Personal Best versus Personal Record is there a Difference

Is there a difference between a Personal Best (PB) and a Personal Record (PR)?

Personally I believe that there is.

Way back in the Dark Ages of the 70’s and 80’s, when I first started running, other runners, (many of whom were much older and wiser than I ever will be, in other words they were about my age now), that I hung out with back then strongly believed that there was a huge difference between a PB and PR.

Ever since then I have always thought that a PB is an unofficial record and a PR is an official record.

A personal best was an unofficial time/distance that wasn’t done on a “certified” course and can’t be independently verified by race results (which sometimes have their own issues). It was usually a training run, unofficial group run or on a treadmill.

Example. The 19:59, I ran for 3.1 miles on the treadmill last month was a great run and I use for achieving my goal this year of breaking 20:00 minutes for a 5K, but it is not a PR. That is a goal that I set, was for me and how or when I break it doesn’t matter, other than I know that I did and achieved that goal.

I knew that I was close to breaking 20:00 and didn’t want to slow down or affect my form that last .10 to take out my phone, just to take a photo at 3.1 miles to show the actual time, but I got it pretty close after I finished in 19:59

A personal record is an official race result on hopefully a certified course. It can be verified and you did it with other runners around you.

An example of this – I had never raced a half marathon before last October, so my half marathon PR is 1:41:10 and was set at the Runner’s World Half Festival, even though I have run a 1:39:42 for the same distance on the treadmill and when I was training for back in the 80’s at a lot faster pace at that distance, those are not my PR’s.

It took a couple of seconds to get the camera out 🙂

So really the distinctions in my mind between a Personal Best or a Personal Record are when or where it was done and that one is an independent verification of your time/distance.

I can’t verify that I ran a 19:59 that day on the treadmill, but I know that did, so that is a Personal Best for a 5K post 55 and meets my goal this year. While I can independently verify that I ran a 1:41:10 for a half marathon, so that is a Personal Record that still stands even though I have a personal best this year of 1:39:42.

Does this really matter to most of us? Probably not, since running and our definitions of what is a PR are a very personal thing, but I am still a little old-school and the distinction between a PB and PR does exist for me.

What do you think, is there a distinction between a Personal Best or Personal Record for you?

Does it really matter?

9 thoughts on “Personal Best versus Personal Record is there a Difference

  1. Funny…never given this much thought. But I guess I agree…a PR is the official deal. Interestingly, however, our Canadian friends (and European, too?) use PB instead of PR.

  2. That is what I learned this morning, I had always taken for granted that there was a difference was a difference between PR and PB. Would it be an official PB and unofficial PB or what distinction or (if any) do our Canadian and European friends make between a verifiable PB or something that you know that you ran.

    Interesting questions 🙂

  3. By definition I think there's a difference, but I think the actual term is used regionally (PB in England, Australia, Canada). Great post though – definitely gives me something to think about. 🙂

  4. When I think of personal record, I think of the official stats with where I'm at. It keeps me motivated to push forward and progress knowing that I've accomplished it before, let's do it again and beat it.

    Personal best for me is my overall psychical and most importantly, emotional state. If my attitude, how I feel and the satisfied run is aligned, I would consider it my personal best.

  5. I like how there are a lot of different views on this and how the terminology is viewed or used slightly differently. It is interesting to see how differently other runners view something that we each take for granted. 🙂

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