A friend of mine recently ran a 50K as a training run. Although he ran the entire race solely based on heart rate, didn’t taper for the run and the fact that it was a night time trail race, he still ended up setting a PR by 6 minutes (6:01:58). Despite this great accomplishment, he still felt like he left a lot out on the course and believes there is still a lot of room for improvement. This got me thinking about the state of ultrarunning and running in general in terms of perceptions of personal achievement and how we choose to benchmark ourselves.
Granted, there are some individuals out there who would be thrilled with a shiny new PR and not give a second thought to what they could have done differently/immediately set a new goal at a higher standard and faster pace. If asked I would argue that those individuals make up the minority of competitors in the sport of running; road, track, trail and ultra alike. For the majority of our sport, even when we achieve personal greatness, we know that there is still room for improvement. We are forever chasing our absolute best, whether or not we are able to achieve it is a whole new topic.
On top of attempting to best our own running accomplishments, the same rings true about our “competition.” For most of us, it’s often never good enough to set that PR, we are always looking to break records, win our age group, or finish in the top percentiles of races. This gives even the most accomplished athletes something to chase. Whether it be Rob Krar and Timothy Olson pursuing new course records at the toughest 100 Mile races or a slew of runners aiming at a new world record in the marathon.
It may not be in the forefront of our minds all of the time, but deep down I believe we’re always striving to hit new standards, times, and accomplishments. That leaves the question: Can one ever be truly satisfied with their performance, no matter how great?
What are your thoughts on the topic?
What was your last race? When you finished were you completely satisfied or have you already started thinking about the next race where you’ll aim to improve your time/performance?
Please leave your comments below. Thanks for reading!