As much as I want to believe anything is possible, I'm a realist, and the reality is that this is just not true. I expressed a similar sentiment in my most recent instagram post. Love me or hate me, I was coming at you with some pretty raw emotion having torn(?... I really don't know) my calf for the third time in 9 months. (sidenote: How is it that I was able to run and race pregnant with no problems and now I'm a hot mess? My odds. ha!) There are a plethora of variables that dislodge you from achieving your goals. There are a million and one reasonable excuses, and other commitments that can keep you from your own personal "Olympic Trials Standard" (you know, that perfectly out of reach goal that you are stretching and grasping for), but there are two major major variables that I'm referring to as Thresholds that will come into play at some point.
Talent and Time
Talent is a confusing word in the world of running. In general, we all know talent means someone who has a natural inherent skill. Running is so much more complex than we give it credit for. The word Talent, in my opinion and from my experience, is really just a bowl of multiple skills necessary to excel in the sport. So, in theory, you can be talented in one aspect and not in another and still find success... but the more you have, the better you are.
Let me explain: In my years of running this is how I see it... Talent in running is like a bowl. Your raw talent (what we typically think of as talent; Your v02max) is your bowl. How much raw talent you have determines how big your bowl is. But you know the saying "Hard Work beats Talent when Talent doesn't work Hard". Talent is useless. A bowl is useless until you use it and fill it with something. What do you fill your talent bowl with?
Here are some examples of other skills or talents that are typically important to have in your talent bowl:
1. Work Ethic
2. Physical Toughness
3. Mental Toughness
4. Stress Management
5. Time Management
These are all stand alone skills that not every Raw Talented runner possesses. Just as you can only improve your God Given running talent so much, you can only improve on other skills to a certain degree, too. Some skills, like work ethic, can be improved upon better than others. Mental Toughness, for example, is an area I feel is very hard to gain if it is not inherently there. (There's nothing tangible to help measure mental toughness, so how do you really know if you improve? and if you're not sure if you are improving upon a skill, how do you know if what you are doing is "working")
Then there is durability. I didn't include durability above, because I see it differently. Durability; What is your talent bowl made of? How much of the above can it hold without spilling or breaking, or dropping something? (think of a bowl made of straw vs. papermache, vs clay vs glass vs. plastic vs stainless steel.) How much do you respect it and take care for it? It doesn't matter how big your bowl is (how much raw talent you have) or how much you put in your bowl (all those subset skills) if it's just going to break or leak or fall apart before you are able to use what you're storing inside.
So it's not the raw talent that really changes. The size of your bowl is generally fixed (maybe some slight modifications can be made, but nothing major). It's what you fill your bowl with and how you protect and take care of your bowl that produce results (some require more maintenance than others. eh'em). As much as we like to believe our potential is endless, it's not. Once your bowl is full there's not much more you can do. There are always exceptions, but generally speaking, if you see someone dropping 30 minutes to an hour in their time, its not because they beat genetics, it's not because they were never a runner, it's because they suddenly became aware that this talent was there. They found this big ol' family bowl that hidden in the back of the pantry somewhere and started filling it up with that other stuff they naturally had or had learned over time.
The good news (depending on your perspective) is that most people are not going to hit this threshold in their lifetime. Most people will never fill their bowl to the top, so this is amazing because forever in your life you will always have the ability to improve upon something. keep on grinding and don't give up!
With that being said, the bad news is that the reason you will likely not maximize (truly maximize) your potential in your lifetime is because there is another threshold: Time. With each passing day, the durability of your body declines, which means holding onto all those skills you've mastered gets harder and requires more work. If we had endless youth, and endless amount of time, think about what you would be able to fill your bowl with! There's a benefit to age. One study showed that a 18 year olds ran similar times in the marathon to 55-60 year old's, this is likely because experience also matters so much is learned with age and maturity. Research also showed that you can still run like your 20 well into your 40's.... that's amazing! But with that being said, your body is still losing muscle mass, and overall the stability of your bowl is declining. You are continuing to fill it up with experience after experience, after experience... but you are constantly racing against time. Will you have enough time to fill your bowl before it breaks?
Why am I writing this? Am I trying to crush everyone's dreams? NO... I guess I'm writing this to refocus myself, I need to give myself a visual for what is going on right now. I'm frantically tossing shit in a bowl because I'm fearful of time beating me... Meanwhile I'm wasting my time because the only thing I should be focused on is healing. Truly healing. So that's what I will do. Meanwhile, I don't have to worry about not gaining anything. I think injuries build a lot of that mental toughness. That part I said was really hard to come by if it wasn't already there, so there is always always something to be gained. As frustrated as I am, I'm going to focus on that positive, and hang onto it. I plan to take time off until I am out of school and have weened Maebel a little bit more. I'm done thinking about my goals for a while, I just want to focus on my family and my happiness. I'm not going to keep filling my bowl up with stress and anger, and frustration. Good Vibes only!
Welcome to my blog! I blogged my entire pregnancy in 2017 and I had high hopes for where I could take my running after baby number 2, but my body had other plans. At some point I got too discouraged to write and recently realized that it is essential for my personal growth and development to keep putting feelings into coherent(ish) thoughts. I still hope to run sub 2:45 in the marathon one day, but for now I’m trying to focus on the process and I’m learning to enjoy it. You can come along for the ride, apologies in advance for grammatical incorrectness!