Knowing Your Limits

No this isn’t about running and drinking, although now having thought it I am having visions of athletes staggering over finishing lines through drunkenness. No definitely do not drink and run, in fact I don’t even drink the night before I run. I gave up alcohol for lent this year and now barely touch the stuff and I hear you all shouting ‘cheap date’. This is about knowing your own personal limitations when running.

My training plan this week today me for a nice 9 mile run on Sunday (completed), then a 7 mile speed training session (we all know how much I love those) after work on Tuesday. I was powering along nicely, in fact my pace was the fastest it had ever been, when 3 miles in I felt I could no longer continue. I had felt hot and tired during the run but I had a pain so bad in my leg that I thought I must turn around immediately and jog lightly home. So I turned around and 30 seconds later just stopped to walk. It felt like a cramp but mixed with my continuing injuries of Achilles and shin splints problems all mixed nicely in my right leg. I walked (limped) glumly home feeling defeated. 5 minutes later the feeling had passed so I put a light jog back in and low and behold the pain came back. Feeling like an abject failure, I resigned myself to the fact I had injured myself further and immediately tried to diagnose my problem via the internet. I couldn’t find the specific cause of the problem but already having 2 injuries made me sure the only real answer was RICE. Rest Ice Compression and Elevation.

So 2 days off running and some ice, compression and elevation later and I had a burning sensation to do some running. My training plan was telling me to run  7 miles and  I thought this was too much to test out a potentially dodgy leg so I dropped it to 6. Hey presto, what do you know I ran my fastest ever time. Had I been running a 10k today I wouldn’t blitzed it in 57:11 now that’s never going to happen on race day! I’ve had to ice the leg since running but it feels OK, tomorrow may tell another story.

But the story simply doesn’t end there. Last year I ‘ran’ the London BUPA 10K in an hour and 15 minutes because I was injured. I wasn’t running particularly quickly at the time either so even though I would’ve hoped to have completed it much faster had I run the whole distance instead of hobbling some of it, the time was ok for me then. I knew my limits. I knew I would have to put some walking into the runs to get through the end of the race to even finish it.

Now I know my body and what I am capable of much better and I knew the second something wasn’t right with my leg so I stopped before I did more damage. It is important we know what we are physically capable of and we listen to our bodies to know out physical limits. Our mental limits are far greater than we can imagine, don’t even think you can’t do it until your body tells you it can’t!