In the running world, you hear lingo like fartlek, leg turnover, long run, overpronate and setting a PR (personal record). Basically, it is when you finish faster than you have ever before in that particular race length (5K,10K, etc).
It is not about the other runners finish times or averages, it is all about your own personal accomplishment. If you shave off 15 minutes from your last racing finish time, that is quite an accomplishment for some. Especially in a marathon and even better if you have already run several. To shave some time off of your personal best takes a lot of training, dedication and discipline.
But what drives a person to do this? I mean when you finish a marathon in 3 hours you don’t get money prizes or your picture in Runner's World magazine. You’re simply one of thousands of non-professional runners running a race.
I thought it was really funny when one of my non-running friends asked me once at work on a Monday morning after a Sunday Chicago Marathon … well, did you win?? It always brings a smile to my face when I remember that because he was serious :).
Well, the truth is that I didn't need to win to reap the benefits. The reward was in the act itself. Only I knew exactly how hard I worked, how many social events I missed so that I can be well-rested and strong for my next training run. I learned how hard I had to work to be better and stronger... that was quite a learning experience.
To finish fast is a lot more difficult than it looks. When you see a runner nearing the finish line (after already running 26 miles) and she is sprinting… well let me tell you that is 100% drive because by that time the adrenaline from the start of the race is long gone.
The PR concept can be applied to anything in your life. What started out as a road race for me is now a state of mind. I apply it to pretty much everything I do. I have actually trained not just my body but my brain to know that I have control over my body and mind. I did this by running when I had personal dilemmas, aches and pains, headaches or just wanted to do some soul searching. You not only become faster but also sharper, more efficient and more confident. You know that you have control over your life and exactly what you need to do to tweak it. Those small changes can go a long way. It can even change the quality of your life.