Getting The Most From Personal Bests
by Shaun Brassfield-Thorpe
There is an old rhyme which goes
Good – Better – Best
Never let it rest
Until your Good is Better
And your Better is Best.
This is really a good motto for anyone seriously intending to improve their performance in either training or an event.
But how do you know what is Good, what is Better and what is Best in relation to your own performance?
- First you have to record your performance on a regular basis.
- Then you have to actually understand what your specific performance means.
- And then you can set about meaningfully improving on your current personal best.
Let’s look at this a little more closely.
First, if you are not already doing so, you should get into the habit of recording your training in a training diary and recording your performance in events and competitions (for example in the form of a race report or an equivalent for your sport).
Secondly you should make an easy to read list of your current and all-time PBs. This may sound very simple, but there can be more to the question “Is this a Personal Best?” than you might think. Our article on Understanding Personal Bests may help.
Thirdly you should use your knowledge of your PBs to improve your training – and your event performance.
Using your Personal Bests to build on your successes in training and events
Personal Bests (PBs) should not simply be a static record of your achievements. They should be used to give you a clear target to beat in your training or competition.
First you must establish a Personal Best (PB) for a session/exercise/distance etc. Only count as a PB a time/distance/etc that you have established without suffering any major undue adverse reaction (e.g. if in the process of setting a PB you caused yourself an injury you would not count this!).
Don’t restrict recoding PBs to just one area of training – for example trying to get a better time for 5km on the flat. Instead, record your PBs for virtually all types of training you do (running, weights, cross-training etc) and break this down into PBs for all meaningful variations e.g. speed work; distance; uphill sessions; downhill sessions; running with or without XL; each individual weights exercise – including recording variables such as max weight, reps and sets; duration and speed on an exercise bike – and so on. This might sound quite a lot of paperwork and number-crunching to do but
A) It is not difficult to do
B) It only takes a couple of minutes at a time
and most importantly
C) It can lead to a great deal of improvement
Having established your PBs, try to improve upon your current PB next time you perform the same session. Don’t just have a vague idea of “doing a bit better”, set a concrete goal to achieve such as 1 second faster, 1 kg heavier or 1 minute longer duration.
Know what your current PB is – and thus what you are trying to beat – before every session. This will keep you clearly focused on producing a better performance every time you train.
Keep doing this regularly and your performance will always be improving.