PR = Personal Record

I crossed the finish line and smiled. My fingers fumbled to press stop on my watch and looked at the numbers again.

A running PR. A personal record.

But just as soon as the smile reached my cheeks, the corners of my mouth started to fall.

A PR, but not a fast PR.

When I ran the SF 1st Half Marathon a few weeks ago, I ran a lot better than I expected on a hilly course.  Actually, I wasn’t expecting to run well at all, and there was a part of me – the deep pit in my stomach part of me – that dreaded it. I dreaded falling apart on the back half of the course once the hills started. I was afraid that nagging injuries would finally say, “Enough!!” And force me to not finish the race.

But I did finish. I haven’t run many official half marathons (this was my fourth), and I beat my previous best time of 2:08:58 by almost 2 minutes. I was elated. It was more than I was expecting on that day.

SF 1st Half Marathon finisher medal

In the moments immediately following the race and in the days afterwards, I found myself downplaying the fact that I had run a personal best. I began to qualify my finish time. “I’m not a fast runner but it’s a PR for me.” Other thoughts started to speak up – You didn’t run sub-2. Other people are still so much faster than you.

I was embarrassed to say that I achieved a running PR when my PR didn’t feel all that speedy. Suddenly, my accomplishment didn’t feel like much of an accomplishment.

Which is silly, isn’t it? Any PR is just that – a personal record. Not a world record or Olympic record. It’s YOUR record and the best that you and your body has performed.

So why can’t we own our own records and accomplishments and be proud of them without qualifying them?

PR personal record

Yes, I still want to run faster and I would love to run a sub-2 hour half marathon (which is part of why I want to run another race this fall). But I’m also going to be proud of what I have accomplished.

Too often we jump ahead to the next thing – the next race or goal or invisible tier – before we’ve fully appreciated what’s right in front of us.

Next time someone asks me about my race or my running PR, I will answer the question without qualifying the result. Won’t you do the same?

Have you ever felt embarrassed by your PR or other accomplishment?


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  1. says

    As a slow runner I definitely feel like this! I don’t really feel it’s worth mentioning that I got a PR if it’s so slow compared to everyone else! Yes I’m happy to get under 70minutes for a 10k, but I feel embarrassed about sharing it when most of my running friends are so much fitter and faster… I have to try and remind myself that for me it’s a great achievement and I am deep down, super proud of myself for it :)

    Well done to you :)

    Beki x
    Beki @MissWheezy recently posted..Barrecore in WimbledonMy Profile

  2. says

    Absolutely YES. You are definitely not alone on this one my friend. There’s always going to be someone else who is faster then me and, at the finish line, it can be tough sometimes. In fact, at my last half I had a huge PR and I hit a big goal and I was ecstatic! A friend of mine crossed 30 seconds ahead of me (which was NOT a PR for her) and was so mad and upset at the finish as I was celebrating. I think of that every time I think of that PR and it’s not a good feeling:-( I really hope you’re proud of yourself for what you did in SF. It was a PR on so many levels!! Own it!
    Allie recently posted..The Rundown – It’s Baaaccckkk!My Profile

  3. says

    It’s like you read my mind! I had this happen TWICE within a year: a full and half marathon pr, only by 2 minutes and NOT the goal I had set for myself. One was the Philly marathon when NYC was canceled, and my nyc 2012 sticker is still on my fridge with no time on it because I’m still disappointed that I didn’t run a sub 5 marathon. It’s been 2 years and I still get a tinge of regret. Thanks for posting, I needed this!
    Kristin Miller recently posted..The New Mom Highlight ReelMy Profile

    • says

      Once I figured out what was really bothering after the race, I was so annoyed with myself that I was getting caught up in the comparison trap! I do hope that you can feel proud of your PR because you earned it – no one else ran those 26.2 miles or those 13.1 miles. I hope that next time both of us can remember that and be proud!
      Christine Yu recently posted..Green Blender SmoothiesMy Profile

    • says

      I do think that social media has a lot to do with it – seeing and hearing how other people did but then also feeling compelled to share my times as well. Maybe I need to get off social media? haha. That’s not going to happen so I should just stop comparing!
      Christine Yu recently posted..Green Blender SmoothiesMy Profile

