agree your chances of doing better in a crowd at Parkrun are higher. I’ve so far only really reached sub 30 5ks during my (only 2 so far!) Parkruns. On my own and experimenting with deliberately faster step rates, I seem to end up going slower. (Perhaps reaching faster 5ks is also one of those mystical things you can’t attain if you try too hard!!😂😂)

I’m only just about to start Juju’s Magic 10 plan, though, so am in awe of you guys already running 10k, whatever speed you run 5 at!👍😃❤️

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