Sunday, 9 December 2012

Factors influencing the possibility of a PB

It goes without saying that there are a whole host of factors that govern whether or not a PB is possible and then whether or not you achieve it. Some of those factors can be controlled, others cannot. So let's break those down, put the uncontrollable factors aside and work out what I can do about the factors I can control.

Factors I can't control:
The weather:
It could be windy, icy, raining or wet underfoot, or even snowing. Any of these conditions could make a PB less likely or even impossible. These factors can't be controlled and these are really "on the day" factors to help set realistic expectations. If the cponditions aren't right I'll be able to go easy on myself regarding the PB. If the weather isn't right, I won't worry about a PB.
The course:
The course is the course, and there is not much I can do about that.
At parkrun I know the course like the back of my hand, so that isn't a problem. Other courses I don't know as well. I could check out the course in advance, but that doesn't change it. Some courses will be PB courses others will not. My first 10km race target for next year is a course that I know reasonably well having run it the last two years, and as it is the course of my current 10km PB it is certainly a possible PB course.

So those are some factors that I can't control. There is no point in focusing on those as there is very little or nothing I can do about them.

Factors I can control:
The factors that I can control are far more important as these will be used to focus my preparation in training over the coming months.
This is very important to me, particularly as I am not very supple at the moment. Years of football related injuries have left me only very slightly more bendy than a telegraph pole. A big focus for the coming months is to find a regular routine to improve my suppleness.
With my history of muscle injuries and the amount of training time lost to them, this is another big focus for me. I need to prevent new injuries and any recurrence of old injuries, particularly my calf injury that has been on and off for nearly two years now. If I can avoid injuries and keep training, improvements are almost bound to come.
This is probably the given that we all know. I need to do the right training to ensure that my fitness levels are excellent. I have always been pretty fit, but as the years pass by, this needs to be spot on to make sure I have those PB chances.
I need to plan ahead to make sure I progress in the right way over the coming months. I need to work out when I need to be at the right fitness, weight, speed, etc and probably get a few fast runs in in the last few weeks prior to my PB target races. Just so that I know I am ready to go for the PBs.
I need to have prepared such that I know the PB is possible and likely for extra positive mental motivation. If I have prepared in the right way, getting the PB should just be the final piece of the puzzle.
I need to become in tune and comfortable with the right pacing or a pacing strategy that will work for me. The more often I train at that pace, even if only during interval training, the happier I will be in knowing that I can run the pace required for a PB.
Mental attitude:
I need to turn up with the right attitude necesary for a PB on the day. If all other preparation has been done, I need to make sure that I know that I am in good shape. The best way for me to ensure this is to have had some good hard runs with decent times before my PB target runs.
Pain acceptance and coping strategies:
I need to find a way to cope with the pain of being near my pace limit. Most times when I am running well and running on target for good times, it is the pain and the extreme hard breathing that causes me to slow. It is not that I can't manage to keep going, it is that I choose to make it easier for myself, rather than stay near to my limit. I need to find a way to cope with being near to my limit for longer so that I don't even think about slowing.
I have put on 5 lbs in the last 3 months. I don't want to become fixated on weight, but I do know that weight is a big factor. My fastest times have almost all come at my lowest weights. I should probably plot this and investigate to see how clear this weight/time relationship is.
I have decent running kit, but I should use my best kit for PB target races. I will certainly need new traimners in advance of PB attempts in the spring, and lightweight shorts would probably help too.
I must still include rest days in my training. At present I have too many, but rest is important for injury prevention and recovery. Pre-race rest days are also vital in the final run up to a PB attempt. I don't want to feel like I have any aches and pains at all.
My diet is pretty good anyway, but there are certain things I need to curb a bit. Less late evening snacks would be a good start too. Two of the main vices that I can't give up are Cheese and Chocolate. I'll just have to be sensible with how much I have and when I have it. i.e. a plate of cheese just before bedtime should be avoided. At Christmas it is a given that I will have plenty, after that I'll try to be a bit more sensible.
Alcohol consumption:
This must be lowered, but I still need to have fun and I am not prepared to give up alcohol for running. I am not a professional after all! But I have to be sensible. Drinking the day before a race has been out for a few years, but I probably need to extend this to a few days and also the day before hard training sessions. The worst thing for me regarding alcohol is that even just a glass of wine in the evening makes me crave cheese and biscuits. Two bad ideas for the prices of one!
I must be fuelled with the right level of energy before the races. Everything else could be right, but if I ran out of energy half way round a race, that would be very frustrating.
Pre-race fuel:
The fuel I take on in the last 24 hours or so should help and not hinder my chances of a PB. I must work out what works for me.


  1. Great piece, again. You mentioned rest but not sleep. A good nights sleep is very important, more so the last few days before an important race.Remember, an hour before midnight is worth two after midnight.

  2. Great piece, again. You mentioned rest but not sleep. A good nights sleep is very important, more so the last few days before an important race.Remember, an hour before midnight is worth two after midnight.

    1. A very good point Stan. Sleep is very important.

  3. This article provides an excellent checklist to help achieve my PB goals in 2013. This year I've essentially focussed on just two:

    Weight - reducing my weight to a run friendly 22.2 BMI primarily by running, not dieting.

    Technique - I've completed a really useful course at the Running School at East Dulwich - - and this has helped me run more efficiently and, I believe, reduced my likelihood of injury although this will be confirmed in the longer term.

    Of your factors I know I need to have particular focus on:

    Diet - The quality of my food needs to improve; less fats and sugars, more vegetables and lean protein.

    Rest - Specifically sleep as Stan mentions. Too often I turn up on race day trained to run well, but not well enough rested to run at my peak. I have poor sleep habits that I need to break!

    1. Yes, I really hadn't thought about technique when writing this. But yes, that too is something I want to focus on. I really want to teach myself to take shorter quicker paces to reduce the load of impact and hopefully reduce the strain on my hamstrings. All good things to help prevent injury. Very good point, thanks for raising it.


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