    • says

      I agree that many women have a tendency to put qualifiers on their accomplishments and compliments received. I know I do. I was so annoyed with myself once I realized what I was doing. Here’s the reveling in our personal awesomeness!
      Christine Yu recently posted..Green Blender SmoothiesMy Profile

  4. says

    I only started running for time a year or so ago, so I never paid attention to how long it took me to do a race. I still try not not have a specific number in my head when I get to the starting line. But inevitably I am always fleetingly a little bit disappointing in my time, and yes absolutely I then start thinking about the next race. Thank you for the reminder! Great post.
    Katie | Healthy Seasonal Recipes recently posted..hope, fitness and redefining what is possible ~ thursday thingsMy Profile

  5. says

    It can be all too easy to do this to ourselves. I hit such a huge PR last winter that now I have to not let myself get caught up in trying to beat that time and not being disappointed in myself if I don’t hit it or get close to it. I had my PR in Dec then ran another half in March. The weather was horrible (they ended up calling the race at one point even), and I was trying to help my running partner so I started justifying the time being a bit slower, still a pace I never in a million years would have imagined running just a year before. But there it was, trying to make excuses. In the end, it doesn’t matter though. I ran a good race and stuck with my friend. We are too hard on ourselves.
    Heather (Where’s the Beach) recently posted..Move.Eat.Live. Running, Tempeh Tacos and Relaxing OutsideMy Profile

    • says

      You totally inspire me with your running – how hard you work. And that’s the crazy thing – once we finish a race, we totally gloss over the fact that we have worked hard for X number of weeks to get us to this place yet we can’t be happy. It’s so silly!
      Christine Yu recently posted..Green Blender SmoothiesMy Profile

  6. says

    I am proud of you for your PR! As competitive as I am you would think that i down play my PRs because of comparing to others, but to be honest that’s how I justify my own runs and don’t compare to others. If I PR I feel like no matter where I placed is good enough for me!

    Having the satisfaction of seeing hard work and progress is the best, no matter what others are doing around you.
    Kindal @ LiftingRevolution recently posted..7 Things Personal Trainers Do That You Wish They Would StopMy Profile

  7. says

    Yes I do this far too often! In fact I’ve been doing it with my current training – I’ve put out there that I’m going for a PR but I’ve been reluctant to say what that is because I know it’s much slower than what others are currently running. I need to stop shying away and own it! Congrats again on your PR!!
    Michelle @ Running with Attitude recently posted..Training Update & Nuun WinnerMy Profile

    • says

      Thank you Michelle and yes! I totally understand and do it too – I rarely share what my goal time is because it’s not as speedy as others. I hope that you do stop shying away from it and owning it!

  8. says

    Agh yes! I’m guilty of saying “I run, but I’m not a runner,” or qualifying my “Yeah, I did it. Not quickly, but I did it!” Doesn’t matter if it’s quickly for me, or if three years ago, I couldn’t even run a mile without keeling over. It’s hard to be so proud when we constantly hear, read, or see of other people doing our same distance in half the time.

    But you’re right! That’s the whole point: It’s personal. I was SO unbelievably proud of my first 5k at the time, before I’d begun following other fit- and running bloggers who are titans compared to me. I had only myself to compare to (no real running buddies at the time, either) and I need to reclaim that original joy.

    Thanks for the reminder and inspiration to celebrate the personal records! I’m currently celebrating a 10k PR from this weekend and I’ll remember NOt to qualify it :)
    Dare You To recently posted..Summer Streets: Run RecapMy Profile

    • says

      I do think that social media has a lot to do with how skewed my perspective is on running times, etc. There are so many speedy people out there. On the one hand it’s inspiring but on the other, it can lead to comparison which may not be helpful. Congrats again on your 10K PR!! I’m so happy for YOU!
      Christine Yu recently posted..Green Blender SmoothiesMy Profile

  9. says

    For a very long time…and even now from time to time…I qualify my Boston Marathon finishing time. I say things like…well I ran with someone else for the first half…or there was a huge storm that day…or I wasn’t the same runner then. Let’s be honest here….I FINISHED THE BOSTON MARATHON!!! No matter how long it took me to finish, I ran one of the most famous marathons in the world and I wouldn’t trade that memory of the finish line for anything!!…no matter how long it took me to get there!

