Chasing PR’s

There was a stretch of time a couple of years ago where I PR’d every time I raced. I was chipping away at older times in just about every distance, including varying triathlon distances. I was doing more focused speed work (running and on the bike) and putting in slightly more mileage. I also started to gain some confidence and set bigger goals. I don’t think I was doing anything special. I just think consistently breaking PR’s tends to happen as people start to get faster and a little more serious about training (especially if they don’t race frequently).

lungs 4 life 2

Finishing my first sub-21:00 5k in 2012.


And that all came to a very abrupt halt when I experienced the disaster that was the Eugene Marathon. I poured my heart into that training cycle and was pretty devastated in the outcome.


The final 200m in Eugene.

After the race someone (I think Jocelyn?) said to me, “I know you are disappointed, but when was the last time you didn’t PR?” I stopped and thought for a second and I truly couldn’t remember the last time I had raced and not PR’d.

And that was a pretty big wake-up call.

I was thrilled beyond belief when I got marathon redemption 5 weeks later in Bayshore, but that was the last time I PR’d in ANYTHING. In the last 14 months, I have had two good 5k races (in an untimed race and a short course), but no legitimate, official PR’s.


Hero’s 5k in Greenville that was actually 2.9 miles.

It’s not that every race has been a disappointment. In New York, on a training cycle that was interrupted by injury, I ran a smart race that I was very proud of. And two weeks ago, I rode my fastest bike split ever in a triathlon.

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NYC was also the most fun I have ever had running a marathon.

Those things are great but…I just really want to PR.

I realize that there comes a point in racing that it just doesn’t happen as frequently as it did before, but then what? I am not sure if I have hit a plateau that I will eventually come out of or if I have just kind of hit the threshold of my ability? Or maybe I just have had combination of infrequent racing and bad luck?

I do believe that I have a faster marathon time in me and I have had some great training gains over the last year, but it’s disappointing that a year has gone by and I am still shooting for the same goals.

I am not really sure what the point here is, but I have spent some time thinking about this lately and thought it could be an interesting discussion. For now, I think my solution is to just put my head down and keep training hard. I get a chance to try to break 2:20 in the Olympic distance triathlon in 3.5 weeks and then another crack at the marathon in October. In the meantime, I am curious to know everyone’s thoughts on this topic? Has anyone else experienced this? Any words of wisdom?


About Corey

I am a 30-something swim, bike, run addict married to my best friend and in love with my two schnoodle doggies.
This entry was posted in bike, Goals, injuries, Races, running, training, triathlon. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Chasing PR’s

  1. Ashley says:

    I so wish I had a good answer to this. In 2011, I was PRing like crazy. Like every single distance. In 2012, I was prepped for more, but started an entirely new career. I ended up working like crazy for a few months and barely running (still eeked out one marathon PR). Then in 2013, I broke my foot. Now here I am in 2014, no PR’s since 2012, and wondering if I peaked and didn’t even realize it. It’s really frsutrating to think about. But I hope we haven’t peaked yet! I don’t know about you, but I just turned 30…so I should still have some PRs left!

    • Corey says:

      It sounds like we are both in similar boats! It would be a shame if I didn’t even realize the “peak” had come and gone and I didn’t recognize it. It sounds like you have had some life/injury things get in the way, so I imagine that once you have the opportunity to train like you did before that you will have similar results! Especially since you are “only 30” 🙂 I am 34 and also wonder how my age plays into it? I didn’t start running *seriously* until I was about 31ish. Keep me updated on how things are going!!

  2. I think a lot of people go through this once they’ve been seriously running for a while. I had a string of PRs myself in most of 2013, and a 5K PR earlier this year, but I know it won’t stay that way forever. I’m already doubting my ability to PR in a half this fall thanks to a very up & down training cycle. This would be the 2nd half in a row I don’t PR at- bummer.
    But it comes with the territory. I hardly think you’re at your threshold 🙂 I think PRing now is more a matter of little tweaks (recovery, cross-training, sleep, etc) rather than huge training plan overhauls.
    On the plus side, a PR will feel that much better if you’re not getting one at every race 🙂

  3. Xaarlin says:

    I totally relate to this post. Like you, I was PRing at every race for a long time and then the last 2 years I’ve been pretty much stagnant in all distances. I was getting injured each year and having to take time off causing me to have to start from almost zero each training cycle. I’m going to PT to hopefully build up more consistency over time (injury free!!) so that my times will fall again.

    I think you’ve definitely got faster times in your legs. Maybe some tweaking of your training is in order to shake things up.

  4. When I first started racing I PRed every race for the first 2 years. The first time I didn’t PR I was upset … And then realized that its just not possible to be in PR shape all the time especially as you get faster and get closer and closer to the fastest you could probably ever go.

    I definitely think that you have a marathon and all other distance PRs in you! But it takes a bit more dedication AND luck than it used to be to PR now. You can do it! 🙂

  5. Steph says:

    Oh, god, yes! I haven’t experienced any PRs since 2012, well maybe the 5k last year? But, I’ve been chasing a half marathon and full marathon PR since the Fall of 2012. It was a rough 2013 for me, running wise, but I know things like that happen and I just gotta keep trying and keep on pushing to improve. I’m not ready to throw in the towel just yet! 🙂

    You’ve got plenty of PRs left in you, don’t give up! Sometimes it takes a little more work and fine tuning to figure out what it will take to get you there.

  6. Very interesting post! I think every runner wonders about this – you never know what the future holds. I’ve gone up and down in my running and, most recently, have been setting new PRs but it kind of came out of nowhere and surprised me. I know some of the things that contributed to them, but I was still surprised. I really don’t think your PRs are behind you, but I think there are always going to be peaks and valleys.

  7. Interesting. In one of my last marathon training cycles, I PR’d at every distance in between and got my BQ PR. Then the last one, I got the 5k and 1/2 PR but the marathon bombed (due to salt depletion). I know I have more out there, but sometimes it’s the timing of your training, conditions, injuries, and you never truly know all you’re capable of until you just give it a shot! Best of luck to you in attaining more PR’s!!

  8. Playing catch up blog reading, but yes- this was the case for me over the last year or so (before pregnancy) and I know it certainly won’t be the case again for quite some time. We can’t always be going up… it’s an up and down cycle for most of us. But I do believe you have some more prs in there!

  9. You know I’ve struggled with the same thing. Yes, I PR’d the 5K fairly recently, but 5K’s are something I have just started racing since coming to FL so I think I’m still in that build phase. The longer stuff (1/2, full), I haven’t PR’d since early 2013. I do think you still have a faster marathon in you, in fact, Batch was asking me your goal for Chicago last night (random, but true). So obviously he thinks you have a faster one waiting in the wings too. Don’t get too discouraged. You’ve had a lot going on in your personal life since y’all moved to Chicago. It takes time to get settled and find your groove- even more when things remain in a bit of constant flux. I have no doubt you’ll crush Nationals and turn around and do the same in October. xoxo

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