All runners are naturally obsessed with setting and breaking their own personal records. It just comes with the sport - we're competing with ourselves, so we want to beat ourselves. I will never win an Olympic medal in running. I will never even win a local race!
When I was younger and had just begun running, I was faster. Such is life, I guess. I hope to one day be that fast again, where anything slower than an hour for a 10k sucked and my goal of breaking 25 minutes in the 5k was not that far out of my grasp (25:40 PR, thank you very much).
Then I got sick. And old.
So, what do I do? Do I start my PRs all over again? Someday I want to be back where I was before, and I most certainly am not so old that it's out of my reach. But I'm not there yet, and in the meantime I'm taking any improvements I can as affirmation.
On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"