  10. says

    I struggle with this, while I love running I’m not very fast. I’m not winning races and I always preface my PR’s with I know this isn’t fast but it’s fast for me. I feel like in social media/ blog land unless you are winning races or running sub 9 minute miles I feel silly posting my times on runs. I need to stop but it’s hard.
    Renee at bendifulblog recently posted..Hippie Runner Headbands & A GiveawayMy Profile

    • says

      It’s not silly at all to post your times because there’s such a wide range of experience out there. That’s one the things that I love about the running community and social media is the diversity of people and experience – from people just starting out to those who are winning races. It is hard but we all do need to stop qualifying our times.
      Christine Yu recently posted..How to Stay CreativeMy Profile

  11. says

    Gah, this has GOT to be up there as one of my favorite posts. SOOO true!! why is it always on to the next, the next, the next, and not reveling in that CURRENT accomplishment? crazy how our brains work! I vow to channel this on my run tomorrow morning :) XO
    Jolene recently posted..A year later, yet so much more.My Profile

  12. says

    My problem is that my PR’s are from the 70’s & 80’s and there is no way I will ever be that fast again. Age/injury have taken their toll. So I decided when I hit 55 to reset all of my PR’s to zero and start over. Which sort of worked, yes I now have a shot at new PRs, but I still compare or in your terms qualify them against my “real” PRs, just the way it is.

    I still do enjoy when I do well for post-55 and think of the glory days hehehehe. Someday, I might surprise myself and there are distances that are popular today that I never ran back then, so I can get PR’s for those distances :-).

    Fast is an individual thing and we all have different strengths and weaknesses, but if it is your PR, be proud of it and enjoy results of the hard work you have done to earn that PR. If others are snobs or asshats about your PR that is their issue not yours. We work hard for our Personal Records and need to be proud of them when we achieve one.
    Harold recently posted..Week In Review 8-17-14My Profile

    • says

      I love that you hit the reset button on your PRs. The whole age/injury thing is one that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, especially since in many ways, I feel like I’m in better shape and healthier than I was when I was in my 20s but I definitely would kill to have my pre-injury legs back!! :-) I always appreciate your support and perspective Harold. Thank you.
      Christine Yu recently posted..How to Stay CreativeMy Profile

  13. says

    I honestly can find a way to discredit nearly everything I do.
    Since I don’t run at all, it’s hard to imagine not even being happy with running a whole mile over a whole day!
    However, I can totally understand this. You work hard for your PR, no matter that is personal. That’s even more powerful!
    Tamara recently posted..Sometimes I Don’t Give Myself Enough Credit.My Profile

  14. says

    I do it all the time. The words just come out of my mouth before I can stop them. “I ran 2 marathons…but I’m not very fast…I only ran them in xx:xx…” Like somehow my 26.2 is less significant than everyone else’s. Thanks for the reminder – I need to stop doing this!!!
    Sharon recently posted..Speedwork on the TreadmillMy Profile

  15. says

    Running is just another area of life where we can get stuck in the comparison trap! I’ve ran some “not so fast” PRs and while I smiled and “bragged” to my friends that it was good for me I did qualify it in my head, reminding myself that I have a long way to go before my times would be noteworthy.
    Running Hutch recently posted..#ActiveLivingChallenge | Recap Week 2My Profile

  16. says

    Thankfully I’m never embarassed by my accomplishments. Heck I came dead last in a trail race once and was thrilled that I finished. I have goals and objectives for sure but they are against myself, never against others or what others can do. I’m thankful for that. I can enjoy my accomplishments even if they are minimal to someone else. Congrats on your PR…that’s awesome. I can only imagine how tough that course is to run.
    Robin recently posted..Run #1 – ENDURrun (Stage 5) – 25.6K Trail RunMy Profile

  17. Holly says

    I find myself doing the SAME thing. In June I ran my first full and knew that my accomplishment was just going to be finishing. I really didn’t have a time goal – except hoping for under 5hrs. In the end I finished with 4:54. Definitely NOT speedy! I found myself telling people when they asked about it, “It was a great day.” intead of focusing on the time. And that sums it up!

