Don't Tell Me Your PR. Tell Me Your 3B. (PodiumRunner)


I published my first non-book excerpt article at PodiumRunner: Don't Tell Me Your Personal Record. Tell Me Your Third Best Time.

Here's a small excerpt from the section Thinking "Beyond the PR". Read the full article to learn why your 3B (3rd Best time) tells us more about your ability than your PR.

My good friend Scott Abbott, former distance coach at Sacramento State who now heads up the Sacramento Running Association, learned to be skeptical of an athlete’s PR early on. He saw that runners who got into Arcadia [Invitational] tended to have great PRs, but those PRs didn’t correlate with success at the end of the year or into an athlete’s college career.

As a college coach with no scholarships, he had to figure out who was a good bet to be both recruitable and likely to succeed. Many coaches saw a fast PR and misjudged a runner’s “real value.” Especially when it came from a meet like Arcadia, or a pancake-flat road course with perfect conditions.

As a coach, he was less interested in what you’ve done than in what you will do.

Looking at a PR tells us what you can do in the best possible circumstances —under the magical fairy dust of Arcadia, the windless perfection of the Stanford Invitational, or the gusty tailwinds of the 2011 Boston Marathon, for example. It’s not that your time isn’t legit — you certainly earned it — it’s that it doesn’t indicate what your next good race is likely to be.

And here's one more thought about why thinking about third best times helps how we think generally.

More importantly, a subtle shift happens when you start thinking about third best times. You stop focusing on the best case scenario and start focusing on the likely scenario. And that is just a better way to think and prepare in general. It saves you from getting stuck, never measuring up to a mark you only achieved once but now defines the runner you “should” be. It allows you to more accurately analyze your training and race paces.

I hope you'll check it out. And please tell me what you think about this approach in the comments!