Friday Five – Five ways to measure your running success

1 Jan

Alice the pug ©Julia McGovern

Many of us measure our running success with numbers – most often, our personal bests. Improving your time over a measured distance is the easiest way of recognising success, but it’s not easy to get a PB and it can be demotivating when you keep training and trying, but that PB eludes you. However, it’s not to only way to measure your running success. Here are five alternative ways of feeling good about your running…

  • Running by feel
    Mentally take note of how you feel whilst out running and compare it with how you felt last month or last year. Maybe you can run further than before without needing a walking break, or perhaps you are able to complete a longer run without feeling tired. You can also try to mix it up a little by trying out some new terrain – leaving the Garmin at home and challenging yourself to a trail run can leave you feeling invigorated. Keeping a training log that records how you felt after each run can help you to see your progress… and can help you to guard against over training by making you aware of when you are fatigued.
  • Number of events completed
    Instead of worrying about your race times, consider focusing on the number of events you complete each year. You can also work on collecting the three Ms, if that’s your kind of thing: miles, memories and medals. Maybe sign up for one event each month. It can also be fun to try something completely different, such as an adventure race, multisport event (duathlon, aquathlon, triathlon or swicle/aquabike) or an endurance race based on time not distance. If you live near to a parkrun, then you could aim for your next milestone, whether that’s 50, 100, 250 or 500.
  • Completing a running streak
    Perhaps you should try a running streak, where you run every day for a period of time, regardless of the weather. Your runs can be as long (or as short) as you like, as long as they are at least 1 mile. This can have some disadvantages, as you may be ill at some stage or have other commitments that make it difficult, but you can set your own rules about what you can achieve – maybe a 30 days streak is all it will take to get your mojo back. An alternative, is to aim to complete a certain mileage by the end of each month or by the end of the year.
  • Consider your time logged/years running
    Look back on your running history. For how many years have you been a runner? There may be times when I feel like I’m not achieving anything, but I started doing parkrun in 2010 , so I’ve been able to call myself a runner for over 5 years. I’ve had short periods of time when injury has got the better of me, but I’ve always returned to running.
  • Find out your age grading
    This is one of the most magical of stats for me. Each birthday does not need to be treated with gloom as for runners it’s a chance to receive a better age grading without doing anything different. parkrun tells each runner their age grading, but if you don’t do parkrun, you can calculate it for yourself. This way, even if you are not beating old PBs, you may still see progress as your age grading for specific distance may have improved.

How do you measure your running success? Do you even feel the need to measure it or are you happy to run for the sake of running? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

3 Responses to “Friday Five – Five ways to measure your running success”

  1. unironedman 02/01/2016 at 11:27 am #

    Nice piece, and full of good advice. Nothing better than leaving all the gizmos at home and just getting out there for a run. Tried the ‘mile a day’ for December, and I felt it showed up in the last run of the year, which was a half marathon. Was able to up the pace at the end, and I put that down to the consistent training (albeit a very loose kind of programme!). And age (and gender) grading is also a useful tool for plucking out the real result of any race. Sure, you came 89th. But in your gender and age category, in reality you came 2nd. That always sounds better! But yes, you are right; we can flog ourselves too much with the PB stuff. Guilty as charged, your honour…

    • tamsynsmith 02/01/2016 at 1:20 pm #

      Thank you. A lot of my friends did running streaks in December and found that in a month that is often associated with excess it helped them to stay on top of things (I spent December hiding under my duvet as I needed a break!) It’s great that it helped you to do well in your half.

      I did parkrun today with several friends, two of whom ‘won’ their age groups. I knew I hadn’t run well (2:20 slower than my my PB) and I was only 6th in my AG, but then I realised that I had ‘beaten’ 27 others (who may not have been racing as it was parkrun).

      One measuer of success for me in 2016 will be to race fewer events – sure, I’ll still be doing them, but several will be at very controlled paces!

      • unironedman 03/01/2016 at 2:25 pm #

        I love parkrun too. Great gauge of where you’re at. Best of luck for the new year,

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