Setting a running PR is not only rewarding in the moment, but it often motivates runners to continue to improve. Whether you’ve conquered a new marathon PR after months of training, or continue to PR in the 5k, setting a personal record is a great achievement.
What is a PR in running?
When it comes to running, the term “PR” is used as an abbreviation for personal record. A personal record in running means that a runner has completed a certain distance faster than they ever have before.
PR can also be used in reference to distance. For example, a runner might set a distance PR if they run further than they ever have before.
Why try for a running PR?
One of the best parts about running is that it is so inclusive. You don’t have to be the fittest, fastest or strongest runner out there in order to participate in road races. You don’t have to run a certain pace or distance to participate either.
Since road races are so inclusive, it means that 99.9% of runners are never competing to win. In order to keep the competitive feel, many runners compete against themselves by working towards a personal record.
Setting a running PR shows that you are improving. If you’re able to achieve a new PR in running, you’ll know that all of your hard work during training has paid off. PRs are a great way for runners to set goals, focus their training, and work towards new challenges.
How can I beat my PR?
The competition doesn’t have to end once you achieve a PR. Most runners continue to work to beat their running PR and get faster or run longer.
A great way to beat your PR in running is to add in speed workouts, increase your pace during training, or try something new. If your method has worked in the past, you’ll likely be able to simple increase your pace on the same workouts.
If you’re aiming to cut a lot of time off your running PR, trying something new during training could make all the difference. Taking the time to experiment with different workouts and strategies before training for your new PR will help set you up for success.
How to Set Your Personal Record Goal
Be realistic with your expectations as you try to narrow down a goal for your PR in running. Selecting something too close to your current PR will likely be too easy. An easy goal won’t keep you motivated during training, or help you meet your full potential.
However, on the other hand, setting a PR goal that is too challenging will leave you feeling frustrated, or wanting to give up.
As you try to pinpoint your next goal for a PR in running, take into consideration all factors that may influence the result. Your current fitness level and the amount of time you have available to train can all play a large role in your success.
External factors, such as the length of time you have to work towards a running PR, as well as the PR race you will be running can influence your success as well.
Keep track of your PRs and training splits along the way. Try running a few different races for practice to get an idea of what is possible, and don’t expect to achieve a personal record at every finish line.
How to Find PR Races
The race you run can play a huge role in your ability to achieve a running PR. When searching for PR races, there are a few factors that could help maximize your chance for success.
- Flat elevation profile (or very minimal elevation change)
- Smaller field size (less congestion on the course)
- Mild climate (not too hot or humid; not snowy or windy)
- Crowd support or spectator access (to help you stay motivated)
7 Tips to Get a Running PR
When you’re hoping to set a personal record in running, you’ll want to create (or find) a training plan that will best help you achieve your goals.
Achieving a new running PR will take time, effort and perseverance. It may not always happen as quickly as you’d like, but with some determination and an effective strategy, it’s bound to happen eventually. Here are 7 tips to help you achieve a new PR in running.
Slow down for easy runs
It might sound counterintuitive, but slowing down the pace can actually help you run faster. Focus on keeping your easy runs just that: easy. Easy runs, warm ups, cool downs and recovery intervals should all be completed significantly slower than your goal pace – think at least 2 minutes per mile slower.
Aim for negative splits
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when aiming for a running PR is starting out to fast. To avoid this, create a strategy for race day that involves running negative splits. Focus on keeping the first few miles stable and controlled before picking up the pace near the end.
Practice efficient running form
Nothing slows you down more than a wacky arm swing or slow cadence. Take time during training to evaluate your running form and make any adjustments necessary. Rather than powering through simply because you can, slow things down for a few days to create new, efficient habits before your next running PR.
Increase base mileage
Another strategy that might help you achieve a PR in running is to increase your base mileage. If you’re wanting to improve your strength and fitness on the run, adding just a few miles to your training schedule each week might make a difference.
Plan a practice race
It’s been said before and I’ll say it again: practice makes perfect. Try incorporating a few races in your training schedule so you can practice your fueling, water stops, pre-race routine and running negative splits. The more you practice racing, the more comfortable you’ll feel during your PR race.
Vary your speed workouts
If you feel like you’re working hard during training and still not getting a running PR, it might be time to try some new speed workouts. Mix things up during training and be sure to include a variety of different workouts. Alternate between tempo, intervals, strides, race pace and more.
Strategize for the course
Glancing through the course profile and race information ahead of time can help you create a game plan for race day. If there is an elevation change, be sure to incorporate hills in your training. Plan where you’ll see your family, where you’ll stand in the starting corral, and during when you’ll pick up the pace,
Allow yourself enough time to make the appropriate improvements to your fitness. Be realistic; aiming to cut a minute per mile off your pace during a distance race won’t be something you can achieve after just one month of training.
Take your time, be diligent, and don’t give up if you can’t achieve a PR in running on your first try. Remember that the longer you work towards your goal, the sweeter the accomplishment will feel.