What Is A PR In Running?

If you are new to the gym, a running club, or any kind of fitness group, there is a good chance you have heard other people talking about “PRs”.

What Is A PR In Running?

Specifically, beating their PRs, going for a PR, achieving a new PR, and so on.

In fact, it’s a common term among fitness enthusiasts that means the same thing but can be applied to different exercises, as well as any factors that might be involved in that exercise.

In this short and simple guide, find out what PR means in fitness overall, what a PR means in running and lastly, how to improve your running PR.

What Does PR Mean In Fitness?

So, what does PR mean?

PR, quite simply, is an initialism that is short for “personal record”. In fitness, this can be applied to any exercise and what was achieved doing that exercise.

To provide examples, a PR in weightlifting could mean the heaviest amount of weight a person was able to lift in a specific exercise, such as a deadlift.

In swimming, a PR could be the longest distance someone has swum in a given time.

PRs tend to hold a lot of value for fitness enthusiasts as it indicates their best performance in an exercise, and a set “bar” that they can aim to beat in the future.

PRs can be used to track progress and set higher targets, as well as compare one’s abilities to other professional records and averages.

What Is A PR In Running?

What Is A PR In Running?

In general, a PR in running indicates the fastest time taken for a runner to run a certain distance.

Most commonly, this will be a popular long-distance run, such as 5k, 10k, a half marathon, marathon, or ultramarathon.

A PR in running can also refer to the longest distance someone has run, regardless of time, or the top speed someone has reached while sprinting.

Overall, PR is a flexible term that can be applied to many factors. Typically, though, if a runner is talking about their PR, it will most likely be their best time running a specific distance.

How To Improve Your Running PR

Even if you are new to running, there is a good chance you will have already set a PR.

It doesn’t matter if you are running 1 kilometer or 5 kilometers – the fastest time it took you to run any set distance can be considered a PR!

As long as you are measuring distance and time in some way – whether that’s using a GPS app, fitness tracker, or treadmill – it is possible to find out and track your PR.

Of course, if you are running for a specific goal, you will want to improve your distance, pace (speed), and time. This will be especially true if you plan on running competitively or entering an organized running event.

So, below, find out all the ways that you can improve your running PR.

Track Progress And Log Results

Aside from tracking your overall PR, it is possible to track each running factor individually, including the total time you run for, the total distance, pace, calories burned, heart rate, and more.

Whether you choose to track one, two, or several of these things comes down to preference.

Either way, tracking your progress and logging your results over time is one of the best ways to improve your PR, as it provides raw data that you can draw from.

Set Higher Targets

What Is A PR In Running?

This might be obvious, but another great way to improve your running PR is to consistently set higher targets for yourself.

Pushing yourself to run further/for longer or faster will build your endurance, stamina, and overall cardiovascular fitness.

This follows on from tracking progress and logging your results. Each week, fortnight, or month, aim to set higher running targets to reach.

When it comes to running, distance and pace are the two main factors to always try to improve on.

Fix Running Form

Whether you are new to running or not, there is always room to improve your running form.

Good running form is important as it can help to improve your PR but, more importantly, reduce the risk of injuries.

To give a brief explanation, correct running form involves a level chin and neutral neck, relaxed shoulders, controlled arm swinging (more than 90 degrees), engaged glutes, and light footfalls directly beneath the knee, landing in the middle of the heel and ball of your foot.

Wear Running Shoes

Another factor that can improve your running PR, and overall performance when running, is wearing suitable running shoes. Heavy shoes with a flat sole are generally not the best option for running.

On the contrary, try to wear light, comfortable shoes with heel cushioning/padding and arch support. Your running shoes should also fit perfectly (not too tight or too loose) when the laces are tied.

Train Uphill And Incline Runs

Most organized running events are carried out on flat routes, which make it easier, and generally safer, to run.

However, if you want to build strength, stamina, and speed, it can be beneficial to train running uphill and on inclined surfaces.

Of course, running uphill is more difficult. But, if done often, you will reap the benefits when it comes to running flat routes.

You can do this by including uphill areas on your running routes or by running on a treadmill with the belt set at an incline.

Rest And Recover

What Is A PR In Running?

As with any exercise program, it is important to allow adequate time to rest and recover.

This doesn’t just restore energy after being fatigued, but also provides time for muscles and joints to repair themselves and get stronger, which will improve your PR.

Due to this, try to space out your runs (especially if they involve long distances) or, if you want to run 4-6 times a week, keep the distance to an amount that is manageable.

Either way, it is always beneficial to take a break and it will not harm your progress.

Improve Nutrition

If you are attempting a new running PR, nutrition is just as important as getting enough rest and recovery.

In fact, almost all runners put a lot of focus on their nutrition before a big running event, such as a marathon, to make sure their energy levels are maximized.

But, in general, good nutrition through a healthy, well-balanced diet will help to improve your running performance on the whole.

And if you want to improve your running PRs, opt for energy-boosting carbs, starchy vegetables, bananas, and so on to achieve the best results.


A PR in running means “personal record”. More specifically, a running PR will refer to a runner’s fastest time to complete a specific distance.

This might be a 5k run, 10k run, half marathon, marathon, or ultramarathon.

PR is a term used among all fitness enthusiasts and can refer to weightlifting, powerlifting, cycling, swimming, and more.

Ultimately, it means the best performance achieved in a specific exercise, with relation to factors such as weight, time, speed, or repetitions.

Megan Rinzel
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