Lately I’ve been thinking about the highs and lows of running. It seems lots of my running friends have had either epic highs, or are suffering with running struggles. The tales of running the race of a lifetime or of having to take weeks off due to injury always hit home. I think most runners know the exhilaration of a great race, and the pain of being injured. We all know the sheer joy of achieving a new PR, and the disappointment of a race badly run. However, after achieving a few new Personal Worsts (PWs) lately, I have a new outlook on the PW. Why is it that most runners (myself included) avoid PWs? Sure, it’s important to push yourself and strive to improve upon the past, but sometimes I think there is a place for just gutting it out and finishing a run or a race, knowing it will be far from your best.
I have run two recent half marathons in less than ideal situations, with very different outcomes. One, in Florida, I went into ridiculously undertrained. I hadn’t run a long run of more than 7ish miles in the 6 weeks before the race. The weather was questionable, with serious storms and deluges of rain expected. I went into the race expecting to just finish, and hoping it wouldn’t be the slowest I had ever run. It ended up being my PR. Last weekend, I ran a race in record heat, suffering the whole way. I was well trained, had my nutrition right, and was ready to execute a good race. At mile 4 I had a heart-to-heart with myself and decided to just finish, and to embrace the PW if it came to that. It wasn’t my all time PW, but it was pretty close. I have been thinking about the PW ever since. I think that sometimes surviving a bad race, gutting it out when you want to quit, or making the conscious choice to go slowly deserves recognition. Sometimes a PW can be a special kind of PR – one of perseverance. It’s because of my PWs that I know what I’m capable of. And I’m loving every wonderful, horrible, minute.