Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Cool Nights and PRs

This is what a perfect night for running looks like
One of the terms which became very familiar to me when I started running was “PR”. It stands for Personal Record. And for many people who run regularly, it’s just as valuable as a blue ribbon or a first place medal.

To put it into perspective, think about Boxing. You are pitting one athlete against another. Both could be elite competitors and in peak physical condition but if you have one boxer weighing in at 220 pounds and another at 160, the match is going to be pretty one sided. To correct this, boxers are divided into weight classes.

Running doesn’t have that luxury. At best, most races are divided into age brackets but at 27 years old, I’m likely to be matched up against some guys that have about 26 more years of experience in athleticism than I do. When you consider that many races have literally thousands of competitors and only one guy is going to win in each of the 5 or so age categories, what do you suppose keeps competitors showing up to these races that they are destined to lose?

The PR.

Running is a unique sport in that even while competing against no one you are able to compete against an equally matched, equal weighted, equal aged competitor every time. Yourself. You can make mental notes of everything around any particular run: How do you feel? How much sleep did you get? What did you eat today? How much water have you consumed? What route are you running? What is the elevation change? The temperature? The humidity? They all factor in and you begin to know which conditions are going to help you peak and put up another record.

Last night was a perfect storm of sorts. I had consumed about 100 ounces of water throughout the day. I had a day full of high fat, low sugar foods, (I promise the debatability of such a diet will be addressed, albeit from a layperson’s perspective, in a future post), the conditions outside were a prime 60-65 degrees. From the moment I took off I knew it was going to be a banner night.

I ran a route I have come to affectionately call The Beast. There is a neighborhood right next to my office that forms somewhat of a figure eight on the map. At the peak of the 8 is a hill. A beast of a hill. The kind of hill that as you are running up you have to set a new goal every 10 feet or so, forgetting about the top, just to keep moving forward. But then you get up there and find a beautiful downslope for almost a mile. If you have anything left in the tank when you get to the top you can keep a remarkable pace almost the whole way back to the finish. Last night I had more than enough left in my tank.

There is a line in the parking lot that I have measured off to represent a complete 5k after you have run the figure 8 loop. I reached that line after 26 minutes and 47 seconds last night (about an 8:29/mile pace). A full minute and 8 seconds faster than my previous record. It was a huge PR and a huge record to beat sometime soon.

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