Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Setting goals, setting expectations, setting PRs

So, if you read between the lines, you might have guessed that I wasn't thrilled with my race this weekend.  I wasn't unhappy either.  It was okay, but I didn't finish it feeling like I'd broken down any barriers or achieved anything new.


I think there's a couple things going on.  First of all, prior to the race I had a time goal in mind.  I also had a limit.  I didn't really talk about either in my blog.  The day before, I was concerned that it was going to be icy, and if that was the case, I was prepared to throw any expectations of finishing time out the window.

As it turned out, ice was not a factor, so I gave some thought to finishing time.

I really, really wanted to beat my time on this course from last year: 1:00:12.  Last year I was hoping to beat 1:02, and therefore should have been thrilled with the time I got.  BUT I never really got over the fact that I'd gotten so close to beating the one hour mark, then hadn't done it.  I figured that should be quite attainable this year.  I had run 56:33 in a different race in October.  Even though this one was slightly more challenging, going sub-60 should be well within reach.

Here's the thing.  In addition to deciding on a very attainable goal, I made a limit for myself.  I figured I probably was not capable of setting a new PR.  I'd run that 56:33 when I was a month away from a half marathon, at a time when I was already doing long runs over the distance of the half marathon.  My running volume was way higher then it is now, and I'd been doing more faster running.

Those were my reasons, but the point is, I told myself that there was a limit to what I could do, and I could not hit a PR.

So, I ran a solid, relatively comfortable race.

I finished with a fair bit in the tank.

I honestly think I could have pushed myself more and gone faster.

I don't know that I would have set a PR.  Maybe I would have.  Maybe not.

I really think setting that limit played a major role in my race as a whole.

On the other hand, I wonder if part of this is just a bit of disappointment that I did a race without setting a PR.  After thinking about it, I realized this is the first time I've raced without PRing.  Every other race I've done was either a first time at that distance (automatic PR) or I've done better then previously.

I have to accept that I won't always set a personal best in a race.

But... I still think I didn't do my best on that day.

Live and learn.


  1. well I'm sorry to hear you didn't PR but it sounds to me like you're being really hard on yourself.

    However, if it was me, I know I'd feel the same way....so I wish you many more PR's in the future ;)

  2. I think you hit the nail on the head. We will get to a point that PR's will be fewer and farther between and that is just something that can spur us on or something we can accept. I'm kind of in the middle of setting PRs right now, but I think I'll have to learn this lesson in the coming year or two. I just will hit a point where I won't have the rapid improvement that we see when being noobs.

  3. This is early early racing season. I think you're smart to finish with gas in the tank and knowing you could have gone a bit faster. PR faster? Who knows. But that's ok.

    My take on it is that PR's are vastly overblown in importance. You can't compare races to each other, even the same race on the same course from year to year. The weather is different at the very least, and there may be other issues that keep it from being comparable.

    At this stage of the season you want to find out where your fitness is, and get your head around your goals for the upcoming races. You want to avoid injury, which is always possible when you're pushing hard. You hit your major goal. Sounds like mission accomplished to me.

  4. I'm struggling with this too. My motto was always 'get er done' and don't worry about the time. But I really think I should be able to push myself more and get more PR's. It's hard though. I like Keith's comment, he's got some good points in there.

  5. I think you're being a bit hard on yourself, considering it's the first race you've run in 4 mths and really didn't train for it, since you've sick recently. And you did improve from the same race last year!

    Based on your analysis, I think you'll definitely PR your next race!

  6. Keith summarized things well though I find myself wanting to PR all races even C races where I won't taper at all.

    I think it's human nature to want to improve every race, actually every training month. This turns in to a huge mental battle over time. I'm struggling with this mental battle myself lately, so unfortunately I don't have a solution for you.

  7. Keith said it right!

    Good work, you should always be proud, STARTING AND FINISHING, which most can't even imagine ... oh and realize how far you've come since last year even!