What Does PR Stand for in Running? Discover Its Importance

PR helps you stay motivated and set attainable goals for yourself. Learn what does PR stand for in running and how you can improve yours.

If you’ve taken up running as an exercise and started to mingle with other runners during races, you’ve probably picked up some of the running lingo. You may have heard about some runners’ DNFs, or perhaps you’ve been asked whether you XT. Just before a race, you may have also heard runners chat about their PRs.

PR stands for Personal Record and refers to a runner’s personal best performance. PB, which is the acronym for Personal Best, means the same thing and is used more commonly in Europe. In this article, we explain why PRs are important and provide a few tips on how you can go about improving yours.

When Do Runners Use PRs?

Typically, more experienced runners have different PRs for different-length runs, for instance, a 5K run and a marathon. If the fastest you’ve ever finished a 5K run is 28:40, then this is your PR — until you beat your personal best. Some runners also distinguish between their indoor and outdoor track PRs. In addition, it’s quite typical for seasoned runners to keep track of their PRs for specific road races since these may vary in difficulty.

For instance, the Chicago Marathon consists of a flat and fast course, whereas the Blue Ridge Marathon is deemed one of the most difficult marathons in the U.S. due to the course’s 2,100-foot elevation. Although it’s perfectly fine for you to time and records your runs, for a PR to be considered valid, it should be recorded officially at an organized and timed race.

Why Is A PR Important?

Keeping track of your PR is a great way of motivating yourself to improve your running performance. Even if you’re not a runner who likes to compete in races, it will still be beneficial for you to note and record your PR for specific distances.

Firstly, it’s good for you to take note of your best running time since this serves as a positive reinforcement of your development as a runner up to that point. Secondly, noting your PR can help you determine a baseline that you can use to establish new running goals. Setting goals in order to improve your PR will help you to remain focused and energized.

If you have no idea what your PR or even your usual pace of running is, there are several ways in which to determine this. The first and most obvious way is to simply time yourself on your watch for your next few runs. You can record each running time in a logbook and then note the best time within a specific period, or you can gauge your average time per mile.

Jogging applications that you can load on your smartphone are great tools for runners. MapMyRun, for instance, will help you keep track of your runs in real-time. You can set it to alert you at regular intervals, such as each mile, and it also displays useful details such as distance, speed, and elevation.

You might also be interested in our explainer on how to start free running.

How to Set PR Goals

What are strides in running
It may be helpful to read through some averages to see where you slot in

When you’re setting PR goals, you want to challenge yourself while also remaining realistic. Apart from considering your current PR or your average mile time, you need to also factor in other facts, such as your age and your health status. Although you always want to set goals that suit your individual needs and situation, it may be helpful to read through some averages to see where you slot in. For instance, the average time for a 5K run per age group is:

Age Group     Female  Male      

These are, of course, ballpark figures. If you’re often running races, your PR will likely be much faster, whereas if you’ve just started running, your average may be slower. It doesn’t really matter what your PR or your average time per mile is. It’s more about using your PR to set future running goals.

For the best results, set small, achievable goals at regular intervals, and systematically work towards reaching your larger goals. You can, for instance, decide to decrease your average time per mile by a second or two each week or to decrease your 5K time by a certain amount of time every two weeks.

You can also work on gradually increasing your distance. Take note of your energy levels and of how your body reacts. If you start to get aches and pains or are generally feeling tired, you may need to revise your training plan.

How to Improve Your PR

What does PR stand for in running?
Doing your speed training on a track works well as you can easily measure your sprints

You’ll note that the longer you run, the more difficult it may become to improve your PR. If you notice that you’re stagnating in your running performance, the best way to take things up a notch is through speed and cross-training.

Adding various types of exercises to your running schedule is the best way to strengthen different groups of muscles and increase your overall fitness and endurance.

Speed training is another effective way in which to strengthen your muscles and cardiovascular system. Even if you work speed training into your weekly schedule once a week, you’ll start to note an improvement in your performance. Doing your speed training on a track works well as you can easily measure your sprints.

You can, for instance, run repetitions of 80-meter stretches at top speed, and take walking breaks in-between. Hill training is also an effective training technique to improve your strength and fitness.

Final Word on What Does PR Stand for in Running

Recording your personal record is a great way to keep yourself motivated and improve your performance as a runner. Although you want to challenge yourself, it’s important to always listen to your body and to keep a healthy balance. Over-training often leads to slower racing times and may also lead to injury and burnout.

But, if you go about your training systematically and include cross-training and speed training into your schedule, you will keep improving your PR and remain a focused and energetic runner.

FAQs About What Does PR Stand for in Running

What are other common acronyms in running?

Apart from PR, runners use many other acronyms in their lingo. Here are a few:
1. DNF (Did Not Finish): This acronym refers to those times when a runner isn’t able to finish a race. Even seasoned runners may have a DNF or two under their belt.
2. PW (Personal Worst): Personal worst is the opposite of Personal Record (or Personal Best). Although you may not necessarily want to keep reminding yourself of your worst performances, a PW can act as a baseline that you can use to measure your development over time.
3. LSD (Long Slow Distance): LCD refers to the times when you practice distance running in your weekly jogging schedule. Since these runs obviously are more time-consuming, runners tend to fit an LSD in over the weekend.

What is the purpose of a running watch?

As is the case with running apps, running watches accurately track and record details such as speed, distance, route, and elevation. The Garmin Forerunner 945, for instance, can measure your training over a specific period so that you can gauge whether you need to up your training or slow down.