What exactly do you mean by personal best?

Non-runners who read my blog often ask me what a PB is. I tell them that it’s a Personal Best – when you run your fastest time over a specified distance to gauge improvements. They look at me oddly as if, well, what does that mean?

Funny thing is that when I listen to my running buddies, it appears to me that most of them are on a sole (excuse the pun) mission to increase their running speed and get a PB. (Hey, wait a minute? So it’s not just me?)

Achieving a PB is the ultimate benchmark for most runners. It’s as if this is the signal that they are getting better as runners. But I do wonder sometimes if speed is the ultimate goal?

Is your best always measured in terms of time?

Here’s where I’m going with this …

I’ve been busy at work refreshing my Key Performance Areas (KPAs) for 2012. A new process has been implemented and apart from the normal ‘doing your job KRAs’, there’s a new section called “Stretch goals”. This is meant to be areas where I manage to perform additional tasks above and beyond the normal KRA’s. But the measurement required to see whether or not I have achieved this is the difficult part.

You see, it’s not like running where I am able to record PB’s which indicate ‘best’. I need something more concrete because I can’t just use a PB (time) to indicate greatness for everything I do. The measure has to be tangible and measureable and different for each task.

But yet, in running, it’s okay to just use time. It’s okay that getting faster and faster is the ultimate measure of improvement.

I think this is sometimes where running fails. Because runners have become obsessed with PB’s that even all their “Stretch” goals are based on time/pace/speed. Are runners also training for goals of fitness levels, endurance or overall post-race recovery…or anything else? 

I do realise that all these contribute to better times and faster running. But is there an alternative measure than the PB? *just a thought*…

5 thoughts on “What exactly do you mean by personal best?

  1. PB’s aren’t the end all, they’re just the easiest measure of success/failure. We can go out and do a weekly long run that often takes hours, but for something as simple as picking a goal, we look for the easy way out? I find it so funny how a demographic based on long hard work can be so lazy in so many other parts of their lives!

    A personal best isn’t a very good goal. Any particular race, or any run for that matter, should have many goals – not just a target time, but a multitude of things you want to accomplish. Some examples would be fueling/hydration strategy, enjoyment, exploration, consistency, etc. There is a great value to doing and being what you intend to do and be, and personal bests sell a person short of what they are capable of doing and being.

    Running is a very “next best thing” culture, and that leads to too many of us buying into what everyone else is doing too quickly. You’re right that it is a place where running is failing us, it is a case of our culture needing to change.


  2. Where I started I was at the back. I do catch up as I go along. But as my distance increase I move to the back again. This has made me evolve into taking a long view about running. If I focus on being fast/faster all the time it’ll break my heart and I want to run with love in my heart…not dread and judgment of myself. So I run and when I shave off a surprise 5 min here and there its awesome but I soon forget that. Just finishing is at this stage is still a fantastic achievement. I always look from whence I come. Awesome blog lovely.


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