Once you’ve run your first road race, you have a PR, or a “Personal Record,” sometimes called a PB or “Personal Best” for that race distance. The first PR is always the easiest, just by finishing the race, you have set one. Future PRs can prove more and more difficult. You start to analyze the weather, because maybe you run best in 50F degree temps or the humidity was really high at the start, and you analyze the course, because that race was very hilly or had lots of curves, and you analyze the time of day, because for some reason you run best in the evening races not the early morning ones, and you analyze the other runners, big races are tough with thousands of other runners crowding the course or the small race’s field was competitive enough to push you faster in your pacing. There are lots of reasons why your last race wasn’t your fastest. Plus as any Olympic athlete will tell you, shaving seconds off fast times is hard work.
Let’s face it personal records, personal bests, don’t come around that often, they can stand for years and eventually one will get set that will never be broken by you. As runners we often tout, “your race, your pace” because as much as races are group events, races really are a group of individuals racing themselves, their own times, their own personal records. We all achieve our personal bests in our own way – need proof? I pinned the Runner’s World article, 97 Ways to Run a Personal Record, quite a while ago, every once in a while I reread it to remind myself that there is no one way to improve; runners cite everything from quitting smoking to eating oatmeal as reasons for their PRs. However you get to your personal best and whatever your personal record is, it is a perfect opportunity to celebrate and to shout from the rooftops.
As adults we have too few opportunities to really celebrate our singular individual accomplishments. When we PR we much more than just #nailedit, we set the bar! As children, we have these opportunities far more frequently; a 100% on a test, straight A’s honor roll, winning the little league tournament or the soccer 3v3 tournament, getting the lead in the school play, getting the solo in the school concert, science fair awards, etc., there are multiple opportunities growing up to achieve moments of greatness. As an adult no one has ever given me an award for best laundry folding or fastest laundry folding (granted I would never win this award if one existed), and while I have received recognition awards at work they are for a job well done not for being the very best at something. Atta boys, are not the same as Olympic Medals or Nobel Prizes, they are good but not the greatest thing ever. But in this life of ordinary, I venture to say that setting a PR in that moment is the same as an Olympic Medal; it is the very best, and as such, we as adults should shout it to the rafters, “I PRed today!” without worry that someone will think we are bragging.
Tell me about your most recent PR…did you run your first race? Run a new distance? I just ran my first 3K race, automatic PR (woo hoo!) and I have an 8K race coming up in a couple of months. Are you chasing a PR? For all of 2015, I was trying to get my Half Marathon times back to preinjury times, and then shave 70 more seconds off, which finally happened and then some in 2016. Let’s share and celebrate together the awesomeness that is a PR!