Last week I wrote all about how I felt like I thought I might be coming into form. Well this week I know that I have, and I’m writing all about what it is like to acheive a personal best.
A personal best can be many things. It is the first time you get out for a run, the first time you run for a certain distance without taking a walk break, the furthest distance you’ve run, the first race you complete. For most people however when we refer to a PB we mean the fastest time that we have done in our running career so far.
Starting off as a runner, particularly if it is the first thing you are doing to get fit, it is very easy to record a series of faster and faster times very quickly. Equally, if you are running and getting older, say you are 18-21, you will be developing physically and times will come without having to feel as though you are putting in much work.
But as you get older, run more races, it becomes harder and harder to do so. Painstaking hours of planning must be put into training plans, deciding how much or how little to run, what speedwork is neccesary, how to ‘execute’ a race. Then the hard slog must be put it in, hours on the road, pain in the lungs through repeated efforts, agony in the legs after hill, after hill.
Sometimes personal bests can surprise you. Running this weeks Parkrun I wasn’t thinking that it was going to be a good day – the legs felt very heavy. The bonus of a 5K run is that it is easier to surprise yourself than on a longer run where a personal best has to be planned. On the first lap I was dragged around trying to bridge across to the front three in the lead, and although I never caught them they were always close enough to make me want to keep pushing.
Personal bests are significant whatever time they are. I remember when I was starting off running and I went under 20 minutes for the first time – I was ecstatic. Since then ambitions have changed, but the sense of acheivement is the same.
After the second lap on Saturday I realised I was running hard, and on track for a personal best. But the time you want never feels in reach right up until the end. With the finish line in sight and less than a minute to go you realise that it is there – that feeling as a runner is absolutely brilliant, a feeling of elation which must be as thrilling for Dennis Kimetto breaking the marathon world record or for the thousands of Parkrunners PBing every weekend.
So now I have gone under 18 minutes for the first time. I was thrilled, and I was glad I remembered to thank the runners in the front group whose presence allowed me to chase down that time. With the Liversedge Half Marathon next week and now being half way through the training block, I feel confident about what I’m doing in training ahead of Manchester.
57.2 miles running
174.6 miles cycling