for those who love the outdoors

15 February, 2024


Make every run your Personal Best

Runners can get a bit obsessed about achieving their Personal Best but there’s more to a PB than simply stats.


I have spent a lot of time recently while out running thinking about the pressure we often feel as runners to always achieve a Personal Best. It isn’t helped by the fact that once people find out you are a runner, the subject of PBs becomes a regular part of your conversations. No one – not even relative strangers – will beat around the bush about it. They will ask you outright to reveal your vital PB stats. It doesn’t even seem to occur to others that the question might be somewhat personal. But it’s worse if you are a parkrunner, training for an event or a member of a running group because discussions around PBs are literally inescapable. I cannot count the number of times I have been quizzed about my PB while standing at the start line, or even worse, while I was literally running in the middle of an event. It’s not that I am especially secretive about my PBs, but I tend to have other things on my mind during a race.

This is not to say that there is anything wrong with having the goal of getting PBs and trying to improve your running. In fact, many runners find the challenge of it extremely motivating. However, others talk about setting records like it should be the primary aim of any real runner. As if it is the entire point of entering races. And it can be a problem when bagging a PB takes on too much importance and becomes more of the reason why you run. Because when you have targeted a PB and have put a lot of effort and time into training, you cannot help but be disappointed if you miss it. I am no different in experiencing this. Even though I try not to put too much pressure on myself to succeed, not getting that PB somehow still feels disappointing, frustrating and even embarrassing.

At least it did until I was out running the other day and thinking about my last disappointing result in a race. I had trained for months to run in the England Athletics Age Group Masters Marathon Championship at the Chester Marathon last October and I was still reeling from the experience. I was slightly ill on the day of the race and woke up with a temperature, but I was determined to run because I was in prime shape to get a shiny new PB. However, it was an exceptionally hot day and after running a storming 38+ kms, I began to suffer very badly from heatstroke. I was badly dehydrated, dizzy and couldn’t run in a straight line so in truth, I was lucky to have finished at all. But even though as I was quickly carted off to a heaving medical tent where they struggled to get my temperature down and I only missed my PB by 1min, I still was finding it difficult not to be disappointed in myself. Which the tiny rational part of my brain knows is insane.

So while I was out on a run and thinking about this race and wondering why I still beat myself up about it, it suddenly hit me that I had completely misunderstood PBs. I don’t know if I was experiencing another runner’s high or my route had detoured on a sideroad to Damascus, but the absurdity of PBs became crystal clear to me. I realised that it’s absolutely ridiculous for runners to beat themselves up for not achieving a PB when doing your personal best on the day is the very definition of it. After all, what else can you ever do but your Personal Best even if it doesn’t turn out to be your best time? Whoa…As I ran, I think the tectonic plates of my ingrained beliefs actually shifted a little bit.


Because when you think about it, every race you run is different even if you always participate in the same annual events or distances. And the effect of any slight change to your health or the weather on your performance cannot be underestimated. Yet on the day there isn’t much you can do about it. So rather than carrying the weight of achieving a PB on your shoulders in every event you run, it makes far more sense to focus on the things you can control. Which can only be the training and doing everything else possible to be in your best shape in the time leading up to a race. In other words, recognise all of the efforts you have made to get to the start line rather than placing all of the importance on how you finish.

Clearly devoting the time and effort to train for weeks and months should be seen as an achievement in itself. Especially when you resist the temptation to cut corners when things get tough or you struggle to find the time. Not to mention that eating healthily is important to support your training and recovery. But this requires even more commitment during training to really reap the rewards. No matter how your training went once the gun goes off, anything can happen on the day. Why not accept that you are already doing your personal best just by running? If everything falls into place and you run your fastest time, then think of it more as a bonus than being the ultimate goal of the day.

Once you get into this mindset, you will be surprised at how good it feels to take the pressure off of having to always chase a PB. You will also wonder why it took you so long to realise the obvious. Of course, changing your mindset doesn’t necessarily mean that others will follow, because there will always be some runners that thrive on trying to break their own records. But while you leave them to it, there are still some ways to deflect their questions away from always focusing on your PBs.

You can try to dodge questions about your PBs by firing it straight back to them. Chances are that they asked because they also want to share their own stats. Or you can try to steer the conversation more towards how a race went rather than the time that you eventually finished it in. You can also try to disregard the question by being vague, claiming ignorance or by saying that you aren’t aiming for PBs. But if this also fails and you desperately need a means of escape, then you can always use my foolproof method which usually stops the question of what your PB is in its tracks. I simply reply that my PB is definitely crunchy…(although smooth peanut butter also has its merits). This will allow you just enough time to safely extract yourself from the conversation while others try to work out what just happened.

Hopefully, by putting your PBs into perspective, you will be able to enjoy running even more. And since good nutrition is a vital part of the training here is the perfect recipe for a recovery meal, using my favourite PB – PB pasta with coconut prawns.

PB pasta CU1

Suzanne Anderegg


I am originally from Canada but I settled in the UK after studying at university. Sports have always been a part of my life and I have participated and competed in several throughout my childhood. But today I would describe myself as mostly a runner, a mother of 3 grown-ups and a keen cook. As a teenager I was a sprinter and a slightly reluctant cross-country runner but while my children grew up I started to run further and further distances. I never thought that I could ever run anything longer than a half marathon but when my runner husband decided to do a marathon for his 50th in 2019 I found that I had a serious case of FOMO. My children encouraged me to sign up for my first marathon and I ran it just to see if I could finish. Somehow my time was good enough to qualify for the Boston 2020 Marathon. However, due to Covid it was postponed several times.

Like many other runners, I spent much of my time in the Covid lockdown keeping up my fitness by participating in virtual races while waiting for the real events to start up again. As time went on I found myself becoming fully immersed in the world of endurance running and ran the Threshold Trail Series ultra, Race to the Stones. Unfortunately, by the time the Boston Marathon was finally held in late 2021, I could not go because US travel restrictions were still in place. Although I missed my chance to run it and will now have to requalify again at least my time spent keeping in good shape wasn’t wasted. These days I participate in everything from half marathons up to ultras and have also run the Great Glen Way and West Highland Way in the Scottish Highlands.

I also work as a Registered Nutritionist with children and families and founded the consultancy Just add water® in 2019. I write a blog at to give free information and advice about nutrition and running whilst also sharing some of my favourite healthy recipes. The website is mainly aimed at busy families who want to make easy to prepare meals that are both healthy and really tasty, and for active families who want to know what they should be eating before, during and after playing sport.

I have always enjoyed cooking and previously cooked as a profession and I like to share my passion for good food. I have been involved in teaching cookery in schools, children's centres and for the NHS. I also enjoy entering the odd competition to push myself out of my comfort zone. I was awarded Highly Commended at the Teflon™ Diamond Standard Awards 2020 national culinary competition in the category of Keen Home Cook and was a National Finalist in 2022 & 2019. I have also had my recipes published in The Guardian's supplement, Cook; and featured in the 2012 Waitrose LOVE life calendar (July); and selected for inclusion in the 2020 #AnyWhichWayaBix Weetabix recipe book.

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