Racing The Limits

Getting older can change your views on things. I've definitely questioned why I compete in ultra distance races. Mainly when I'm into a long run that isn't feeling good and I wonder why I'm not a sprinter. Do I just keep running because that's what I've always done or am known for? Is there really more to it?
It has been clear that I haven't got the genetics for the elite world stage. However, I am definitely built to run. So what is it that keeps me training and racing?
I know my reasons have changed and evolved over time, but I'll skip the retrospective introspection. Right now I love exploring my limits. This could be done in so many ways, but running is the medium that feels right. Running adds to my life. It is important to note a change in my thinking compared to my younger years. I used to think that sacrifice was a highly important ingredient to get the most out of myself in sport. Now at the end of my 30's and with a family, I don't believe there is requirement for sacrifice. Running adds to my life and I definitely do not want it to take away from important elements in my world.
An overriding caveat for my training is it needs to add to my life and not impose negatively. In my younger years I would have considered this a limitation, but not any more. I need to get enough sleep, I need to remain healthy and I have to be involved in family life. Therefore my training is in a style and at a level that keeps me happy, healthy and progressing, rather than constantly running right at the edge of abilities leaving me too stuffed to do much else. Would I be faster in races if I could dedicate 30 hours each week versus 7-10 hours? More than likely I would, but chances are I won't want to continue that for an extended period. Plus I enjoy the challenge of seeing how much I can get out of myself within the framework of my life at the moment.
This all means I take a very deliberate approach to my training. There are clear goals leading the direction of each training session. This doesn't mean I run fast in every run, rather I try and stick to eliciting a certain outcome that leads towards me racing better in my main races. The aim is squeeze out as much improvement as I can within the so-called limits of my training. It means the details are important. Of course this theory is easier to say than do, but even if I don't get it all right, it will be more effective than just going out and running how I feel and hope for improvement. I like to think I can get more out of 80km/week with deliberate training, than out of 140km of haphazard, just going through the motions.

What about racing?

Big races are the ultimate to me. This is where I test what I can achieve. I really enjoy racing, but just going back and going faster over the shorter distance races no longer appeals to me as much. My desire is to push my limits beyond just the physical. There is something to be said for pushing my mental limits in the setting where failure is a real possibility that really draws me in. It is the ultra distance races that fill this need. 100km of hard terrain has a way of breaking you down to the absolute basics. I will keep racing some short events for the fun element, but to truly get the most out of myself I will target some more epic adventures.


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