Season Openers and PB/R’s

Season openers are scary. You’ve been there before. You’ve stood on the line. But there is always a mix of trepidation and joy. Kara Goucher wrote a beautiful piece about getting to the start line. One I read and used as motivation in my opening race.

I opened up at The Mt. Sac Relays again this year. It’s this awesome meet out in California, although unfortunately the usual Mt. Sac track is under construction and we were on a rather windy track at El Camino College.

This was not exactly the greatest preparation for an opening track meet. After returning home from Africa and recovering from my stomach woes, I managed to get the terrible cold that was going around. While I had intended to take about 5 days off training, this was stretched out while I had to let the virus pass. I headed out to Whistler to watch my favourite little one at Junior Freestyle Championships, and while the running in Whistler is beautiful, it sure was wet! But life happens, and those moments that make you smile, are worth so much more than a loop around the track.

Before stepping on the track I had a mix of feelings, pure excitement, gratitude and love, and absolute fear. I love racing. I love the speed of the track. I love the noise of the track. But having to go by the finish line over and over again, with not feeling well, I was terrified I was going to make a fool of myself.

I had a great time racing. I felt terrible, absolutely terrible. Low-grade-fever achy, coughing, tight-achy-chest. My legs just felt like they didn’t want to go doing some warm up strides. But I loved every minute out on that track. It was a good reminder that you cannot go in with perfect conditions every time, but you can still find an excellent result.

No, not PBR’s (because really is it any better than a Coors Light?!)

I was thinking about PB’s – Personal Bests (Canada) – PR’s – Personal Records (US) after listening to one of my favourite podcasts, Magnus and Marcus On Coaching, on my recovery run after my race. I would say that my season opener at The Mt Sac Relays was my most positive opener I’ve ever had. It was a personal best. It wasn’t about time, it wasn’t about place. It was about racing well, about finding that exhilaration, and stretching my limits.

I think it’s time we redefine how each of us defines our PB/R’s. Why do we only have to define our successes based solely on a time? We know life is so much more than a number, so why are we fixated on expressing our running only based on one thing?

PB/R’s are based on race strategy. PB/R’s are based on mental fortitude. PB/R’s are based on running economy. PB/R’s are based on what makes you smile. PB/R’s are based on integrity. PB/R’s are bigger and so much more than a number, than a time.

Redefine PB/R’s for yourself:

Set your own Standards of Success: My goal for my season opener was to race well, and with the 5000m being my weakest track event, it was not an easy goal for me to achieve. Stretch goals are good, but your goals should be based on what is important to you.

Don’t be Defined only by Time: I did not set a time goal for my race, but I did set goals related to time for the race. I wanted to see what I could do in the last kilometer, in the last lap. My coach and I joked before the race, we always discuss dropping out of a race due to acute/orthopedic injury. My abs and intercostal were quite sore and uncomfortable during my shakeout. We said that if they bothered me during the race that I would step off the track; no point in injuring myself. Unless it happened at 4800m! Funnily enough it did, and I had a little giggle in my head. My last kilometer was my fastest, as was my last lap. And while my legs were good to go at 200m, my chest muscles said no, but I still had a quick finish. And I never gave up until I crossed the line.

Race to Race: Have you ever done a race and checked your watch or splits non-stop? I have and it is definitely how I have raced all my 5000’s in the past. I let go of the lap times. I let go of the kilometer times. I raced to race. And in the end I was only ~4 seconds off my PB/R but the result was one I won’t soon forget. I raced to be in the race and see what my legs could do.

Run because you Love to Move: I was reading about excellence this morning in the Journal of Strategic Insight and Foresight. It was all about intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation, about how rewards do not really motivate us to be our best. I think running for times does the same thing, it takes away some of that intrinsic motivation, some of that drive to see what the human body can do. Of course, I believe in having some measuring stick, and time is a good one, but it should not be the only reason that you run. Run because you love to move, because you love to explore, because you love to test your limits. Find what makes you want to head out the door and let that motivate you to be your best.