Running PBs and the law of diminishing returns

Training calendar

Listening to this week’s episode of Marathon Talk where Martin and Tom had a chat about PBs, I thought I’d sit down and look at the amount of time between all my Parkrun PBs and the number of weeks it took between them.

Running and many other forms of exercise all suffer from the law of diminishing returns. In other words, the improvements will be huge in the early days of your running career, requiring only small changes in your training; as you become a more accomplished runner, you will start to find the improvements take longer to achieve and require significantly more work to hit targets.

Anyway, here’s a run down of the time between my Parkrun PBs:

07/04/12
21/04/12 – 2 weeks
28/04/12 – 1 week
05/05/12 – 1 week
12/05/12 – 1 week
09/06/12 – 4 weeks
28/07/12 – 7 weeks
25/08/12 – 4 weeks
15/09/12 – 3 weeks
22/09/12 – 1 week
13/10/12 – 4 weeks
27/10/12 – 2 weeks
03/11/12 – 1 week
10/11/12 – 1 week
17/11/12 – 1 week
01/12/12 – 2 weeks
26/01/13 – 8 weeks
09/03/13 – 6 weeks
30/03/13 – 3 weeks
25/05/13 – 8 weeks
01/06/13 – 1 week

Now, I must point out a few things. Some of the larger gaps between PBs may have been due to absence or tapering for a big race, though I have tried to attend Parkrun every week since September. The 8 week gaps have no excuse and were a little demoralising.

I do tend to go hard at every Parkrun and it’s rare for me to hold back; those that see me lying in a fetal position on the floor know that I’ve given everything. I’m getting to that stage where I think I’m going to have to start being more strategic with when I choose to attempt a PB, possibly restricting myself to every 3 or 4 weeks to maximise training and to act as a mini taper of sorts.

I get the feeling right now that it’s almost just a psychological barrier standing between me and a sub-20 minute PB. To give me the best chance of PBing this Saturday, I’ve decided to set my GPS watch to kilometres where it’s easier to track my pace (4 minutes per kilometre, simples). I will also try to remember to take my beetroot shot this time as well!

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