The Connection Runners + [running]

How to Set a PR

Back in May, I posted a very special blog all about how not to set a PR. Today, I'm happy to be posting all about how to set a PR! Reader beware: the advice that follows is completely ridiculous, utterly outlandish, but surprisingly true.

My brown-and-gold alma mater, Western Michigan University, holds a 5k Campus Classic race every year during Homecoming weekend. A group of us decided to partake in the run yesterday, a somewhat last-minute decision that would kick off our weekend of tailgating and bar hopping.

I had no real goals for what would be my fifth 5k of the season, other than to finish the thing in time for a hot shower and a cold beer in a back parking lot near the ROTC building. We all spent the night before at Shakespeare's, where hot greasy popcorn combined with a few pints of Sam Adams made for a good night, but not so much a good pre-race meal.
PR Setting Tip #1: Roll into town late, meet up with good friends, and eat massive amounts of popcorn washed down by thick, high-alcohol content beer.

The hubs and I hit the sack at 1:30 a.m. and awoke at 6:30 the following morning so that he and two other friends could paint "WMU" on their chests for the race, much to the amusement of fellow racegoers, their children, and the elderly spectators. Race day temps were at about 50 degrees, but it felt more like 35 with the chilly breeze.
PR Setting Tip #2: Five hours of pre-race sleep is all you need. And be sure to wear skimpy, high-cut purple race shorts that offer little to no protection from the elements.

In our morning haste, I left my purse, which contained my precious iPod and racewatch, at our friends place. I remained calm freaked the hell out, tore through the car, and swore several times under my breath in the presence of small innocent children. I had no time to go back though, so I forged ahead without. Besides, it was only three miles - I knew I could make it. I just felt so inept without my trusty technology.
PR Setting Tip #3: Leave the time and the sounds at home. Who knew that the grunting and heavy breathing of others would be enough to distract me from not glancing down at my absent watch every 30 seconds?

We took off with the sea of 1300 other runners, starting with a short sprint up a hill. The course wound through campus, alternating between strips of congested but flat sidewalks to steep inclines that eventually gave way to magnificent, speedy downhills. Running through campus was amazing. I recalled all of the times I walked through snowstorms to classes and sat on the grassy areas between boring lectures. I even managed a cheer as I passed Sangren Hall (my old stomping grounds where most of the ed classes where held) because it's finally getting a much needed facelift.
PR Setting Tip #4: Run in a place that's so familiar yet feels completely brand new. Contemplating changes can make for a speedy pace.

I, of course, had no clue what my time was, so as I turned the final corner to the finish line in front of the Bernhard Center, I sprinted toward the timing mat and managed to completely ignore the race clock to the right. Kevin was waiting with the "W" and the "U" and as I met them, we exchanged sweaty high fives and laughed about attention they garnered with their half-naked running exploit. It wasn't until we returned to our friends' place, where I jumped on the computer, that I finally checked my finish time: 26:15! I beat my previous PR by 24 seconds.
PR Setting Tip #5: Set no goals, pay no attention to pace, overall time, or technology, get little sleep and you'll have yourself a PR.

Sometimes the best races are the ones that we don't plan for. Spontaneity may truly be the best motivator out there.