"Are you still running PBs?" was a question a friend, who lives on the other side of the world, posted today on my Facebook wall. It's a great one.
For me, running is not just about aiming for faster times but the desire to improve my speed (finishing times) is a key motivator in my training and racing. Aside from my debut 50-mile race I did in August 2010 and the 100km I ran in November, it's been a while since I had the thrill of a PB.
In fact, it's been three years for both the 10km and the half marathon, and 2-1/2 years for the marathon distance. I ran 39:51 for the 10km in March 2008 and 88:13 for the half marathon a month later. In September 2008, I did 3:07:10 in the Victoria Marathon.
What happened in 2009 and 2010, you may wonder? Well, I do too and there isn't a clear-cut answer. Having said that, one reason is that it's simply how improvement works. If I look at my 10km time, for example, by November 2007 I had yet to run sub-41 mins (my then PB of 41:18 I'd run in August 2007).
But in December 2007, I ran sub-41 for the first time, followed by my first sub-40 a month later in January 2008 and another in March.
I haven't run sub-40 since then. In fact, sub-41 has been a challenge. My fastest half marathon was another 88 (88:30) in the 2009 Scotiabank Half Marathon while my marathon times since my 2008 PB have been 3:10 (2x) and 3:11.
Do I believe I can run faster? Absolutely!
My key goal is to run a sub-3 marathon, as crazy as that may sound based on the statistics. And while I've not run sub-41 for the 10km in 2010, I'm convinced I can do a sub-39 and I'm absolutely confident that there will be a sub-88 half marathon in my future.
It won't be the end of the world if those expectations turn out to be unrealistic, but for now they are a key inspiration for my training. I believe the past two years have only been a calm before the storm.
How about you? Are you gunning for PBs? Do you firmly believe you can go faster? How important is that for you as motivation in your daily training?
As mentioned, expectations of performance in terms of chasing PBs is only a component of running, and one that is not on the radar for everyone. Exploring your expectations is a worthwhile and exciting activity, if you haven't done so recently. Thanks for asking Karen!