I have a joke with one of my friends called “past me would be proud.” Both of us are still pursuing competitive distance running post-college while also balancing jobs and lives in general. It’s hard. In college, it was understood that you carved hours of your day out for practice, not to mention the 24/7 access to the training room and a dining hall full of food you don’t have to cook yourself.
Although I do still have ambitions to run faster than I did in college, I’ve also come up with other goals I can accomplish – chasing soft PRs and celebrating relative successes.
Soft PRs are in events that I didn’t run often in college – the 400, the 800, the 10k, and to an extent, the 3000 – basically anything but a 5k or 6k. I already managed a 10k PR this March, so the spring is for tackling the shorter events. Lucky for me, the Atlanta Track Club hosts All Comers track meets every year in May and June where I have the opportunity to take on some of these events without pressure (or embarrassing myself).
The first event I ran this year was the 400. I sadly didn’t get a PR (under 1:08) as I ran 1:09 which is what I almost always run the 400 in. It is hilariously predictable. If you need someone who can heal-strike their way to a 1:09, I’m your girl.
Last night I took on the 800. I had my eye on a PR and hopefully a sub-2:30. I ran it last year and managed to tie my PR (2:32), so I was excited to see what I could do this year with a goal in mind. The 800 is a strange and incredibly painful event, and I grimaced my way to a slight PR (2:31) but no dice on the sub-2:30. There’s always next year!
When I’m out of soft PRs, there’s always relative success. This is where “past me would be proud” comes into play. I’m still faster now than I was in all of high school and the beginning of college, so even if I don’t run a PR, at least I’ve got that going for me. I managed to progress every year as well, so saying “senior in high school me would be proud” is not quite as good as “sophomore year college would be proud.”
There’s something to be said for consistency as well. I feel like I’ve been stuck in between sophomore and junior year college for a while now, and when I read this quote in Runner’s World a few months ago, it stood out to me. I don’t even remember who it’s from!
“My times were nothing special in high school. I read an interview with Deena Kastor in which she talked about being consistent and believing that results will come over time. I just had this feeling that I had untapped potential and if I stuck with it, I could be successful.”
Even though I haven’t PRed in the 5k since college, I haven’t gotten slower, and there’s something to be said for all of those miles and workouts and races. I also ran under 19:50 for a 5k tempo twice in the last 2 weeks when 2 years ago I fell apart during a 5k race and ran 19:56. To run faster in a workout than I have in a race always feels really good. Plus, high school me would have killed to run under 20. 😉