You may have heard the term “PR” in reference to running, but what the heck is it? PR stands for personal record, which means it’s your own, individual best performance — and it can be your best friend when it comes to training.
Scoring and even simply eyeing a PR can help boost your runs from a casual jog in the park to a powerful calorie-burning session. “A PR provides a specific framework in order to achieve a goal,” explains Tom Holland, professional runner, Ironman coach and exercise physiologist.
That framework usually means a time goal over a specific distance. For example, someone may wish to beat their last PR of 3:44 in a marathon. Runners get even more specific and seek to run distances at a certain pace. For example, a runner may wish to run a marathon at an average 8:44/mile pace.
HOW CAN YOU PUT A PR TO WORK?
Turn it into a goal. “Reaching any fitness goal means sticking to your workouts — and a PR goal can provide a great deal of added motivation,” Holland says. In other words, it will help you stick to your runs.
To start — and set that PR goal — think about what you wish to achieve with your running. Next, you’ll want to start from where you are now. If you’ve never run a race and don’t yet know your usual pace or time, try timing your distances with MapMyRun. For example, if you usually run a mile-long loop after work, see how fast you go. That can be your baseline. From there, see if you can shave a second, or a few seconds, off your time each week.
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Let’s say you’re building up to a 5K distance, try increasing your distance by 1/4–1/2 mile each week. You can accomplish both in one week, too: On one run day, push your distance; on another, shoot to shave time. Baby-step goals can have a big payoff: A recent study published in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis revealed that when adults set short, weekly performance goals while working toward a long-term goal, they all increased their running distance.
For a more specific long-term time goal, Holland suggests shooting for a 10-minute mile or a 30-minute 5K race. “Where to start depends greatly on numerous factors, like your age and fitness level,” he says. “But a 10-minute mile is generally a good starting point.” (For reference, the average pace of a 30-year-old man running a 5K is 9:55/mile, and for women, 11:42.*)
Have you recently set a new PR? Share your experience in the comments below.
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT RUN