7 Steps to Beating Your PB
Once you’ve built up a solid foundation of miles, you’ll probably look to dial it up a notch to improve your finish times. Those hundreds, maybe thousands of miles you’ve put in over the past couple of years can be used to achieve faster finish time goals. Think long term, enjoy your racing and training, stay motivated, stay hungry, and beat your Personal Best. Find that inner drive that will unleash the best possible version of yourself. Here are 7 efficient steps to beating your PB.
Pick the right race
Nine different World Records (WRs) have been set at the BMW Berlin Marathon. We all know that races have the same standard distance, but they are certainly not equal in terms of average finish time. Find a ‘flat’ course with only a couple of hills to climb and maybe some downhill sections for a short boost of speed. Picking the right race can be the trigger you need to beat your PB.
It’s not cheating, it’s just smart!
Do hill training
Change your training routes to incorporate more hills. Stairs will do too. A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that short bouts of stair-climbing 5 days a week for 8 weeks enhanced VO2 max by 17% among young women. Running up hills is great for improving race pace, as demonstrated by a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Scientists focused on three major measures of running performance for the study: VO2 Max, blood lactate level, and running economy (how much oxygen is required at a given running pace).
That PB won’t be achieved easily. Do hill training.
I strongly believe that the secret to breaking personal records is to improve over time – just like a fine wine. Don’t rush. Build up your miles, strategies and experience throughout your running career. While it’s true that consistent effort and different tricks can help you do your best, nothing will happen overnight. We mortal runners are hard on ourselves when we don’t improve our pace, but that doesn’t mean our running hasn’t improved. Learn how to race at your best, focus your improvement strategy and on overall performance rather than finish time alone.
Allow yourself time to evolve.
Do your speedwork
Intervals build both muscular endurance and speed, so incorporate it into your running schedule. Include short bouts of 400 meters at the particular PB pace you’re aiming for. One big advantage will be an increased VO2 Max – your body’s capacity to get more oxygen for working muscles.
Check your posture
Need convincing on the importance of posture? Just skip a race and watch the people running from the side. You’ll notice that runners who finish at front invariably have far better posture than those further back. Usually, the front pack has: relaxed shoulders, still trunks, their hips forward, and a perfect upright posture. Their arms will gently move in a linear director, rather than outward, and their running shoes will land under their centre of gravity.
This is (I believe) critical for success.
Read more about Understanding Foot Strike Patterns >
Work your way up to ‘race pace’
It’s quite easy to get used to running at a certain pace during training, but this is not enough to beat a PB. Work your way up by running at close to your maximum exertion level for increasing periods of time. This is not interval training. If your goal is to finish a half-marathon in less than 1:40, gradually increase your pace AND distance.
This is quite a tricky thing to do and it calls for hard work.
Learn how to instinctively gauge your speed
Your ultimate goal is to beat your PB. It can be a 5k, a 21k, or a full marathon. You can train hard for a certain race, but you’ll be taken aback at the pace at which seasoned runners go. Break the race down into manageable sections. Learn how your body reacts at different speeds, monitor your pace at different intensity levels, and work on learning how to train by your body rather than your watch.
Don’t train by pace or a number. Listen to your body.
Setting a PB starts with running relaxed. Note that the stress of over-thinking and constantly focusing on faster running times can slow you down. You’ve trained a lot. Just focus on being as relaxed as possible and remind yourself that nothing terrible will happen if you don’t manage to beat your PB.
When you get tight, you use more energy and put your body under unnecessary stress. Relieve all of that tension and remember to just enjoy your run.
Focus on proper nutrition, get a good night’s sleep and you’re all set.