With a new year starting, I am sure most of us runners are plotting out our 2016 race schedule. I know I like to have a list of races by the beginning of the year for several reasons. I don’t want to miss a great January race. I also find I manage to keep my mileage steady if I have a race in the training stages.
The big question is what do you do about races you have run in the past. Do you figured you ran that once? No need to run it again. Or, like myself, do you like to go back an re-run a race to try and do better? I have certain races that I have run several times and enjoy. I like the other runners who show up. I like the challenge of the course. I like the overall area where the race is held.
My son – a collegiate diver while in college – and I frequently have discussions about the difference between a personal best and a personal record. He holds that for any given distance there is the personal best. For any given race course, there is a personal record. The reasoning for two different terms, or definitions, is that each course will yield a different time, even with the same distance. There are so many variables on a course that a record would be for an individual course. On the other hand, all those marathons, or half marathons or 5Ks you run will yield a personal best at that particular distance.
Let’s compare by using a 10 mile course. The first year I raced I ran two different 10 mile races. The first had massive elevation and ended being unseasonably warm for the first weekend in May. I finished in 2:12. The second, four months later, was fairly flat and a seasonable day. I finished in 1:57. My personal best for 10 miles would be 1:57 but each course has a different personal record. Needless to say, I have not re-run either of these races due to other conflicts on those dates.
On the other hand, my second half marathon has been run four times. It is a local – fairly local but about 40 miles to Ithaca, NY – race and I love it as it starts on the campus of Cornell University and runs on the roads around the campus. When I started off in 2010, I ran it in 2:48 – four minutes faster than my first half marathon a month earlier. By 2012, I managed to run the course in 2:29 – my half marathon personal record and this course’s personal best. 2013 caused a slight change in the course as Bob Dylan was playing at Cornell that evening so the finish line had to be moved. I ran neither a PR or a PB this year. I love this race but have probably run it for the last time as I am moving so will not be running it this year.
The question remains. Do you re-run races? Does your race schedule look the same year to year? Or, do you vary where you run?
This piece first appeared on therunchat.com in 2014.