Search This Blog

Realising potential

Scene from the Hunter Valley marathon
I took a chance this morning, and jogged 5km through the streets of Copa for my exercise.  My arch was a bit sore the whole way, maybe 3 out of 10 on my pain scale, just short of needing to scale back training.  The new insoles are definitely helping, but are not eliminating the pain.  Nevertheless, I'm a bit more optimistic about my running and will try another 5km tomorrow.

One consequence of wearing the new insoles is that they have an impact on my running gait, and I need to be careful not to get any other injuries.  Last night, I was jolted awake by a severe cramp in the arch of my left (good) foot and my quads have been aching this afternoon after what was a very short run this morning.

After the Trotters Saturday morning run yesterday, I was talking to one of my club-mates who was quite disappointed with his debut marathon time the previous weekend at Hunter Valley and his subsequent soreness.  I knew he had an interrupted preparation and also picked a tough course for his debut, and told him he should not be too hard on himself.  In my view, the interrupted preparation not only made the race harder for him, but meant that it took more out of his under-prepared body, increasing his post-run soreness.

A gap has opened between the best and the rest in marathons
I'm sure he will do much better at his next attempt, and voiced my opinion that to really get the best out of yourself in a marathon, you need to pick a race three or four months into the future and then train for it, ignoring the temptation to do well in every race that appeals to you in the interim.

There are many marathon and ultra trail and road races to choose from these days.  They are well organised and offer interesting and challenging courses.  Race anticipation and camaraderie is heightened by social media, making them immensely appealing and hard to resist.  Consequently, many runners like to compete in as many as possible.  I have tended to do the same myself in the twilight of my career, so would not criticise those who do the same.  However, I think this approach represents a cultural change in the running population, and means that many of today's runners, both elite and journeymen, never find out how good they could really be.

One result has been that, although more people are running long-distance events these days, the average performance standards have dropped.  At the "pointy end", the best athletes are running faster than ever and continue to improve, but a gap has opened between the elite and the rest of the field.  I think this may be because the runners with potential to fill this gap are more interested in the various running experiences offered, than in seeing just how good they could be, and applying the focus and training necessary to realise their full potential.  This is not a criticism, but I feel a certain sadness that many runners will never find out just how good they could be.