Why I’d like you to ask me about my PBs*

The Internet is great, partly because of videos like this and partly because it encourages discussion and opinions.

I read a blog earlier about how runners should stop caring about PBs, and embrace running for running’s sake more. How, unless we were training for the Olympics, times were somewhat immaterial. I take no issue with people running for pure enjoyment – I think that’s wonderful, brilliant, super and to be encouraged every single day. Don’t get me wrong, I love to run for fun: I love to run with my friends, I love to runch and I love to take in the sights of new cities with my trainers, but I take real issue with poo-pooing running for PBs.

I’ve always been very competitive, very goal orientated and would really rather win at pretty much everything I do. These were pretty destructive traits growing up, as I got incredibly upset when I wasn’t the best in the class and very jealous of my friends who were better than me at anything. I’m over that now (just about…!) and accepted long ago that actually it wasn’t possible to be the best at all the things… ever. But it’s been channelled – positively! – into wanting to be the very best that *I* can be.
No, my PBs aren’t incredibly fast and no, I’m in no danger of ever competing at the Olympics, but they mean an awful lot to me. To me, they represent lots of hard work. My marathon PB represents 18 weeks of pushing myself harder than I thought I ever could, and really gritting my teeth on the day. I earned it, in the same way that people earn a promotion or whatever at work. And that’s another thing: I’m young, and my “career” hasn’t quite sorted itself out yet. Trying as hard as I can with running and triathlon is my way of channelling my inner drive to do well whilst I haven’t quite yet got the opportunity to at work. I’m sure that once my career takes off, running will become less important; less of an outlet of my competitiveness.

Running for me is, and always will be a hobby, and I’ll always run for fun. But my fun comes mostly from doing as well as I possibly can, and I’m not sorry for that.

*I like PBs of the crunchy and smooth variety. Other nut butters are available, and are equally, if not more, delicious.


5 thoughts on “Why I’d like you to ask me about my PBs*

  1. Thank you for this Cathy. So refreshing to read. I think I also have the traits you described. I was a decent track runner as a teen and my competitive instinct was a perfect match to my sport. Fast forward to 35 years of age and my ability to be competitive has obviously ebbed somewhat but that doesn’t mean I’m any less competitive with myself and what’s wrong with wanting to be a better version of yourself?
    I know that some people are irked by being asked about times and PB’s and I think over time I have learnt how to spot people who do like a discussion about times and those who don’t. But there is nothing wrong at all with caring about your own achievements and if it’s what motivates you and keeps you interested then I really can’t see the problem with it. I try to tell my self it’s not always about times but you know what? That’s just not me and I’d be supressing a natural part of my personality. Surely doing that and pretending to be something I’m not would be far worse? And don’t we keep telling young women and girls to be themselves? Go for the times Cathy if that is what makes you glow and grin ear to ear!

  2. I have a page on my blog just for my PBs, so I think you know my stance on this issue! Like you, I’m proud of them. I’ve worked my arse off for those PBs. And I’ll keep working hard to beat them. I don’t take myself too seriously and I’m very happy to enter some races just to use them as training runs (or because you get a nice t-shirt!). But I’ll always be striving to improve. Just because running is a hobby to me doesn’t mean I shouldn’t want to improve. That famous Roald Dahl quote really sums it up for me……

    “I began to realise how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good, either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.”

  3. I’m the same. I’m very competitive with myself and always want a PB! Just makes me feel so happy if I get it!

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