Do running personal records expire?

Back in the day when I started running, every race was an automatic a PR.  I didn’t care about pace, my only goal was to finish.  I remember running a 6 mile race for the first time and thinking even if I have to crawl to the finish line, I will get there.

No one was more surprised than me when I not only finished, but I didn’t stop once.  #simplethings


Ford Models, I’m for hire.

Over the next year I participated in several races, feeling stronger + more confident each time, hitting new PR’s in both distance + time and even placing in my age group.  {Love me some small town races!}

Celebrating each one and dreaming of the next accomplishment I always knew I could pull off, but never thought I’d actually DO it.

I ran and ran and ran Jenn-ay.


Until I got injured.  Since then, I trained + ran a couple more races but honestly I feel like I lost that feeling of “newness” in the sport.  Dang now I sound like I’m talking about love or something.

Sure, I still LOVE running and have big dreams of a shiny new half marathon PR, <- can’t believe my fingers just typed that!  But for me, I feel like the first few years of running were the best.

I can imagine hitting a new PR after years of running is extra sweet because of the extra work + sweat it takes to make it happen!

I’m not saying setting new PR’s is going to make or break our love for the sport.  Though coming home with a shiny new PR does help!  There are other life factors to consider like aging, having kids, sickness, the list goes on.

So all of this leaves me wondering how we as runners, measure our success based on our current abilities and if PR’s {personal records} have a shelf life?

Do you go by age bracket, all time PR’s, both or don’t care?

Long time runner friends, how do you stay motivated after the newness wears off?


16 Comments on “Do running personal records expire?

  1. I can’t tell you enough how much I LOVE the first photo. So perfect. Sheer excitement. LOVE IT.
    I don’t think PR’s have a shelf life. You might come to realize you will never beat that time but to me that is YOUR personal record. And that is OK if you don’t beat that time. But one that one day at that one race that was your best. For me signing up for a race helps me stay motivated. I know I need to get my butt out there if I have something coming up. I don’t have to PR every race but I sure do need to finish!!!!!

  2. Love that first picture, pure awesome emotion. I don’t think PR’s expire but I do think we can categorize our running into years. I.e. moms out there might say pre-baby PR’s, or Post Baby PRs. Or pre-injury PR, post injury PR.

    After running for a few years, I think continuing to try new race distances and new things helps me. I also like always having at least one or 2 races in mind at all times… helps me stay motivated to train.

  3. Well, this fall will be 30 years since I started running and I have run most of that time (had to take off a little with both pregnancies and some stress fractures set me back a bit) and I still love it. I don’t race a lot (hardly ever) anymore and I’m OK with just running on my own (mostly on the treadmill). I do it because I love the way it makes me feel and being fit keeps me motivated!

  4. Competition is what gets me going. So I do go for my PR but not only that but how I do against the competition 🙂

  5. I don’t place a lot of emphasis on my PRs. I always try to be better than I was, but so many things can affect my time that don’t always relate to my current fitness….like how well I slept the night before , my hydration status, or even my mindset that day. So, while I do take note of my times and try to push myself each time I run, I realize the end goal is ultimately to stay active and enjoy running.

  6. I still strive for PR’s but since my injury I have had to “start over” in a lot of ways. Now I judge my success on what my body is able to do, every day it is different! I still work towards my dreams and goals but I am taking small steps at a time!

    Love that first picture BTW 🙂

  7. I don’t think they have a shelf life. The longer that PR has been sitting out there, the sweeter it is to break it. I try not to always put my emphasis on a PR though because courses and conditions are going to be different so sometimes it’s comparing apples to oranges! I wouldn’t classify myself as a long time runner, but signing up for a race is what it takes to keep me motivated!

  8. Haha I’m no where close to winning anything. Because of my turtle-like speed, I measure my success based on how I performed during the race. For example, my last race was in the cold (40’s) + rain (most of the race) + wind. Not ideal. No PR, but I considered it successful because I didn’t quit (which I wanted to after mile 1) and I was only ~2 min off of my PR.

  9. I’m going to go against the grain here & say I do think they have a shelf life. Only bc after awhile, your fitness level may change, you’re obviously going to age, & each run adds more miles to that aging body. My 5k PR was nearly 4 years ago at the tail-end of triathlon season; since I don’t do tris anymore, I don’t have the same set of circumstances. Therefore trying to beat that record with a 4 year older body, thousands more miles on these legs, & a different fitness level seems like I’m setting myself up for failure. I think a better way to measure a PR would be year of your life or age group of a race. I still keep chasing that PR for the 5K & even though my brain knows circumstances are different, my race time is GOOD & many would kill for it, coming up short hurts my heart. I’ve been running for 10 years & I struggle with the balance of always striving for my best & hopeful for improvement, but yet facing the reality of an eventual plateau. But I still love running! Even 10 years later!

  10. I love this question! I’ve thought about it before. My PR’s were in high school when I averaged 6 min miles. I could claim those races as PR’s because they are but I’d feel the need to add the disclaimer of how old those numbers are. If I was to be asked, realistically I’d give numbers from races I’ve done in the past 4-5 years. These 30 year old legs are probably never going to go that fast again and I’m perfectly fine with that!

  11. i’ve been running about 5-6 years and the newness never really wore off. I mean sure, i know i can run X distance and i know my PR’s but i think always having some sort of goal in mind (not only time/distance) but maybe being “comfortable” doing a 10 mile run, or trying out new running areas.

    I have an ultimate goal of running a race in every state (doesn’t matter the distance, just a race). I’m still Pr’ing and I hope to continue for a few more years. I hope that when my age groups change I can focus on staying in shape and competitive with people my age. Who knows, maybe distance running with turn into a triathlon or an ironman. Those things keep things fresh and interesting for me. Keeping the unknown and what ifs at the front of my brain keep me running because I never know what kind of people i’ll meet or places i’ll visit because of it. Heck i’d never of read your blog if it wasn’t for running. 🙂

  12. I think PRs are just that… personal. So far, I’ve just tried to beat my best-ever time, but I’m guessing as I get older, I’ll start shooting for “over-X age” PRs instead. I do have a caveat for 10ks, though, because my PR was run on a ridiculously fast, all-downhill course. Now when I do a 10k, I shoot for second-best PRs. And I always like to place in the race (if it’s small) or my age group.

  13. That’s a good question! I’ve only been running for 2 years so I still feel like I’m in the “new” stage. I like the 5K because I feel like I can really push myself every race to get faster. However I’m also enjoying trying new distances I never have before. Right now I’m just trying to continue to improve and if I do I think I’ll be happy! 🙂

  14. I don’t run but I do do cardio – and I am motivated to keep going because it makes me feel AMAZING number one, but also, you have to realize that you’re doing SO MUCH GOOD for your body! You cannot compare yourself to others – and a number should not define you – just run for you and no one else 🙂

  15. I love this question. I have never thought about it before. But I guess for me, I change what my goals are. Try a new distance. Set a PR at a distance I haven’t done for awhile. Do trail running races. Etc. I do think it’s important to change things up to keep the newness alive.

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