. . . or do they?
Google “how to get a running PR (personal record)” and you’ll find lots of advice:
- Run more miles
- Do speedwork
- Do running workouts specific to your race distance
All this advice is true, and yet if only it were that simple. If you don’t care about PRs, and I know there are many runners that don’t, this may not be the blog post for you. If you want a roadmap to PR, this also won’t be the blog post for you.
If you enjoy racing against yourself and trying to improve, I’ll share the real secret to PRs.
Yes, you’ll have to want it & work for it
It goes without saying. The truth is that PRs don’t just happen. They take work. A lot of work. Sometimes years of work. PRs can be small, too, sometimes even just a few seconds, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not an accomplishment.
Sometimes a PR will feel really hard . . .
. . . and sometimes they will feel easy. More often they will feel hard. Which is why you’ve really got to want it.
Let me tell you a little story about my biggest PR. It came at a time in my life when I was again spending a lot of time helping out my parents and had little time for myself. I ran a lot less miles than I normally do preparing for a half. It was a blogger meetup and just meant to be a fun weekend and I had no expectations for the actual race.
We were graced with really great weather. Several PRs were placed, some weren’t. I started running and realized I was running faster than normal, and it felt great. As the miles ticked by, for the most part, it still felt “easy”.
I broke through the rut that was my half marathon time with a big PR. I definitely wasn’t trying to run faster, I just let it flow and listened to my body (you can read about the race here).
That was my gateway to a lot of half PRs, in fact. Now let me tell you about the half PR I ran about a year before the FL race. The conditions were not good: cold, cloudy, so insanely windy I almost lost my hat and got pushed into Lake Champlain (you can read about it here). Oh, and did I mention the hills?
That race in VT was also a PR at the time, by 3 minutes. I was very happy with it, too, it was a challenging race under challenging conditions and I fought hard through every mile.
Here’s the real secret to PRs
The real secret to PRs is that they come from doing the work, mile after mile, year after year. Never throwing in the towel, even after a disappointing race — or even a string of disappointing races.
The cold, hard truth is you can have a perfect training cycle, hit all your paces on all your training runs, actually do all your training run, have perfect conditions for your race . . . and not achieve your goals.
PRs do not (necessarily) come from one training cycle. They come from the work you do, consistently — sometimes for many years, and never giving up on yourself.
Release the pressure valve, too
I have had my Instant Pot for a couple of years now, and I love it just as much — maybe even more than when I got it. Sometimes achieving PRs takes releasing your pressure valve — some of my most surprising PRs I have worked really hard for, but when it came time to race, I had no expectations.
No expectations doesn’t necessarily = PRs. On the other hand, sometimes putting that pressure on yourself can actually sabotage your race.
Morale of the story: workout consistently, work hard, release the pressure and let go of your expectations. It’s okay to have big goals, the hurt and unhappiness comes from when you cling to hard to them.
Do you care about PRs at all?
What was your most surprising PR?
What do you think is the real secret to a PR?