on... PBs

So, what’s in a PB? Following a spate of PBs recorded at recent parkrun and at the world-famout LTT (Lliswerry Time Trials), I’ve put together a few words on achieving a PB. Note: PB being Personal Best, not a PR (Personal Record).

People have different reasons for chasing PBs – you may be starting out, watching the time drop and looking to see how fast you can really go. It may be a return from injury, taking the time down week on week as you return to form. Btw, ever asked a medical professional “so, how much can I do”? The answer seems to be “as much as you can, but don’t overdo it!”. Gradual return to form is best.

Sometimes you can find yourself on a winning streak – certainly winning for those who manage it on parkrun as there may be a new pair of shoes in it for you! There again, you can find that conditions on the day can dictate a lot of what’s possible – both external conditions (weather, surface underfoot), and internal – how are you feeling? Now, add to that your Mindset has got to be good too – if you don’t believe that you can do it, how’s it going to happen?

People have different PBs over different distances – 5K, 10K and Half Marathon. But what about 5 Miles? Some distances are quite rare to run, so sometimes worth doing just because you know you’ll get a PB. Some people hold PBs for certain races, or types of race – you can’t compare a “flat out-and-back” tarmac course with parkrun Newport for instance (as the Cardiff parkrun guy on the 22-minute parkrun pacer bus on Saturday will testify too... if you can find him!)

For most, hitting a PB is a cause for celebration. Validation of what you knew all along – that you can go faster, that your hard work has paid off. For others, it’s really not important – people run for a whole lot of different reasons.

How do you celebrate PBs? For some, it’s a great opportunity to splash out on whatever takes your fancy – chocolate, wine, or more commonly, how about a new bit of kit? Most of my new trainers (of which I am told that I have had a lot recently) have come on the back of 2013 PBs, together with new running tops. Though some new tops have been required when I realise that I don’t have anything to go colour-wise with the new trainers (yes, it matters... to me, anyhow). Luckilly, I can report that “maroon and white” goes with absolutely anything!

So, if you are on a path of endless chasing of a new PB, does this leave you freshly challenging yourself at every opportunity, or is it a path to frequent disappointment? Everyone hits a plateau at some point, and to move beyond that requires change – be that training, knowledge, diet or mindset.

In my opinion, setting a Goal over a longer period of time is better, and more gentle on the nerves than pushing each and every week to get that time down. Once below a set time, I like to establish myself under that time by being consistent for a few weeks before thinking about moving on. For example, if I’m going for sub-28 then 27:46 is great, 27:52 the following week is fine, but 28:03 is not.

In order to celebrate a PB, I think that you need to be able to at least recognise a Personal Worst too. This shows you the full limits of your abilities, and the fact that you don’t take yourself too seriously.

Celebrate other people’s PBs, either by driving them towards it and pushing them on, or gentle encouragement and recognition – different people need different treatment. One thing’s clear - your enjoyment of running is enhanced through sharing in others success as well as your own!