Athletics Magazine

5 Reasons You Don’t Need to PR at Your Next Race

By Brisdon @shutuprun

I don’t know if it’s just a quality of runners in general, but we sure are an over achieving bunch. Many of us have a difficult time running “just” to run. We beat ourselves up if we don’t continue to see improvement (or, is this just me?). This constant self-imposed pressure not only leads to a continued feeling of being less than, but can make us push harder than our bodies are ready for. The outcome of this? Physical and mental injury.

What would happen if we took a load off? If we just met running exactly where we are, not trying to be something that we are not? What if we stopped comparing ourselves to others or even to our our own selves at a time when we felt more in shape or younger or more on our game? What if we just loved running for running and weren't so tied to the outcome?

In this same vein, PRs (Personal Records) can be over-rated. Here’s why:

1. Not every race has to be a time goal. Leave your watch at home. Go for the experience, go for the scenery, go to be part of a greater community. Amazing things can happen when you get outside of the numbers in your head and you fully take in your surroundings. Be present, not pre-occupied.

5 Reasons You Don’t Need to PR at Your Next Race

Big Sur Marathon (where, from what I’ve heard, you won’t PR anyway)

2. Training runs are good too. Don’t go out for time as much as for the experience of being part of a race. It’s the perfect way to practice.

5 Reasons You Don’t Need to PR at Your Next Race

3. There is no comparison. Pick a distance you’ve never run before. This way you have no clue what your PR really should be. Any time you get is your PR. PR without pressure! YES!

4. Stop thinking people care. In reality, no one cares that much about your running or your race times. Sure your family and friends want you to be happy and want to support you in doing something that you love. But, at the end of the day (<most overused expression) they’re not judging you. And, if they are, why do you hang out with them anyway?5 Reasons You Don’t Need to PR at Your Next Race

5. It’s good to fail. Okay, that’s a bit dramatic. Just because you don’t PR, doesn’t mean you fail. The point is – there is no better way to relax and to ease up a bit on yourself than to not be perfect, to make mistakes and to realize it’s okay – life goes on anyway. It’s like when you buy a new car and you spend days, weeks, months trying to make sure you don't get one scratch or ding. Then one day while you’re grocery shopping you come out to find a small dent in the door. It sucks, but there is a slight relief in knowing you don’t have to keep it all perfect anymore. No one loves you less because you have a bad race, a DNF or don’t meet a time goal. You shouldn’t love yourself less either.

Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s admirable and motivating to have goals. But, when we get in the mentality that every race has to be our best race, something gets lost in the mix. Give yourself permission to relax. You just might enjoy yourself more.

Do you compare yourself to others (or to a previous version of yourself) when you run? Yes and Yes. If I have a less than stellar run, I can get down on myself (internal dialog “Wow, you can barely run six miles without stopping. How will you ever run a marathon again?”).

Do you attempt to make each race a PR? Not really. I’m pretty realistic about this one, and know where my body is at that day. I am also realistic about the type of training I’ve done. I typically go into the race knowing I’ll do my best, but understanding it might not be my day. Now, there are races I have worked my butt of for, and am I expecting a PR. But not every race.


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