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Digital Subscriptions > Men's Running > Jan-17 > MAIL

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mrletters@wildbunchmedia.co.uk/

mensrunningmagazineuk

@mensrunninguk

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◼ PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

In January 2014, I began life as a primary school headteacher and needed something to help deal with the challenges that the role brings. I chose running. Just over two and a half years later I have just secured my first top-10 finish in a local 10K race, but can’t help feel I could have done better. If only I’d put more into my hill sessions... If only I’d maintained three training runs a week... If only I’d not gone off quite as fast... If only I’d pushed harder at the end... If only I could stop myself thinking this way! Running has brought me so much positivity in such little time, but it still has that negativity element of “I could have done better.” I don’t think you can ever stop that, but you can choose what to do about those thoughts. My response is to: a) make changes to my training and trial the use of a heart-rate monitor and b) sit back and think, “Wow, I secured a top-10 place!”

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About Men's Running

We all think we’re giving 100% in races. But watching some elite athletes, their faces contorted in late-race agony, I can’t help but ask myself: how hard am I really trying? In Matt Fitzgerald’s How Bad Do You Want It? – a brilliant book with a toe-curlingly bad title – he writes about our ‘unreachable physical limit’. That’s not to say we are all super-athletes of unlimited potential. Quite the opposite: we are all wimps unwilling to break free from our mind-forged manacles. It is not the body that slows us down, but the brain. The bravest athletes – the Prefontaines, Radcliffes and Brownlees – get closer to their physical limit than most. The rest of us? My guess is that we rarely realise more than 80% of our physical potential. Yet we can, with consistent training and iron-willed determination, walk a little further along those hot coals. Perhaps not as far as Radcliffe or Brownlee, but further than we’ve ever gone before. It’s a theme that David Smyth explores further in the month’s ‘Suffer club’ article on page 60, speaking with some of these athletes about how they’re able to push themselves to their very limits. So next time you find yourself in a race, telling yourself the same old lie that you’re trying your hardest, be brave and ask yourself honestly: can I give more? The answer is, inevitably, yes.
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