Knowing your limits is one thing, but pushing them to a new level is another. Many runners will test themselves regularly and have staple training runs that they use to gauge their fitness. It might be the monthly time trial over a familiar route, or the once in a blue moon hard Sunday effort where you punish yourself. But too often we become overly reliant on a routine. Yes, consistency is important and running on well-worn paths gives you something to compare your performance to. But this too can lead to never really taking things to the next level. Never stretching the figurative ‘Rubber band’ to breaking point.
It’s only at the absolute extremes of suffering that you get to know exactly what you’re capable of. You come to understand what it feels like when you’re nearing the verge of collapse. What’s more, you will know that come race day, when you start to feel this way that you need to relax and settle down in order to avoid exploding.
As you get older and have more weeks of running in your legs, you’ll have increased strength. This in turn generally means you also become more efficient in your mechanics and energy consumption, more resilient to injury and faster at recovering. So why not also look to extend your maximal exertion in training and not limit yourself to the same old, same old. Do something extraordinary once in a while. Run further than you ever have before. Leave the flat roads and head for the hills. Who knows, maybe by doing something a little different you’ll not only become a better athlete, but find a newfound love for your running!