When Your Best Isn’t Your Best Anymore

I’ve read that one of the best things about being a new runner is that nearly every race you run has a chance at being a PR (personal record). When you first start, you might just have a goal of finishing. Then comes the desire to run the whole thing without walking. Then it’s to beat your best time. And then maybe to beat a particular time (such as a sub-30 5K) or to beat someone else.

But somewhere along the line, you start to max out. Despite all the training you do, you reach the point that you physically can’t do any better than what you’ve done; your body has done it’s best. And for older runners, sometimes you must come to terms that your true PR was set in your 20s, and now you’re just shooting for a PR for your 30s or 40s or 50s.

I’d like to think that I’m not quite at my personal best yet, but I have reached the point where I will no longer be setting a PR with every race I run. It’s kind of a weird feeling.

Today I ran the Warm Your Heart indoor 5K. Originally when I registered, I thought it might be a good race to finally reach my sub-30 goal. However, as the race got closer, I realized it wasn’t going to happen. I’m still struggling with knee problems (I’m going to see a specialist next week) and I’ve been still reveling in my post-marathon laziness. I think I’ve done a total of 4 runs since Disney, and they haven’t been pretty. I’ve had my knee, my lungs, and just general lethargy working against me. So, going into today, I knew this wasn’t the day to beat 30:07.

But, not even having a hope for a PR wasn’t as depressing as you’d think. In fact, I’m kind of proud that I have reached this point. It sounds weird, I know. But the fact that I am doing the best my body is capable of means I’ve come a long way from my first 5K. (I finished in 49:49.) I’ve gone from shaving minutes off my time, to seconds making a difference. And I didn’t have to be so hard on myself when I had to stop and walk today, because I knew I was listening to my body – which is more important than a finishing time.

That said, this wasn’t my best race. The dry indoor air was killer on my lungs. My knee bothered me worse than I thought. And the overall feeling I had when I was running reminded me that I really have been slacking lately, and it was a big wake-up call for the two races I have coming up in March. I’m okay with having a bad race, but I am not okay with becoming lazy. I know I still have PRs left in me, and I also know I have to do a lot more work now to reach those.

Next week when I go to the sports doctor for my knee, I will figure out where to go from there. My first priority is getting myself healthy and injury-free. After that, I will keep on working to do my best. And I’m pretty confident that in addition to my current best, I still have some “best-evers” left in me.



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