Monday, September 19, 2011

On Pushing Limits

I always find myself picking apart a race after it happens, thinking about how I could have run faster.  I wonder if I should not pick it apart so much, but the truth is I think I learn how to run smarter by doing it and in turn run faster.  So far every half marathon, 10k, and 5 mile run I have done in the past 3 years has been faster than the one before it.  I know eventually that will stop and I am okay with that.  I know that I am getting older and eventually will start to slow up a little.

Maybe a better way to think about it is to accept the race, bask in the glory of the race, take it for what it was good or bad and look for ways to do better next time.  There are factors that are out of our control like the weather, but I can control my mental game and racing strategy.

I was thinking last night about how much stronger I am mentally while racing than I was in high school.  I did cross country in high school and was okay but not really stellar.  I do remember that while racing I always went out way too fast and then spent the last half of the race struggling.  When I was tired sometimes I would just walk, big hills - hated them!  Now when I am tired I pull out a mantra, I dig deep, I focus on my breathing and keep putting one foot in front of the other till I get across the finish line.

I have pushed myself this year to a level I didn't think I was capable of. I always kind of figured that a 7 minute mile for a 5k was my limit.  I knew the McMillan calculator said I could pull off a half marathon below 1:40 but I wasn't really sure I could.  I always kind of figured myself a sprinter of short distances not really a half marathon kind of girl.  This year I exceeded my expectations at every distance I ran which leaves me wondering again like I was at this time last year. 

What more can I do.  

How much harder can I push my body.  

What are my limits?

How much faster can I really push these races?

The answers I don't know.  But I really hope to find out.

I do know that I am not going to think that I have limits, I am going to aim to break my barriers and get new PRs.  It won't be the end of the world if I do not, but pushing for them gives me motivation.    :)

Some great quotes

"Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves. It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps us to find out what we are made of. This is what we do. This is what it's all about."
-PattiSue Plumer, U.S. Olympian

"Believe that you can run farther or faster. Believe that you're young enough, old enough, strong enough, and so on to accomplish everything you want to do. Don't let worn-out beliefs stop you from moving beyond yourself."-John Bingham, running speaker and writer

"Ask yourself: 'Can I give more?'. The answer is usually: 'Yes'."
-Paul Tergat, Kenyan professional marathoner

What motivates you?
Do you have barriers you have pushed past that you previously didn't think you were capable of?

P.S. If you have a minute and could please go HERE and vote for me, I would love you forever.  I would love to be a part of Team Refuel.  You can vote once a day per computer  :)  Thanks again.   Only 26 more days of me begging for votes : D


  1. One barrier for me was running a marathon. I finally got past that with a running partner, now I need to get past the barrier of running a marathon solo. Which I will be doing Oct 16. Excited, but nervous. I will conquer and rejoice in it. Signing up for a marathon was my motivator to get out and get some miles in. voted to day

  2. Just running pushes my limits :-) I had asthma as a child, and even after I became active and starting working out, I *still* had a block and couldn't run without keeling over...

    Now, I'm running longer distances and actually kind of liking it, so every time I run, I feel like I'm pushing my limit.

    You're awesome. I voted for you!

  3. You are so dead on with this post. It's hard to push myself when I run, but I also cherish that feeling of breaking a boundary.

    Setting a sub-25 minute 5k PR earlier this year was my big boundary breaker. I was only looking to break 26 minutes this year, and was shocked when I saw 24:34 in the results!

  4. I am very motivated by the desire to be there for my kids when they grow up. At 2 and 4, they depend on me for everything. Running keeps me healthy. I have lost 125 pounds and have a new found love for working out.

    As far as barriers - I think just running a 5k was huge for me. Since I did that - my more recent barrier is to completed a half marathon. Going to be doing my first this weekend, hopefully all goes well!

  5. love this post and the quotes! I didn't read yesterday's post until just now, so congrats on the PR and being completely amazing!! I'm motivated just by reading other blogs and seeing how far people have this post is definitely motivating me! Barriers - just the fears that maybe I can't go as far as I think I can. I'm always shocked when I can complete a run that seemed so daunting before.

  6. I voted! I looooove to refuel with chocolate milk. I never thought of doing so until my dietitian suggested it. Such a great idea. Hope you win!!!

  7. I love this post! Pushing your limits for speed or distance is how I keep running interesting. :)

  8. first of all...CORRECTION..the getting older part probably actually ensures you will keep getting FASTER! haven't you noticed all the race winners are often women in their 30's and 40's? you go girl! I'm with ya, NO LIMITS! you can do ANYTHING!!!

  9. Amen! Love that poster.

    I am pretty sure you are really Super Girl in disguise and have NO limits.

  10. Fab post, Christy :)

    I am motivated by naysayers as well as smiles. I have broken the "i'll never run again... i'll never walk like a normal person again" barrier. And boy, does it feel good :)

  11. love the quotes and that you've pushed yourself further than you thought possible. SO motivating! Lots of things motivate husband, kids, family, my passion for health and fitness! I am motivated by where I came from, the lack of motivation that I used to have and the unhealthy habits I had developed...I will never go back there and THAT motivates me more than anything :)
    ...and this post motivated me too!!!

  12. A great motivation post!
    I just ended a streak of 2 1/2 years of consecutive PRs in every distance I raced. I GET what you said about your streak and how it will come to an end- some day. I am starting to see that a victory over a mental struggle is JUST as big as a PR. But I like to have both :)

  13. I *heart* anything by John Bingham. (I think RW is a much duller magazine since his departure.) And I couldn't agree more. I used to think of myself as a long-slow-plodder (meaning 4:30-5:00 marathons, 2:00 halfs...)

    But I started track workouts and my whole concept of who I was as a runner changed. I can't wait to see what my legs can do next!

  14. This is a very self reflective post for me. I am the same as you and am always challenging myself. It is difficult to keep pushing when we accomplish what we have set out to do, but pushing past our preconceived limits really teaches us to endure and become better and stronger people.

    Voted again!

  15. Great post. I really enjoyed reading it :) I know it may not seem like a huge barrier to a lot of people but for me it was STARTING to run. seriously if I look back to when I couldn't run more than 1 minute with out needing to walk till now - 3 miles last night at a 9min pace! I am FLOORED :D I couldn't be more proud of myself. I only wish I had started earlier in life as I'm already 28 so it'll be interesting to see what this body is capable of :) I vote for you every day!

  16. Voted! I never thought I'd be able to run 20 miles but I did it this weekend for the first time. This year is the year of the marathon for me, and I'm starting to believe that I can do it! The mental aspect has been the biggest challenge for me, and I think I've made great strides (ha ha) in that area. I'm seeing those changes positively impact other parts of my life too.

  17. This was me at the end of last year and early this year. I went from 10 minute miles to 8:30's and then came down with a nasty case of IT Band that I havent been able to shake. Now I'm back to running 10's. It's tough. I'm a really strong runner at heart. I'm hoping that's what counts.

  18. I love reading these inspirational stories of people doing things they never thought possible. While training is important, I think your mental state is a huge factor in racing and yours is clearly right where it needs to be (not that your training isn't!). I really want to get used to being uncomfortable get ok with racing HARD. I never thought I could run an ultramarathon, and now I've done two! I hope I can adopt your attitude and reach my full potential. I'm sure you'll do amazing things next year as well!

  19. I love the quotes--it's so true. I never want to be "too {fill in blank}" to do anything!

    And I voted again. From my work computer this time. I'll try to remember to vote again from the home computer when I get off work. :^)

  20. I voted (and will vote more). Sometimes I forget that there is so much more that I DO have control over than what I DON'T have control over. Thanks for the reminder!


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