I knew it was coming. Running a new PR at every race is an unsustainable way to run because eventually the race day conditions will be less than ideal, the training will be insufficient, injuries will interfere, or any other of a multitude of reasons. The specific race doesn’t matter. The excuses don’t matter. Regardless of the conditions, it was bound to happen that I would not meet my time goals at a race, and it will certainly happen again in the future.
I love running PRs. I love knowing that I can continually improve my performance and surpass my own expectations. Missing my time goals feels frustrating and disappointing because I know I can do better. But that is the problem. It is entirely unrealistic to judge myself by the expectation that each race will be faster, stronger, and better than the last. Constantly comparing myself to the best version of myself leaves no room for flexibility or forgiveness. My approach to racing right now is that either I am better than I was before or I’m not. This mindset means that I have to be perfect all the time, and I sure try hard at that, but sometimes I just fall a little bit short. Or three whole minutes short.
Reality is trying to show me that I can’t always have a perfect race, which is hard for me to wrap my head around. Accepting a non-PR means I have to accept “good enough” instead of “good,” and none of that lines up when I only expect the best. However, racing kinda sucks when I don’t meet those standards. Actually, I feel a bit defeated by running in general when I don’t meet those standards. That feels much worse.
If I am going to continue to do what I love and love what I do, I need to change my thinking about running, racing, and time goals. I haven’t quite figured out what that means yet, but I know that it is more important to me to continue running, and find satisfaction in running, than to constantly improve my PRs. I’ll keep you updated.