When you first start a new sport or journey, it can often seem like a stream of constant personal records (PRs) and achievements! It’s pretty easy to PR every day when every workout is different and you’re riding that “freshman year” wave of gains. What happens when this phase is over? Well, PRs come a lot less frequently and people immediately start to believe that their progress is stalling. Social media does not help as it adds to the pressure of feeling the need to hit heavier weights and develop better skills in the gym.
As athletes, we are naturally addicted to personal bests. We find the need to quantify and beat every possible metric we have previously hit; lift PRs (“I just beat my best snatch by 2 pounds!”), benchmark PRs (“I am going to crush my Fran time tomorrow!”), accessory PRs (“I’m going for a new 1RM weighted strict pull up!”), or even diet PRs (“I am down to my lowest weight so far!”) But what do these metrics really mean and why are we so obsessed? Well, they validate the progress that we are all looking for from our training. It is awesome to PR, but it is not smart to let the “PR-mindset” become an obsession.
What happens when you don’t PR? Do you become frustrated and immediately chalk your training as a failure or do you look for positives that came from the day? When we are constantly chasing personal bests, the mental risk versus reward changes. We become more willing to take risks we usually would avoid. We’re more likely to compromise our technique to hit one more rep, more likely to push our bodies even if we’re sick or not feeling well, and more likely to overlook injuries just to taste that new record. PRs should be celebrated, but only rarely should they be the sole motivator for your day at the gym. Try not to get too caught up in setting new records all the time, but instead focus on enjoying the journey towards those achievements!