A Surprise PB

I’ll be completely honest with you here, I actually never expected to get a PB ever again. Well, not in any of the distances I normally run anyway. Obviously, if I run a 100km ultra I’ll get a PB, maybe even a couple, but as far as one mile to marathon events go, I thought I was pretty much done. My mindset on running has changed you see. Back then I was competitive, I was desperate to get faster and I pushed myself to the point where it just wasn’t fun.

I stopped doing that a long time ago. I even got bored with running for a year or so because I didn’t see much point save for minimising the size of my belly. Over the past year, I’ve rekindled my love of it by treating it differently. I’ve started enjoying running and races just because I like it, not because I have some insatiable desire to test myself or beat a past victory. As long as I get a time that I’m happy with, then I’m good.

Last week I defied logic by getting my first 10k PB in over 6 years. 6 years! And I wasn’t even trying to. I took part in the RunThrough Queen Elizabeth Park 10k, one of my favourite races, largely because it’s near my flat, but also because it’s a great course. I’ve run the race seven times in the past 12 months and I generally get an average of about 44 minutes. The fastest I’ve done is 42.25 a few months ago, and even that surprised me. Last week I got 40 minutes 36. Yep, pretty big drop.

Rewind six years to my last 10k PB. It was the British 10k in London. I’d been on a diet for a few months, I was running loads and I was avoiding drinking. I ran that race like a moan possessed, angrily desperate to get a good time. It looked like this, and it wasn’t pretty:

I got a 41.20. Which was over a minute faster than anything else I’ve ever done before or after, except for a one-off race where I ended up with 41.59 – but I think that course was shorter than it was meant to be. I was pretty pleased with that in fact. At the time I was massively unsure about my running abilities and my times generally floated around the 45 minute mark. A 41.20 twenty for me was a phenomenal achievement.

Anyway, back to Wednesday’s race. As I said, I’ve done the course a few times and never harboured any dreams of getting a fast time in it. I just like it because it’s enjoyable and convenient. The only thing different about this particular day is that I was testing out the Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbos, a shoe that’s actually meant to make you faster. Now, I’m not going to talk about them here, I’ll save that for the review. But whether it was the shoe, or the fact that mentally I felt like I should push myself harder to test them properly, to knock over two minutes off my time was madness.

In the second kilometer, I knew I was running fast. I looked at my watched and realised that if I maintained the pace I would be on for a fast time, but I was doubtful whether I could. I often have early race pipe dreams when the adrenaline is running through the body. For the rest of the race I fluctuated a fair bit, to the point where I actually had no idea how I was doing, definitely didn’t feel I was going particularly faster than usual. Here’s the Strava activity if you’re actually interested.

Let me just be clear, I’m not writing my post to brag. Trust me. The point of this post is that for the first time in ages, my mindset has changed about running again. For the last couple of years I’ve just assumed that my lifestyle and my frame of mind would mean that running was something I did for fun; my choice of cardio activity to keep me fit, healthy and burn off some of the unnecessary calories I tend to consume. I was looking at distance a my new challenge, not speed at the shorter races. But now. Well. Now I know I can run faster than I’ve ever been able to. I wasn’t even going at full capacity on Wednesday.

I once desperately wanted to get a sub 40-minute 10k. That faded a while ago as the number of races mounted up but the minutes tended to stay the same. Now all I need to do is shave off half a minute and I’ve done it.

Who knows, maybe it was a fluke, maybe it was the trainers or maybe I just had way to much sugar that date. Either way though, I’m suddenly not just running for fun any more. Now I have an aim to get to, and it’s both exciting, and a bit stressful. Maybe I’ll try for some more PBs. I’ve got the Great North Run coming up in a few weeks and the Valencia Marathon in December. Could this be my own year of beating all of them? I never missed that bit at the start of the race where you’re nervous. I haven’t felt that in years, save for the odd one mile race, can’t say I’m looking forward to that again.