How Sarah Harrison Smashed Her 5k & 10k PB’s (By Running Slow)

How Sarah Harrison Smashed Her 5k & 10k PB’s (By Running Slow)

We eat, breathe and sleep the mantra of “running slow to race fast” here at Coach Parry. (If you want to know how it works, watch this short video)

 

So when we saw this post in our Success Forum from Sarah Harrison it made us so excited that we didn’t have to even start to convince someone that running slower will better your running… 

 

Charmaine Botha

 

...And if it’s not clear in the post above Sarah improved her 5km TT (which, by the way, happens mid training plan, not even after a 12-week training plan on race day) by 4 min 28 seconds!!

 

That is such a phenomenal improvement! (5km time trial times: 23 June 32:26 20 August 30:57 16 September 27:58)

 

Coach Parry always says that pacing and recovery are going to be your low hanging fruit and when you implement this in your training plan you will start to see improvements almost instantly. 

 

The key is to stick to it and not push even harder. Sarah only joined the Coach Parry Training Club in June last year after looking for a plan that would be able to help keep her more accountable. 

 

And by following these principles was already able to show such amazing improvements in her times. 

 

I love Sarah’s story of how she started running because it resonates with so many now-runners (who, maybe also don't consider themselves runners). 

 

Where Sarah’s Running Journey Began

 

Sarah started running in 2014, coming from a very inactive family this was extremely unnatural for her, but when a couple of friends wanted to try out parkrun Sarah joined. 

 

Sarah said she hated it! 

 

It hurt and everything felt unnatural but the thing that kept bringing her back was the comradery of it all.

 

Something I'm sure most of us can relate to! We run because it makes us a part of something bigger than the individual. 

 

As for most people; the bug bites (perhaps for some peer pressure) and from there Sarah was running 10km races quite regularly and had built up to half marathons, all this by only running on the weekends! 

 

She landed up joining an all-women running group founded to help women stay safe while running (CMIYC) and started to realise that running in the week and training properly was all a part of the therapeutic process. 

 

Charmaine Botha

 

Fast forward a bit and Sarah won a race entry to the Great Wall of China Marathon. (How's that for your first marathon attempt!?). 

 

She had only done a couple of 32km races but hardly any specific marathon training.

 

Sarah landed up finishing it in 7hr30 minutes (just to put this race into context a bit if you don't know - there’s about 8km worth of stairs in the race!) A valiant effort for her first marathon! 

 

But this led Sarah to Coach Parry. She knew she could accomplish anything and any race that came her way but she wanted to be prepared for the next challenge in the best way. 

 

And being South African the next obvious challenge was the Comrades Marathon… 

 

...Sarah took on the Comrades finishers plan on the Coach Parry platform, this happened to be in peak COVID lockdown in South Africa. And what I love about Sarah’s personality is she took every negative from the lockdown situation in SA and turned it into a positive. 

 

Lockdown meant she didn't have to do an hour commute to work every day, which essentially became her training time. 

 

She built blocks of consistency and positivity and was able to join Coach Parry live strength sessions from her home as opposed to having to go to a gym. In her words: 

"The beauty of this programme is the slow training runs, the focus on time spent running (not distance) and the gradual increase in time spent running. This allowed me to increase the time and distance that I was running gradually and safely, and without injury.

It also helped me to be more consistent in my running by giving me a plan to stick to. I have found the effect on my fitness and endurance also phenomenal.

 My 5km TT times have improved significantly, despite all of my runs being at a slower pace."

 

If ever there was a poster child for running slow to race fast Sarah is most definitely one of them!

 

Since then Sarah has also gone on to PB her 10k time from 1hr03 to 58:26 at the first 10k race In Gauteng post COVID - Alberton November 2020! Another phenomenal achievement! 

 

She has also managed to improve her 5k TT again by another 40 seconds! 

 

No success comes without struggle and for Sarah, her 5km TT was one more of a mental game to overcome than physiological...

Charmaine Botha

 

...She sought advice from a fellow Coach Parry Training Club member Taryn Alwright, (who has been a CP member for a number of years).

 

From there navigated her way to the hilly 5km time trial route set out, which as per Taryn’s advice, probably from listening to Coach Parry for so long,  included some walk breaks up the hills. 

 

And yet Sarah still managed to smash her PB! 

“Taryn’s advice was to run to the end of the road, walk the little incline, and then continue running. It made all the difference –

Instead of subconsciously trying to conserve energy to run the full 5km, I knew I just had to run 1km and then I could walk again – it was liberating!”

 

So what’s next for Sarah?

 

Sarah’s goal is to do an ultramarathon (whether that is Comrades or Two Oceans in SA) and of course, COVID presents some challenges with this. 

 

And so at the time of the interview, she had then hoped her next goal was to bring her 10km time to below 60 minutes which as stated above she has smashed! 

 

Here’s to you Sarah! For following the plan and trusting the process, and as a result reaping phenomenal rewards!

 

We at Coach Parry cannot wait to see your future progress and how you continue to smash those goals!

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