It’s all relative (PBs & running)

Last weekend I wrote about me helping Amazing Audrey, nailing her challenging target of a 30 minute Parkrun 5km. I’m so proud of her for grinding through the hard stuff and getting a PB and the time she aimed for.

Now I’d like to put this into context. If you know me, you know I don’t particularly enjoy running ‘fast’ and I’d much rather enjoy an easy social run.

Why make life hard, surely easy is better?

Put simply, running fast isn’t important to me, I’d much rather enjoy it and help others to enjoy it too. I like to help train and motivate people to achieve their goals, and on Saturday at Bictoria Parkrun, it all worked. Audrey achieved her PB and goal of a 30 minute 5k. 🙂

Now here’s the context – I find that some people think that race times or how fast people can run, are a measure of how good you are at running. So logically speaking, a woman who runs a 20 minute 5k should be a ‘better runner’ than a woman who runs a 30 minute 5k. But I find that whole theory false. Anyone can be a ‘good runner’.

But for me – fast = hard, slow = easy, so instead of thinking I want to go fast (not slow) … think, I want to take it easy… I don’t want to make it hard.

For me in my mind, easy and slow become the positive, fast and hard become the negative … but then we can handle a bit of hard stuff in our lives on occasion, so we can go fast on occasion too. Just maybe not all the time.

Maybe the woman who finishes a 5k in 20 minutes does more training, or has more experience running, but the truth of the matter is that we’re all individual, and it all comes down to who we are, what’s important to us and how much and how well we train.

Maybe some people are more impressed with the female runner who does a 20 minute 5k than the one who runs a 30 minutes 5k. But I’m impressed by anyone who puts the effort and training in, and runs to the best of their ability to achieve their goals.

So let’s look at individuality in running terms – the speed we go when running comes down to genes, body size, weight, what’s important to them, health, fitness, training, experience, motivation, heart rate, support… so many factors for one runner can be different for another runner.

I’ve found that weight is probably the biggest factor that anyone can change in themselves to make thinking easier and help them go faster without trying – lose 2 stone (if you need to) and you should find it easier to trot along. But it’s all relative to you and how you were before compared to now.

Now my Pb for a 5k is around 21:30 – it wasn’t even an event. It was about 8 years ago, I decided to go out one day (and annoyingly run against local football fan traffic on the pavement) to beast it and try and run my fastest 5k ever. Eye balls out stuff, it was sub 7 minute miles and it was nasty horrible. But I did it (and I haven’t done it since.)

Now my comfortable easy pace is usually 8:30-9 minute miles. My heart rate ticks along at 150 or less, about 80% of my max HR. I feel good and it’s more than likely aerobic and re-energising running. A sub 7 minute 5km for me on the other hand has my heart rate climbing very high and going up to max. Close to sickness, the body’s natural way to slow you down when you’re pushing too hard, I run fast sparingly because deep down I think we shouldn’t make life (or running) hard.

Now compare this to Audrey as an example. She did all of that on Saturday, pushed her body (and mind) to the max. Her usual comfy pace is 11:00-11:30 or 12 minute miles, and just as 830-9:00 pace is individual to me and all of my factors, Audrey’s comfy pace is individual to her, just as mine is to me, and yours is to you.

Her pace on Saturday was 9:40 minutes miles. Her heart rate built up high and maxed, her body tried to stop her by trying to make her sick, TWICE. Just like me on my 5km PB all those years ago, she was doing her best and running at around 2:00 minutes per mile faster than her comfortable pace. AND she was doing it for nearly 10 minutes longer than I was!

Your speed or pace is an outcome of your effort, fitness and training you out in + the conditions.

Speed = (your effort, fitness, training) + conditions.

I use heart rate to measure effort in running, and fitness and training can help to reduce your heart rate, or allow you to run faster at the same heart rate, so that formula can become:

HR (effort) + conditions (hills / weather etc) = speed.

Now, this might be controversial, but I actually think that someone who pushed them self to run at max or close to max for 30 minutes, is more impressive than the person who does it for 20 minutes. To stay strong, for half the amount of time again, it’s amazing. They’re both ‘good runners’ – it’s all relative to who they are.

Extrapolate that up to a 3 hour marathon running compared to a 5 hour marathon runner where both are pushing to their max, and both are impressive to me, but the 5 hour marathoner is doing it for 2 hours longer than the 3 hour marathon runner!

For me, time doesn’t matter; unless it’s important to you. It can be a good measure for an individual, and if you place an importance on time then it can be a motivator, but I don’t think it should matter that much.

(Measure = You can use a 5k time trial one month and compare it to a 5k in a years time after lots of training and weight loss maybe, and you should see a big improvement. Motivation to = train, improve, compete with yourself and others).

I’ve done my 3:28 marathon, 1:38 half, 44 min 10k and 21:30 minute 5k, but I’m probably not going to improve any of them any time soon. These might be fast for some, or slow compared to others, what matters is that they’re mine. Not yours or theirs, they’re my pbs to be proud of.

I ran my first Skye half marathon and shaved 13 seconds off my PB and felt great. 2 years later I ran the same route 13 minutes slower (and felt great at the end again.) The first time I placed an importance on running fast, the second time I didn’t and placed the importance on enjoying myself).

I know that my PBs are probably behind me, but the main reason for that is that I don’t really care much about my times, I don’t place an importance on it and I’d much rather run to enjoy myself and see what happens. And that’s fine.

Still, all the same, when someone does their best and gets a PB, it’s such a great achievement and one they’ll no doubt remember and be able to quote forever. 🙂

If we were all the same it would be boring and racing and running pbs can show just how different and individual and brilliant we all are. We’ve al got the potential to be good runners, and speed / fast doesn’t have to be a factor, it’s all relative.

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2 Responses to It’s all relative (PBs & running)

  1. Michele Osborne says:

    It’s been an age since I last read your blog but so happy to see you are as encouraging as ever. Well done to Audrey and to you. A lovely feeling doing better than you thought possible.
    Currently going through some major health issues of my own but doing Marcothon for the fifth year and probably at the slowest I have ever been but the exercise makes me feel better. Thanks for everything Lorn

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