Thursday, June 3, 2010

PRfection or PRfidy?

Sooner or later it had to happen. So why did I try so hard to avoid it?

It is easy to get a PR (personal record) when you first start running. Your first race is automatically your best and with a little effort, you can easily improve on your humble beginnings. At some point though, no matter how hard you work or train, there comes a race which is not your best. It was a small comfort that when my time came this past Sunday, it was accompanied by a trophy for second in my age group. Still, I find myself wondering why the PRs mean so much to me and whether I went about setting them in the right way.

I recently sat in assembly where students were recognized for qualifying for the Honors Society. As I looked at all the students who qualified, I couldn’t help but wonder, perhaps a little cynically, whether so many students were up there due to hard work and a love of learning, or due to taking the right the courses and figuring out the system.

As my PRs started to come with smaller decreases in time, I found myself worrying about the inevitable. I started trying to make sure that I found races that would make it easier to succeed. Temperature between 47.807 and 49.753 degrees? Check. All downhill? Check. I found myself wondering whether a 5k where I would jump off a high mountain would be worth the PR despite the rough landing. Then it grew worse. I wanted some sort of recognition. Ideally to win a race, or at the least, recognition within my age group. My race on Sunday had far less serious competition than the race the next day put on by my running group, a race I had planned to run. I had reasons to run Sunday’s race, but still, I wondered whether I was just copping out. What would be next? Entering only races where the only competition is the local kindergarten B team?

Is a PR or trophy a worthy goal in and of itself? Is an “A” earned in an easier course worthy of praise? It’s worth remembering what it’s really about, or at least, what it should be about.

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