Limitations. Potato Coucher to Ultra Runner Part 3

 

It is not unusual to hear people talking about going beyond your limits to succeed. I don’t think that is possible when running  except if I cheat or  seriously injure myself.  I want to be the best somehow, but performance enhancing drugs? really? Not for me. Then I didn’t pick up a sport so my health would be worse off. That being said, when I started running I  wanted each workout to be as hard as I possibly could make it. Guess what happened? I hurt myself, a lot.

Knowing my limits was essential to obtain sustainable results. At some point, I had to tell myself: no you are not running today, you are not working out, you are resting. Even if I have great results on the short and middle term, they will not compensate the time I’ll spend out of the tracks because of an injury. What I did was to strategically identify my limits and push myself to reach them, and slowly push them further away. To do so, I diversified my workouts, the types of run I would do, and included some extra time to walk and stretch after key efforts for injury prevention.

Ironically there is another side of the spectrum. Sometimes you are just too mentally drained to run at all. This can be caused by overrunning, but I think it is simply inherent to any long-term effort, no matter how well sustained. Consistency and repetition are hard and mentally draining. One day, in the middle of an easy 10k , for no apparent reason I just had to stop, and fell weirdly emotional. So I had to find ways to trick my mind to go out on these lazy days and continue the effort as far as I could. For example, I would run as far as I could with nothing but my phone so that it would be too long to just walk back home.

I like to think that I applied these tricks to be a better self, but it is probably not true. Even if I am able to apply certain qualities to one type of activity, it doesn’t mean that I can do it in every other space of my life. There are specific adaptations and efforts which ought to be made in order to expand our potential in a specific area. I feel like if I want to get better at something I simply have to start all over again and put efforts into developing that quality in a new space. The only big advantage I have starting again is that I know where I am going and I have an idea of how to get there.

For example, there is a point in the run when we start losing focus and our running form starts getting bad, and it usually gets worse. So there are two qualities we need to develop, staying focus as long as we can, and when we start losing focus mitigating the effects on our body. these skills can be applied to almost any work, and yet I am better at staying focus when I am running then when I am preparing a presentation.

Of course, I believe like most people that learning a skill can be useful for a broad range of domains. But I also feel like we tend to exaggerate the capacity of a skill to be reproduced in every single situation. I don’t believe that running a marathon makes a person active and determined. There are some lazy marathon runners out there believe it or not, but they aren’t lazy when they are running.

With this last paragraph, I just want to point out that we tend to follow blindly a set of rule which leads us to give authority to single-skilled prophets who want to preach their success as an overarching unidirectional story applicable to all of us mortals. Maybe some ventures follow the same rules, but no two ventures follow the same story. I hope I am not being too preachy, and that reader you believe that all I am trying to do is tell stories and from which we can just pick what we want.

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