Couch to 5K
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Who does parkrun "pacer" runs??

At my local parkrun, once per month, they have "pacers" . Usually starting at 20 minutes, they go to 40 minutes in 2.5 minute increments.

I am finding that a good "strategy" to use at parkrun is to use my 5K PB as a guide to your current level of fitness and input it into this calculator From this I use the TEMPO pace recommended to run my parkruns each week. In the early days, I would simply run 1K intervals at that pace with a minutes walk inbetween - now I run the full 5K at Tempo pace.

THEN - once per month (and once per month ONLY) , I use the pacers to allow me to see how fast I can go. This way , if I follow ( say) the 30 minute pacer, and if I can keep with him/her, then I know I will do the 5K in 30 minutes -- if I can do that, then next month I will do it again or I will track the faster pacer (knowing that I probably can't keep up with him/her - but as long as I don't fall behind the 30 minute pacer I know that I am somewhere between 30-32.5 minutes for the 5K.

I do see people trying to break PB's EVERY month - and I am convinced it is part of the cause for the injuries that I also see :(

6 Replies

My local run has a pacer every week - but there's only one at 30 minutes.

I'm afraid that I'm not normally as organised as you. I just run at whatever pace I feel like on the day. On some weeks I try and control my pace. On other occasions (usually if I'm going for a PB) I just try and fix onto someone a couple of hundred metres in front and aim to overhaul them. If I'm successful I then hone in on a new unsuspecting pacer and try to catch them.


At my local parkrun we have pacers for most minutes between 18 and 34 at the end of every month. It's a brilliant service that I have used several times to fail to get a PB.

But parkrun is a wonderful thing and if you ask on facebook you can usually get a volunteer to run almost any sensible speed you want for chocolate cake or beer :)


I used the 36 minute pacer on my second Parkrun and not only was it nice to have someone to talk to and encourage me I got a PB ! So I would always run with a pacer if I could, but one I could expect to keep up with ! I have done 4 more parkruns and not seen any pacers although I have changed venues ! :)

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I think pacers can be a great way of maintaining your own pace as often when you are running in isolation your mind goes walkabout and you unconsciously drop your pace.

The pacer though has his own strategy on how to obtain his goal. I am a notouresly a slow starter and often have negative splits. If i followed a pacer i'm sure by the half way mark i'd be burnt out, hurting, struggling and hanging on to the finish. Possibly i may get a good time but i much prefer to run my own pace. After 4k i can normally judge where i am and will have the 22 minute pacer in sight that i can gradually overhaul.

I have always refused to be a pacer as i'm sure i would be far too slow for most followers at the beginning of the run and leave them struggling to obtain their goal at the end.


I have run following a pacer and acted as a pacer. Acting as a pacer is a great volunteer role - you get to run AND any pressure to think about running a pb is lifted from you!

I'm certainly not as disciplined as you in planning out how I approach each parkrun, but I do try to match my activities there to other training (for example, I have a hm coming up so have been focussing in distance rather than speed, so will not push for a pb til after the hm).


No pacers at my Parkrun, no tailrunners either -until the last two weeks


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