Look over the starting crowd at any running event, and you’re sure to spot the runners who are out to win. They’re the stony-faced guys pushing to the front of the crowd, wearing one layer less than everyone else, no matter what the weather. The gazelle-legged women whose shorts and tops would be someone else’s swimsuit. They’ve warmed up and fueled up and geared up to run out in the open, with no one ahead and next to no one around. The fortunate few who honestly believe they have a shot at being first over the line – and more power to ’em.
(Currently trending for trail runners: FKTs, which basically mean you are in competition with anyone who’s ever, ever run that route before, or ever, ever will in the future. Talk about narrowing the field of contenders!)
Some runners could honestly care less about any of that; they’re just out for the fun and camaraderie of the sport – and even more power to them.
Most of us though, are somewhere in between those extremes. We love running for the running, but also wouldn’t mind some props now and then, some mark of achievement to record in our logs and remember as we’re sweating on the treadmill. For us, one of the most rewarding results to chase is a new PR – a Personal Record at a given distance or challenge. (I know, some like to call it a PB for Personal Best, but me, I can’t get over the association with lunch box pbj sandwiches).
A PR is something realistic to aspire to and work toward, but what happens when a runner reaches that certain age where nature takes its course and PRs become distant memories? Must every event be a reminder that we’re all getting older every day? Not necessarily, for there’s a sure way to guarantee a PR – choose a new event!
With turns and grades and surfaces, every course is different (especially if you’re into trail running, where distances are never exactly as advertised, and even very similar distances can have drastically different profiles and challenges), meaning every new course is a new benchmark.
So any time you need a bit of ego-boost, find a new event, go out at a your best pace, and you’ve got a new PR.
Bonus Round: since that event is new-to-you, chances are excellent you’ll learn something about the particular course or field that will allow you to come back next year and beat your time, for another PR.
“…and double Score!!”