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The extreme lengths runners go to run a PB

Stories of running success, brought to you by our readers

Runners are astonishingly committed to their craft, which is why the lengths they will go to for a personal best may seem extreme to some. Here’s a sampling of the most shocking things that Canadian Running readers have done in the pursuit of running as fast as they can.

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The track and prom balancing act

Jessica O’Connell is a Canadian 5,000m champion and an Olympian. O’Connell perfectly sums up the conflict that high school runners face during their senior track season–which is that prom and track season fall at the same time.

“I drove from high school provincials straight to the hair dresser (which is a two hour drive) and got my hair done for grade 12 graduation. I took an ice bath rather than a shower because my hair was then done, then hopped on a party bus and went to grad. I also went to the after-grad party until 2 a.m. but only drank water. I slept in until 10 a.m., hopped on a plane to Vancouver, raced a 3,000m in Richmond that afternoon and PB’d by like 25 seconds and qualified for the Junior Pan Am Games. Then I flew home again that evening. Oh to be young.”

Calls in sick, goes to a race

When your boss or teacher just doesn’t get how important your hobby is, some runners suddenly become gravely ill and are forced to go run a race on their sick day.


Conrad Alexander writes, “My first year as a U Sports alumni I lied to my professor who had a crazy attendance policy and told them that I got specifically invited to a high performance meet. They didn’t exempt me. So I called in sick with a forged doctors note. Drove six hours at 150km/h from Winnipeg to South Dakota (got a flat tire, had to change it in a snow storm). Got to the hotel, left my car lights on. Woke up hours before my race with a dead battery. Finally got to the track and ran a indoor 800m PB.”

The first-timer personal best

If you’re struggling to run a PB at a distance you’ve raced multiple times, just try a new one. Because you’ve never raced the event before, it’s an automatic personal best.


John M. Campbell writes, “I have never been fast, even relatively. So instead of trying (and usually failing) to PB in the common distances (half-marathons, full marathons) I moved to longer distances. I tried and completed a 50K race and ran a huge PB. Then a 50-miler–another PB. And finally a 100-miler. I think my days of PB’ing have now come to an end, but I am content with my accomplishments.”

I’m with the band


This story speaks to those who love multitasking. Carol Farrar writes, “My band was hired for the after-race party for the Shamrock Run. I set up my instruments on stage and ran the race while the other two band members performed. I had someone ready at the stage door with a fresh shirt. I ran the race, kept running to the stage door, changed my shirt, ran onstage and joined in on the music. Best duathlon ever.”

Bathroom stop optional


When you’re committed to the personal best, nothing will stop you–not even a bathroom break. Leanne Loney writes, “I ran a marathon in the pouring rain so instead of stopping at porta-potties, I peed as I ran. I was able to drop my personal best by 14 minutes and finish in 3:44.”

Abandoning your social life


A run hole is defined as, “A runner who neglects their friends, family and significant other while training for an endurance race.”

Leanne McAmmond found herself in a run hole while trying to qualify for Boston. “Does buckling down and becoming a total run hole, building a training plan and sticking to it come hell or high water, running more than I ever have before and at a higher intensity until my body got extraordinarily mad at me and started to fall apart count as extreme? I mean, it’s not exciting or glamorous or funny, but it was a pretty extreme training load. But I set a personal best marathon time by almost 25 minutes and got a Boston qualifier out of it.”

Anything to get the run in


Parents who run understand that they’ve got a small window to fit their training in–and that window is usually between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. Nadine Robinson writes, “Does waking up at 4:00 a.m. four to five days a week count as extreme?” We say yes.

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