You don't need to PR every workout
It’s my first full day of being another year older, but it’s still Coach Tip Tuesday!!
Today’s tip is probably one you’ve all heard before in some form or another, but it warrants repeating and discussion since SO many athletes who I encounter are plagued by this. What am I talking about?? PR Syndrome.
“Coach Laura?? PR Syndrome?! But isn’t that a good thing!? Of course we want to PR!!”
Yes, yes of course we all love getting PRs (personal records) when we race, and it’s a really good thing to aspire to become faster as athletes. What I’m talking about is a phenomenon that I’ve seen with athletes where they want to PR every.single.workout.every.time.
Here’s the harsh reality friends: we can’t PR every workout every time. Your training is structured around goal events, and as such, the training workouts that you do are intended to prepare you for those goal events. As you have all heard me talk about before, you can only be in shape for peak performances a few times a year - usually no more than three (we call these ‘A Races’). Now, that doesn’t mean that you can’t participate in more than three races, but it does mean that your goals might need to be adjusted accordingly for the races that are not your goal races (we call these ‘B Races’ and ‘C Races’).
A good training plan is going to properly build and prepare you for your goal events. Among other things, there will be race pace workouts, there will be race-specific skills that are developed, and there will be recovery workouts. Just because you didn’t beat your last 5K time in your Wednesday night workout doesn’t mean that your training isn’t working or that your progress is derailed. It just means that you weren’t set up to perform optimally at that Wednesday night workout. And why would you have been?? You’re being set up to perform optimally at your goal event, not some random midweek workout. So don’t be so hard on yourselves, and don’t set unrealistic expectations or arbitrary ways to measure whether or not you’re being successful. Trust that the training that you’re doing is working and will serve you well on A Race Day. :)
All of this being said, B and C races can be mindfully incorporated into a season plan to serve as “check-ins” to see how training is going enroute to the A Race. As many of you have likely seen when I’ve gone all #proudcoach on you, several of the athletes who I work for have performed extraordinarily at B and C Races this year and have set personal best times. So yes, it’s possible to perform well at those events, but it would not have been the end of the world if they had not set personal best times or performed so well at those events. If anything, a performance that they were unhappy with might have led to some teachable moments or insights into what we might need to tweak in their preparation for their A Races. The same can be said of observed trends over time in training where things are not going 100% as planned. There are so many variables that a good coach will monitor for you...everything from times in workouts, to how you felt, to power outputs, to heart rate data. Success is not necessarily determined by a time on a clock (or a Garmin ;) ) - raise your hand if you’ve heard me say THAT before. :)
So my friends, I urge you not to become plagued by PR Syndrome. It can honestly set you up for disappointment. Adopt a healthy mindset where you focus on the goal cast in stone, and think of the path to get there as being set in sand. Sand allows for movement and adjustment along the way to your goals. As I have told so many of you: trust the process. Things will turn out right in the end. :) And if you want help with how to navigate that path of sand, you know where to find me.