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104: How Fast Can I Get Fast?

Sep 05, 2019

 If you sit in on a conversation with a group of runners, it will not take long before the discussion of personal records comes up.  Naturally, that discussion is followed by some personal thoughts that are often based in comparison. One of those thoughts tends to be:  how fast could I get that fast?

On this episode we discuss personal records, PR’s, PB’s and goals overall.  Running, with all of its timed results and certified courses, looks like an easily objectifiable sport.  This makes comparisons popular and makes the difference between 2:00:01 and 1:59:59 far larger than non-runners can fathom.  

First, new runners are surrounded by personal records.  Every new race is a best, and every long training run is the longest.  This makes the sport very enticing at the beginning. Eventually, all runners must face the dreaded plateau. 

Veteran runners may have reached a seemingly insurmountable wall blocking them from ever reaching another record.  At this point, they will generally give up on chasing the records or double down on their training until they are broken, frustrated and completely burnt out.  

Option one:  doubt the possibility of reaching the dream.  The more often someone tries and misses, the greater the goal will feel and the more excuses will show up.  We name ourselves only a slow runner, not built like a faster runner, unable to train enough. We built up a litany of reasons we could never reach the goal, which infects our commitment to the goal, which naturally leads to poor training and missing the goal again.  

Option two:  feeling buried, try digging deeper.  Some athletes will see how close the goal is and throw out all the stops in their training.  They increase overall volume, long run length, number of workouts, intensity of speed days, stack strength onto workouts, push the pace on easy days.  Essentially, they lose any sort of balance between easy and hard and grind themselves to a drained shell. They also miss the PR. In all of the training, they never thought to consider the strength of the mind.  They never realized that small tweaks, or even repeated plans season over season can gain greater results. 

So how fast can you actually become fast?  If those two options sound terrible, or sound like a terrible path you have already ran down, consider another way.  Actually think about your goal and your training.  

  • Examine what the plan was that got you to your current state.  Was it just building mileage? Was it whole body? Did it include mental training?
  • What does the new training look like?  Is it focused on your specific race and your goal time?  Are you still building general fitness? Have you actually accepted that the goal is possible?
  • How bad do you want it?  Reaching a major time goal will be painful, are your fully prepared to accept that pain?  Are you sabotaging because you do not want to feel the pain again?
  • Why do you have a faster goal?  Is there a comparison? Is the number just convenient because of the zeros?  Who are you trying to impress and what are you trying to prove? Why is this important?  

Your desire for the result and the effort you put into achieving the result is connected to why the goal exists in the first place.  Until you deeply consider these questions, you probably are not going to crush that PR.  



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