A Lorra Lorra PB’s

February 2021 Handicap

As Cilla would say;

Particularly apt since it is February and Cilla’s most famous show of course being blind date

It’s been a while since we had 8 (eight, as the old football vidi-printer would display) PB’s in 1 event, in fact back to November 2019, so I thought rather than have the same old write up from me, it would be great to hear from some of your fellow runners who did PB – maybe their training tips and advice will encourage you to go for it next month.

A little from me first – at the start of the week we were hopefully all encouraged by the announcements on possible easing of lockdown dates. All being well it does seem like the 29th March is the 1st significant milestone and with that in mind, we’ll move the March handicap from the 26th March to the following week, as this will enable those to wish too, to run the Explorer House loop – remote options will definitely remain available for now though – & quite possibly permanently given future ways of working and non HQ based staff.

Overall we had 22 runners taking part on a wide range of courses from Glasgow to Bournemouth and lots of places in between. As I recall, the weather was pretty favourable, certainly in Southampton, which may have helped a few more of you get out the door.

Anyway, here’s the results

Red and Bold is a PB, yellow background indicates a non Explorer House loop

Aside from all the PB’s, congratulations to Naomi on her 50th handicap attendance, James N on his 25th and Baz on his 40th run

Now to here from some of the PB Stars

Adam Atkinson

Congratulations on your PB – what training have you been doing in lockdown?

In the first lockdown, in the role of PE teacher, I did a lot of running with my daughter – predictably, she soon became fitter and faster than me, so I had to work quite hard just to stay in touch.  Most of my runs are now with my daughter, and occasionally with my eldest son, which is really lovely.  Also, in a vain attempt to keep up with my son on the bike, I lost a fair bit of weight, which has made a big difference to my fitness. 

Did you set out with the aim of a PB?

Yes – I felt well rested, the wind was light, and I had my son to pace me round a fast local route.  I was aiming for 20:25, which would be a 14 second PB, and ended up running 20:18.

If you knew at (say) half way that you were on for a PB, how did you approach the rest of the race?

The first km was faster than the pace I’d asked for, but I felt fine, so I was confident of a PB from that point onwards.  I trusted my son to get the pacing about right, so I just stuck with him. 

What’s your next running goal – distance/time/something else?

I’ve been aiming to run under 20 minutes for the 5k since 2015, when I ran 20:45 at Brockenhurst parkrun, and that’s still the objective.

Well done Adam – also noting that he’s reached the age (we’ll all get there) where his son is able to pace him to a PB (Adam’s son is very quick though)

Naomi Stanley

So, with Boris’ roadmap announcement, some warm spring weather and the news (hopefully) parkrun will be returning soon I felt in high spirits as I set off for the February handicap.

It just so happened that it was almost parkrun o’clock on Saturday morning as the week had somehow disappeared with settling Zach into his new nursery, sussing out working from the kitchen table and attempting to buy a house! I always feel better in the mornings, so felt that this was going to be a good one.

Being waved off by my breakfast covered cheerleaders I headed out on a route I find rather boring as it just goes up a main road towards the university and back, but after many tried and tested routes, it is exactly 5k door to door and relatively flat. Just a few roads to cross, but quite quiet at this time on a Saturday and everyone I passed seemed equally jolly with the sun improving everyone’s mood.

As my watch buzzed to indicate the 1st km I realised if I kept this up it could be a good time. When I then managed the exact same pace for km 2 I was feeling positive. All sorts of mental maths going on, meaning at the halfway point I decided to aim for under 27:30. As I continued I kept chipping a bit of time off, and after the last final main road crossing I decided to just pelt it home as fast as I could. Coming in at 26.41 with grins through the window from Zach as I red faced panted from the front drive whilst attempting to cool down. 

Didn’t actually realise it was a PB PB (post baby personal best) until I looked back at times. Feeling ready-ish for the return of parkrun now. 

Magdalena Low

Congratulations on your PB – what training have you been doing in lockdown?

More hill running but other than that no targeted speed running/sprints at all. I guess I never pushed my limits that much before…

Did you set out with the aim of a PB?

Yes, I was trying to break the 20:00 limit and was lucky to achieve that trough having a super fit pacer, my husband and flat, track like conditions round a local pond.

If you knew at (say) half way that you were on for a PB, how did you approach the rest of the race?

To be honest, I did not really want to know whether I was on track or not and for that reason I did not look at my watch once. I just asked my husband to tell me if I had to slow down or speed up and just kept going;)

What’s your next running goal – distance/time/something else?

Stay injury free!

