What a PR or Personal Record Means

And How to Train for One

Marathon runners ready, preparing smart watches at starting line on urban street
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Once you've run your first road race and get your finishing time, you have a PR, or a "Personal Record." It refers to your best time in a race of a specific distance. So, if you run a 5K race in 28:45, that's your PR for the 5K distance. If you run faster than 28:45 in a subsequent 5K race, then you have a new PR for that distance. So you'll have PRs for different race distances, from 1-milers to marathons. Some runners will even keep track of indoor track vs. outdoor track PRs, as well as PRs for specific road races since some race courses are obviously more challenging than others.

You may also hear some runners call their best race times "PBs" or "Personal Bests." Whatever they call it, experienced runners love to talk about their PRs because it helps them stay motivated to keep training and racing. It's also fun to keep track of your PRs in your training log, so you can refer back to them and record a new one when you achieve it.

How to Run a Personal Record

After you've run a few races, you may find that it becomes more difficult to run a PR. So you'll need to take your training to the next level. If you've been following beginner training schedules, step it up to an intermediate level schedule. (Be sure to make sure you meet the training base level before you start the training.)

If you haven't incorporated speed work into your training yet, it's time to get started. Follow these rules for speed training and then choose a speed workout to do at least once a week. And get more tips for how to run faster. If you're trying to PR in the marathon, try these tips for running a faster marathon.

Another way to shave seconds or maybe even minutes off your race times is to practice smart racing strategies. For example, make sure you don't overhydrate before the race so you can avoid losing time by stopping at porta-potties during the race.

Pick the Right Race

Choosing the right race can be a big factor in achieving a new PR. Many runners like to seek out fast courses for different distances. Some marathons, for instance, are known for being flat and fast. You're most likely not going to run your best time on a hilly course.

Runners also try to plan races during ideal racing conditions, which would be dry and cool weather. Running a race in the middle of summer is most likely not going to get you a PR. If you're hoping to PR in a specific race, do some research and find out what the typical weather is before you commit to it.

You'll also want to pick a target race that works for your schedule and preferences. If you have more time to train in the summer and you prefer training in the heat, then you may want to choose a Fall race as your goal race.

In your quest to reach new PRs, just make sure that you don't go race crazy and start racing every weekend. Too much racing may lead to slower race times, overuse injuries, or burnout.

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