set a new running PR

How to Achieve a PR

Have you ever had a PR (personal record/personal best) without planning it? Just about every time I’ve beaten my last record, I did not plan on doing it. Only this time, I really didn’t plan on doing it. I knew I was going to smoke my old time once I got within the last few miles, but wow! I guess cold air and long runs just do it for me. Then again, maybe I’ve got some other secrets up my sleeve. 

I’m going to share with you all of the secret methods that I employed this winter and spring. Maybe they can help you get your own PR next time!

How to achieve your PR

Have a child that doesn’t let you get 8 hours of sleep literally ever.

my cool babyNow, for this step, you have to be a parent with a child who never lets you get enough sleep. Ideally, he or she will not only go to bed late, but will occasionally take over an hour to get to bed, so that you are too tired to get up and shower or do laundry with that precious little time you get to yourself after junior goes to bed. You’ll sit, motionless, until the last minute and decide to put in laundry at 11pm and take a shower. By the time you actually make it to bed, it will be a mere six hours or less from when your terribly loud and irrational little blessing will awaken. This constant state of fatigue, string of dreamless nights, and near delirium will help you during training because you’ll be able to use the quiet time during your runs to think about your life choices, and to fantasize about what you would do with eight hours of sleep.

Really phone it in during the week.

Thanks to work demands, a crazy child who hates sleeping at night, attempting to clean so we do not live in squalor, and overall exhaustion from life, I really phoned it in during the week. Can’t get out for three weeknight runs? Why not just do zero? Maybe you’ll get to the gym one day, or go on a stroller run one evening. Then you can reward yourself with a stale bag of jalapeño chips that you have to eat standing up lest you lose the spoils of your mediocre feats of strength to the sticky hands and feet of a tiny ginger maniac.

Over commit.

Say yes to everything! You want me to help with your event? CHECK. I should be a volunteer for your org? CHECK. Group runs, side projects, personal development, motherhood, working full-time, what’s that? Writing for your website? Check, check, check, check all the things. I totally over-committed this year, and whenever I tried to quit something, I replaced it with something even better and more difficult. Why? Because someday this will all pay off! How? I haven’t figured that out yet.

Stick to your pre-race routine.

hot peppersThe day before a long training run, I try to remember to drink lots of water, but usually I’m so tired that I drink coffee all day. At night, I eat whatever I can scrounge up. Sometimes it is cold pasta that sat on the counter until 9pm when I could finally sit and eat it. Gotta carboload! Other times it’s a mix of random bites and sometimes already chewed food, or slightly soggy granola bar fed to me by a sort of pasty primate who delights in helping to provide me with “dinner.” Knowing that I need to perform my best on race day, I do all of these things the night before a race.  Also, I make sure to relax with a local beer, get fired up with whatever spicy food I eat while standing at the fridge right before bed, and get a similar amount of sleep as usual which is terrible and not enough. Ready!

Run the course you’re going to race on.

This is not always possible, but I’m so surprised by the number of people who sign up for a race, train for it, and never look at the elevation or terrain. Not that I’m some sort of elite runner (obviously), but I was so glad that I ran the River Bank 25k course a few times this year. I knew every hill. I knew the flat spots and the hill that tricks me into thinking it’s the last hill.

Nail every long run no matter what.

winter running grand rapidsAlright, now this one is actual good advice. I haven’t missed a long run this season. At all. Not one. I’ve been doing long runs consistently since January. Pouring rain, blizzard, wind storm—I was out there. That was almost literally the only thing I’ve been doing right. But I guess it worked!

So those are my secrets. I was fortunate that race day was nice and cool. I can’t run for beans when it’s too hot. Plus, I did actually get some sleep the night before, and I ran faster than usual because I wanted to finish up and see my husband and baby boy at the finish line. The stars aligned and I bet my old best time by 6 minutes!

What are your secrets to nailing a PR?