Congratulations Mag, a first sub 20:00 5k is a really big goal and you’ve been getting closer and closer over the last few months.

Lee Harvey

Congratulations on your PB – what training have you been doing in lockdown?

I was injured for the year in the run up to lock down, so followed a VERY long plan I found online to get from walking back to running 5k. After that I bought a Garmin Forerunner 45 and am following the 10k plan on that. My 10k will be this weekend (6th March).

Did you set out with the aim of a PB?

I saw that everybody on the list had done under 30 mins last month so I set out to do that. I was only a few runs back after a minor strain though so probably was a bad idea. But the closer I got to the distance I just kept on going. For the record, it was a terrible idea. I was not comfortable by the end, but I managed it a minute quicker than I hoped. Luckily there was no further damage to my foot (or lungs!).

What’s your next running goal – distance/time/something else?

With my first 10k distance in a long time hopefully being done this coming weekend, I’m trying to decide what to do next. I would love to get into fell running when everything settles down again, so I am thinking about increasing the distance to a half marathon rather than trying to run fast. So I’ll probably do that. I prefer the stamina to get around nice places for a longer distance rather than running really fast.

Anything else you’d like to say/add

After having missed out on well over a year of exercise, it is fun to get into it properly, even if I’ll probably only just plod along. I would advise anyone new to get the best trainers they can afford though. It helps.

Congratulations Lee and good luck with the 10k

Liz Cole

Congratulations on your PB – what training have you been doing in lockdown?

Much like most people I have been walking lots more – with school runs and the addition of a puppy to the family I’m out walking at least 3 times a day.

Did you set out with the aim of a PB?

I had geared myself up to ‘give it some’ so was really pleased with the PB.

If you knew at (say) half way that you were on for a PB, how did you approach the rest of the race?

I was just trying to keep below 8 minute miles.

What’s your next running goal – distance/time/something else?

I’m hoping to get under 50 mins for a 10k this year, also I’ll be trying to beat this 5k time hopefully when Parkrun is back in June (fingers crossed).

Anything else you’d like to say/add

Can I add a picture of my puppy????


It’s always Christmas in Liz’s house

Congratulations Liz and good luck with the 10k, a good rule of thumb for a 10k time (using your 5k PB) is 5k * 2 + 60-90 seconds, so you are definitely in a good place to go for sub 50:00

Jason Bugg

I started fresh with running again in January – usually one or twice a week – and have been doing what other training I can at home as well. I have made sure that each run is at least 5km, which really hurt the first time!! I also found running with my brother makes it easier as chatting makes the time go by quicker, rather than thinking about how far I have left to go.

At the moment I seem to be doing my 5km slightly faster, especially the final km where I really give it everything I have got – I think I just need to work on pushing for a faster pace up to this point.

Well done Jason and good luck on pushing faster – just go for small increments (say 3seconds per KM, which isn’t much, but adds up to 15 seconds overall).

Joanne Miles

Congratulations on your PB – what training have you been doing in lockdown? 

I have been doing much more running in lockdown due to wanting to escape from the house for a bit and meet up with at least one person (socially distancing).  I have been doing long runs as well as doing training, such as Kenyan hills, pyramids, 90 second reps (* 12) and challenges put on by the running club.

Did you set out with the aim of a PB?

Yes I did.  My last PB was 26:13 minutes and my goal was to get under 26 minutes. 

If you knew at (say) half way that you were on for a PB, how did you approach the rest of the race?

Through the fact that I know I would feel so good about myself if I hit my target.  I kept thinking this is painful but it will soon be over and I will feel great if I achieve what I set out for.

What’s your next running goal – distance/time/something else? 

My next goal it to do the OS Runners 5k handicap in under 25 minutes.  Not necessarily in March but at least within the next six months.  I also going to train to do the Southampton Half Marathon in September and I would be very happy if I could run it under 2 hours.

Anything else you’d like to say/add

A training/race partner can definitely help and encourage you not to give up when the going gets tough

Congratulations Jo – from a 25:35 5k PB, 25:00 is a good target and a sub 2:00 half is a sensible goal, with a good training plan


For those of us who still dream of PB’s, lots to draw out from these, but one thing everyone says is that you have to set out with the aim of a PB and 3 people have said that having a pacer/training partner helps during the race – they’ll keep the pace correct and will encourage you round. There may also be a little bit of internal pressure – ‘if my husband/son/friend is using their free time to help me, I should do my best‘. Different approaches to being aware of your pace though – some of the PB Stars are checking their pace regularly, others trusting their pacer to keep the pace correct – which just goes to show there isn’t one perfect approach for everyone.

Final word from Cilla