On Racing and PBs

As an older athlete I haven’t run a PB since 1996 and yes it takes a little time to accept. So why do I continue to run and race? People have stopped asking me if I run a PB as it’s obvious I’m not going to when they know my age. In my 40’s I decided to set myself other goals, age groups and “beat my competitors” whether they be in my age group or my teammates, etc.. 

The running community is very quick to ask after a race did you run a PB? Shouldn’t we be asking: How did you feel? Were you happy with that?

Teammates Alex & Malcolm battle it out at the finish line. Jan 2020

I can honestly say some of my most memorable races have not been when I’ve run a PB. It’s very acceptable to have goals, realistic ones. I prefer the idea of an A and B goal. Is that to run a season best, or for Drew to beat Hans or Hans to beat Drew’s time etc., or to win the age graded prize. 

As we go into races, let’s take the pressure off ourselves and each other a little (although not too much, I’m not suggesting we reduce our competitive edge or spirit). It’s not always about PB’s, of course they should be celebrated when they are achieved and in some cases they can define our running careers. However, at the end of each race I would like each of us to ask ourselves, did we run well, did it feel good or did it hurt etc., or oh boy we hung in there, or that was such a battle Nikki and Katherine had. 

The challenge may not be to run a PB. During Covid-19 we are training under  difficult restrictions and challenging circumstances.  When the race is done and you go to speak to your competitor don’t ask them if they ran a PB, ask them how it was, thank them for being in the event and being your teammate. If you do run a PB then feel free to shout it out though because it should be celebrated and we will! Just remember, a race where we do not run a PB is not a “failure”.

Kevin O’Connor, VFAC Coach

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