Chances are if you’re reading this, then you want to run faster. Whether you want to shave thirty seconds or thirty minutes off your PR, you probably often wonder what you need to do to make it happen. But have you ever thought of it this way:
What are you willing to do to run faster?
How many miles a week are you willing to run? How much time are you willing to invest? How much money are you willing to spend? How much discomfort are you willing to endure?
What’s achieving your running dream worth to you?
Last week I told you how I’m dreaming big and not going to be embarrassed about it any more. I’m going to aim high and pursue the Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifying Standard. I really want to achieve this goal. I will run every day. I will sometimes run twice a day. I will teeter on the edge of injury and risk bonking on training runs and in races. I’ll deprive myself of ice cream and more or less tee-total for years. And yes, I’ll risk being the freak running lady at the PTA meetings (heck, I’m already there!) All of this stuff works for me and might seem crazy to you.
Ask any elite or subelite runner and they’ll tell you it takes a lot of work and a lot of discomfort to squeeze every last second out of their PRs. I believe this is true for all of us: to be the best runners we can be we often need to run every day, sometimes twice a day and we have to be willing to push ourselves through pain and discomfort, both physical and mental. These are things that most experts agree will help just about anyone reach his or her potential. But must you do those things?
No! Everyone’s got a tipping point: the point in which the sacrifices necessary to get faster just aren’t worth it. No one has to do any of the things that will make them faster, only if the results of running faster are worth it to her. My tipping point is different from yours and that lady’s over there and Kara Goucher‘s. We all have our limits. There is no one-size fits all when it comes to how much you invest in your running. We can all dream big, do whatever we can within those limits to achieve our goals and be happy for ourselves and each other. What’s right for me may not be right for you and vice versa. And, heck yeah, that’s ok!
While running every day, doing doubles, ass-early treadmill runs, stroller runs etc. are training elements I’m willing to use to get faster, there are only so many miles I can fit in a week before I reach my limit. I haven’t met it yet, but I’ll certainly know it when I see it (more on that in an upcoming post). You, on the other hand, might only be willing to run 5 days a week. That’s fine! You’d probably be faster if you ran 7, but if the benefits of running every day aren’t worth the sacrifice of that time to you then stick with 5. I’m sure I’d be faster if I pulled an Ariana Hilborn and structured my life more around my running, but that’s beyond what I’m willing to do. Focusing on running full-time and relocating to train with a new team and coaches were things she was willing to do. Good for her! Bad for me!
I think it’s important to understand our limits so we can train optimally. Knowing our limits helps us to see when we’re making excuses for investing less than we want into our running goals and also to push to the point at which we really have nothing left that we’re willing to invest. I think it can also relieve frustration to know that, in all likelihood, that lady that’s always taking first in your age-group is not necessarily a better runner than you, but rather she probably has more she’s willing to invest. And then when things change in life – when we suddenly come into more time or money, for example – then we can reevaluate and better know how to up the ante and invest that time or money into achieving those goals.
So, tell me, what are and aren’t you willing to do to get faster?