  18. says

    As someone who is in awe of anyone who can run more than 30 minutes at a time, I think you’re doing yourself a great discredit when you downplay your own bests. But I think it’s also almost natural for us to do that, isn’t it? Like we’re not allowed to feel good about an achievement, if it’s not ‘up to par’ to society’s definition of success.

    I’m glad you see the light, and that you own your personal best, because it IS AWESOME.
    Alison recently posted..Exactly Where I Need To BeMy Profile

  19. says

    Yes – I’ve totally been there! Last summer, June 2013, I entered a powerlifting competition and got PR’s for my bench and deadlift. I “won” my weight class because there were no other competitors in my class. But I didn’t feel like my trophies actually counted since I hadn’t beat anyone. I totally forgot I’d just beaten MY personal best!
    Jessica @ Absurd, She Wrote recently posted..The Mystery of the DiapersMy Profile

  20. says

    Oh yes, and regularly. It was easy to slip into it, this past weekend when I was in a van full of people who ran faster – some a lot faster – than me in the relay we were doing together! But I had some accomplishments in the relay! Still, I am wary of gloating; my first marathon is in (GAH!) 46 days.
    Arah recently posted..Loving Loos and Ragnar Relay in 2014My Profile

  21. says

    I think it’s human nature to want to compare ourselves to others, but I don’t think it’s healthy! I try so hard not to compare, but of course I do–why did that person start running two months ago and they’re already faster than me, why can that 250-lb. man beat me, why is that 60-year-old woman beating me… I need to just tell myself STOP IT and enjoy my victories sometimes. CONGRATS on your PR. That is a huge accomplishment. And I’d love to run a 1/2 in that time. :)
    jan recently posted..Random Wednesday UpdateMy Profile

  22. says

    My first thought was never. A pr is my pr, I’m running my own race. Sure I’m never going to be as fast as others, but that’s ok, they aren’t me.
    Yeah it’s human to compare ourselves to others, but they aren’t me, they don’t have my gene’s. So enjoy your pr, own it, it’s yours and yours alone.
    Matilda recently posted..Speedwork Sessions #2My Profile

  23. says

    Great post. I’m not a fast runner at all, so I have to remind myself that finishing any race should be celebrated, regardless of time. And when I reach a PR, I should be proud. I’m not competing with anyone else. I’m competing with who I used to be (not a runner).

  24. Kate says

    Oh my gosh, shaving 2 minutes off your time on that course is no joke! After pounding your quads down Lincoln, only to hit the hills through the Richmond, holy smokes…

    I also ran the SF 1st Half this year — my first half ever. I had a related issue with owning how proud I was when I talked about the race: People would ask “Hey how was your marathon?” and I’d have to launch into “Well, I ‘only’ ran the half.” Hello?! I finished, and I’m stoked!

    All of this to say: You rocked it, and this post is a great reminder to own our achievements. And maybe also to pay it forward — I’ve been so grateful for the runners who are generous with their enthusiasm (like my Ironman friend who was way enthusiastic about my half training).

    Keep on keepin’ on. :)

  25. says

    I always downplay my PR, I feel like I’m always super slow, especially in comparison to others. My 5km PR is 34 minutes and 36 seconds and I still feel like that is slow! I always need to remind myself that my best is my best, and that nothing else can compare!
    Amalia recently posted..Five Things I Loved About BlogfestMy Profile

  26. says

    This fits in very nicely with some recent thoughts I’ve had about running “just a half-marathon”, in an event with a full, half, and 10K. As a coach, I would come down swiftly and strongly on any of my athletes (or anyone talking to/about them) who said they were running “JUST a half-marathon”. But for myself? So quick to downplay. Even afterwards: “Yes, I PR’d, but I *just* ran the half-marathon.” WHY do we do this to ourselves?!?!

  27. says

    Let’s see…my prs consist of some records set in local mountain runs, a 3:40 marathon, a 1:45 half, a 41:00 10k, the Grand Canyon crossing in less than five hours, a doubleGC crossing in 12:30, a half IM in 5:50 , a sub 15:00 Ironman at age 55….
    and all those times actually SUCK! and they don’t mean a thing! There are so many more important milestones in life…really.


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