Finding your limits

There are two kinds of limits in running, those you think you have, and those you actually have.

When you first get into the sport you have lots of the former; “I could never run a 5K/10K/Half-Marathon/Full-Marathon”. But then you start getting into your running and you find that, actually, you can do some of these things. Maybe it takes signing up for a race at a distance you think you can’t do to actually prove to yourself you can do it!

After these limits have been pushed back you get into the later, where you do actually find the limit of your ability, and it can be a bit of a shock. It may take several years to find these limits as you learn what your body can do, and you are able to extract the best from yourself.

There will probably be a series of personal bests where you get faster, can go further and then suddenly that stops and you realise that actually you have hit the buffers and can go no further. This is what has happened to me this season.

I don’t believe I have hit the limit of my ability in terms of times, I am certain that if I get the chance to run another marathon in the future and also get the time to train for it properly then I can still take a large chunk out of my current PB (3hr43). The limit I have found though is how much I can do. 

I ran out of energy in the Marathon part of the Goofy Challenge, and since I have come back I have struggled to go any further than 4M. I tried for 10 last week and managed 8 with the last 4 being walk/run. The shorter runs I am doing are still at a decent pace, but I know that I have come right off the peak I had building for in Orlando.

I have a half-marathon this Sunday which I am not actually going to “race” but just run round at an easy pace. I am not even taking my watch with me to time it, and will just rely on using RunKeeper on my phone.

So basically the limit I have found is how many races I can manage in a short period of time that I can actually go at hard. It is 17 weeks since the Disney Wine and Dine Half-Marathon and in that time I will have completed 3 halfs and 2 full marathons. According to RunKeeper I have covered 626M at an average of about 37M a week over that time. Apart from this final half-marathon I have pretty much raced all the other events this season, with a new PB for the half in October and also for the full in December, and I was on for a massive PB in Disney until I hit the limiter!

I guess this is a form of over-training, maybe just over-racing. It is the busiest year I have ever had for races, and it looks like I bit off too much by trying to PB in every race. It just wasn’t do-able. That’s the thing about this sport though, just when you think you know everything and you are confident of exactly what you can do, you learn something knew. Now it is down to me to take this new found knowledge and apply it to the future so I can find the other limits that are out there.

For future seasons I am going to have to learn that if I want to do so many races then I can’t go “all-out” for every one, some of them have to just be for fun.