Couch to 5K
53,138 members85,220 posts

Complete Versus Compete

Sometimes I like to just get out the door and enjoy my run, other times I mull on my times and want to beat them. I have had two runs this week which demonstrated this and I wanted to share them.

As a bit of context I am currently running a Bridge 2 10k, a 5k, a speed 2.4km run and 3 x core body workout each week. (I am not fit yet but am slowly cutting out the chubby bits). I am also going the month of June without Caffeine in sympathy to wifey going without lots during her pregnancy.

On Tuesday, I decided to try and not just beat my 5k time (about 32 minutes or so) but beat the 30 minute mark. Of course that is a pretty silly jump up in speed with the benefit of hindsight. I set off and stormed away with my app running to tell me my km times. I completed the first km in 5 minutes 50 seconds, which was pretty quick and almost spot on for finishing a few seconds under 30 minutes. I struggled up the hill which normally slows me down quite a bit and stormed towards the 2k mark. I hit the 2k mark and my app told me I was at almost 13 minutes so I had slowed down loads. I got disappointed, frustrated and a minute or 2 later stopped and walked in a mood with myself. Had I really thought about it I would have realised that the second km is the worst with the big hill so the next 3 would have been better and I would have been marginally over 30 minutes, a new personal best (PB). Instead I just wandered home dispirited.

Today I went to do my speed run in my short time slot. It was pretty hot and I was just thinking about getting home, showered, cooled off and having some lunch. I do the short run at the local track as it is just 6 laps. I always runs this one a bit quicker as it is so much shorter. The first time took nearly 15 minutes and now I am down to just under 14 mins. I am aiming for 13:18 which is my age group goal to meet the Royal Navy entry requirement, just because it is a nice goal. I sped off and as I wandered round the 3rd lap the 1km reminder said I was due to finish the run in 13:08. I knew I couldn't keep the speed up all the way but I had an outside chance at least. I gasped my way round the next laps and crossing the 5th my app told me I was looking at 13:38 so I had slowed quite a bit. I stumbled up a notch and panting and gasping worse than I do at the end of a 5k, I thundered(ish) the last lap. I stumbled over the line to 13:28, exactly 10 seconds outside my goal.

The two runs taught me that rather than go out to beat my personal best everytime, I should just go out and aim to complete my run. If my run turns out to be nice and I have the energy, I can then try to best my PBs. I also think I have forgotten than a couple of seconds less is a big victory, a minute less is pretty incredible. I still enjoy running but would love to one day have a 5k run when at no point do I have the urge to stop that I need to overcome.

2 Replies

I totally agree.. Wise words. I'm just as bad and it doesn't help that my 11 year old consistently beats his PB and leaves me behind in a cloud of dust. I've learnt the hard way to stay at my pace, and he just runs back for me every now and then! Good luck with the training :)


It's so tempting to try and beat your own PBs that I bet you forget your wise words in a week or so! We forget the pain so quickly! ;-)

I tried to beat my own 5k PB yesterday; feeling good that I had done a 10k at the weekend and thinking that maybe now I was a bit stronger and could be quicker. Well, I did, but only just - a measly 10 seconds brought it down to 29:24, and I was disappointed. It tends to go well for the first 3k and then I just slow down. I now run 5k every other day at my normal pace of about 31 minutes, but find it hard to go much quicker.

My take on it is that we're still quite early in the process. I've only been running for about 12 weeks so that's probably no real time to build strength. Stamina has improved but my running legs are a work in progress - and what I notice is that my speed depends so much on my stride length. With the various podcasts, Laura and Audiofuel, I can keep the running rhythm going but my stride length decreases as I get tired so obviously the speed drops off a lot too. Hopefully as leg strength improves the stride length and speed will too.

In the meantime back to a mix on intervals and longer runs (and maybe a sneaky try at a different PB next week ;-) )

Good luck with your caffeine-free month. Don't think I could do that...


You may also like...