1442How to PB

How to PB

Yesterday I ran a sub-20 minute 5km for the first time.While it sounds underwhelming when stated as factually as that, it is something I have been aspiring to for the past 2 and a half years. Up until a couple of months ago, however, it was something I honestly did not believe my body was capable of.

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Looking back, it has struck me that I have often been guilty of a lack of self-belief; viewing certain times as unattainable based on nothing more than the fact I wasn’t capable of achieving it at that particular moment in time. When I first started road running in early 2010, I was consistently running 5 kilometres in under 25 minutes. I had aspirations for a 21 minute 5km, but I convinced myself that I would never be capable of running the distance in under 20 minutes. When I ran my first ever 10km event in October 2010, I completed the race in 46:47. While I set myself a goal to break the 45 minute mark, I thought of this as a fixed goal; as if, upon breaking that, I would have run as fast at that distance as was possible for my physique and build.
In October 2011, when I ran my first ever marathon, I missed out on my sub-4 hour target by just under two minutes. Beyond the obvious pride of completing a marathon, I was hugely disappointed at falling just short of my goal. That disappointment made me more determined than ever to break the four hour barrier in my next marathon. In December 2011 I finished the Las Vegas marathon in 03:50:48. This was the first inkling I had that I was capable of achieving more than I allowed myself to hope for. As I write this, I have run 5km in 19:24, 10km in 41:35 and a marathon in 03:37:38. The point of this post is that you are capable of far more than you know.  

Here is why.

Everyone has an eye on a goal they feel is physically just out of reach. A goal they think is only achieved by people that are taller, or skinnier, or slighter of frame, or have longer legs. It’s a great excuse: ‘well of course they ran that time, they’re built for it’. Here’s the thing; that time is not out of reach. You are capable of it. Whether it’s a sub-25 minute 5km or a sub-2 hour half marathon, if you think that you whenever you give it everything you have you always fall short, it’s key to remember that your body is simply operating as best it can in its current state. This state is changeable based upon three key variables that you have control over.   1)    Mileage - It seems obvious, but it’s not until you get consistent, significant mileage, of varied distance and pace, that you will really start to see the benefits. I was running 10km between two or three times a week in 2011. I thought that was a lot at the time, but my training plan for the 2012 Chicago marathon introduced regular, weekly long runs that helped me see significant improvement and a greater understanding of pace.   2)    Weight Loss - The intention of my marathon training was not to lose weight, but as I began clocking up 30-40 miles a week, weight-loss became a byproduct of the work I was putting in. I had plateaued during my training for Chester marathon in 2011, and even gained a bit between the Las Vegas and Disney World marathons, after plateauing for the previous year. In total I lost about 2.5kg in doing so. While it may not seem a lot, the combination of the mileage I was putting in together with this weight loss made a huge difference on my speed.   3)    Mental Strength - Not an easy one to attain if you struggle with it, but the combination of points 1 and 2 will begin to pay off, which in turn will increase your self-belief and confidence. This is key.  The last ten months have gone to prove that my body is capable of far more than I ever thought. While I won’t be challenging Mo Farah any time soon, the hard work I put in this year has lifted the glass ceiling I had subconsciously set, and forced me to reevaluate any goals I set myself in the future.   My next event is the Washington DC marathon in March 2013 and I’m aiming to break the 03:30 mark. Can I achieve it? The answer to that I don’t know; but the one thing I do know is that I refuse to rule it out.

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