4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

PR? No, and that’s OK

with 4 comments

Came back from an early morning run, which was autotweeted by RunKeeper.  TK (Pigtails Flying) was up and out early and we had a little twitversation and she asked me if I was going for a PR at the Manhattan Half on Sunday.

It’s funny.  I hadn’t really thought about it yet.  The quick answer, of course, is no, as I’m not quite in PR shape yet.  But it got me to thinking about PR’s, a bit of history with them, and reminding me just how special they are.

My running goes in cycles.  It ends up slightly different every year, but if you normalize out my years, it goes something like this: Start running hard in Jan, including speed work.  Run hard through winter and spring.  Start getting run down in late spring.  Virtually stop running in summer when it is too hot.  Start up again in August when I panic about fall marathon.  Train for fall marathon, run it, and end the year in recovery mode.

For me, in that cycle, late winter and early spring is my sweet spot for a PR.  In fact, if you look at my half marathon history, scroll down in my results page, (how is it possible I’ve run 30 of them???) you can see my PR’s.  They have ALL come in the springtime, or late winter: Brooklyn 99, 00, 05, 07, 08, Queens (which used to be in spring) in 99 and 01, and Bronx 08.

But, this gets harder to do in each year, and that is the key point.  With each successive faster PR, you have to work THAT much harder each time to work back up to that peak performance to reach the PR. My last half marathon PR was Brooklyn 2008, where I ran 1:56:41.  Right now I know I am not near that pace, but yes, I’d love to beat it in a spring half marathon this year.  However, I’ll need to work harder than ever to get there, and hope injuries don’t hold me back, or there are no adverse conditions on race day, or any other number of things to keep a run from being perfect.

But, if I can get to that PR, it will be mighty sweeeet, and you know I will savor it, because once I hit that down cycle and start to work back up next year, who knows if I’ll be able to reach the same level of peak performance again.

Last year, I ran a winter marathon (Austin in mid-Feb), so I actually did not have a down period after the NYC marathon, and I was in peak condition in winter.  I actually PR’d 5 mile, 5k and marathon distances between Jan and March 1.  I will never forget how great things were in that period of time, and how special it was.  I hope I can get somewhere like that again, but it will take a lot of hard work.

Good luck to everyone running the half this weekend.  Conditions should be great, mid to upper 30s and dry.


Written by SCL

January 22, 2010 at 7:30 am

Posted in Reflections, running

4 Responses

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  1. Scott I know EXACTLY what you’re talking about! In 2008 nearly every race I ran was a PR of some sort–wow that was magical, I felt invincible! 2009 was a bust due to injury (with a couple of year-ending barnburners); and this year I am feelin unstoppable again.

    I hope you set a few PRs this year and can sit back in December with a smile and think I worked for those!

    (PS — “twitversation” ?? OMG!!)


    January 22, 2010 at 7:53 am

  2. I noticed that I achieve many of PRs when I’m not trying for a PR. Sometimes you just go out there and surprise yourself.

    I noticed the same thing with my running. I run really well through the winter and spring. I dread running in the summer as it’s too hot and I have asthma issues with high humidity. As the weather cools again at the end of the year, my running mojo comes back.

    Hope to see you out there on Sunday.

    Ari AKA Ansky

    January 22, 2010 at 11:55 am

  3. For me, my first post-marathon cycle has been the magic time – I set new PRs at 15k and 5 mile, and realized how soft my PRs at other distances (like 10k – haven’t run one since last spring and I KNOW I’d destroy it)are now. I’ll be at the half on Sunday but I feel like this is the end of the PR streak for awhile – haven’t been putting in the long runs like I should! Anyway, have fun and have a great time (pun intended).


    January 22, 2010 at 7:44 pm

  4. […] but this was my 8th (3 Grete’s, 5 Manhattan halves) so I knew exactly what I was in for.  As predicted earlier in the week, I did not see a PR in this race, and was predicting a finish between 1:59 and 2:00.  A month ago, […]

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