Have you ever run a 4.oo minute mile? Neither have I.
Can you blow out 300W of power continuously for a 3 mile climb? – Nope.
I respect and applaud all of you, who, like me are out there each and every day… we are trying our best, we are working and sweating hard; but it wasn’t in the cards for us to be even remotely close to elite status. Why is that and should that matter?
Tim was a 40 something accomplished teacher. Not long ago Tim had given up on running. His knee ached, but the pain was not severe enough for him to have to curtail his activities. His training seemed appropriate. He took his recovery seriously and appeared to be sleeping well. I sensed that he was anxious about his lack of running… his emotions seemed to rise to the level of great frustration.
Pitchers are not created… they are born, then nurtured. Same goes for an elite cyclist or runner. Sure, you can hone your skills and knock minutes off your times, but you’re not leaping to another class.
I love long runs. I particularly enjoy long rail runs. I train on hills, I put in my time, I jump on boxes and grunt and squat 3 nights a week. How well do I perform on my trail races? I finish :-). Standing, smiling and feeling good. Sure, I might PR, but it’s still an least 20 minutes behind the winner in my age group.
Tim initially scheduled his consultation to evaluate his knee. In order to give an injury a personality and put it into context I often delve into your activities. When Tim mentioned he was a runner his eyes lit up .. but that fire was quickly extinguished. We explored this for a while. He was very frustrated that his times weren’t improving as much as he felt they should have. His love of running was losing to his desire to perform. I get it. I’ve been there.
I’m genetically challenged … I shared with Tim. Part truth, partly a good excuse, I ran through a number of reasons why Tim might not be hitting his goals. A big one does happen to be genetics. Your genetics determines your muscles type. It determines if your more likely to be be a a sprinter or an endurance athlete. It determines your muscle overall muscle volume. It determines if your heart will respond to training and it determines your VO2 max or aerobic capacity. Your genetics has a lot to do with just how happy you will be if your desire is to be an elite anything.
At the conclusion of our visit, I wasn’t sure that I had helped Tim. Perhaps he was somewhat comforted by the fact that he was achieving what his body could — but that might have been my own bias at work. We all want to believe that we can help others.
Hopefully you are able to train, compete and enjoy your chosen aerobic activities. Go ahead, train as hard as you want… but train smart, recover well, sleep 8 hours and have realistic goals set for your efforts. Your DNA has a lot of influence on just how far your efforts will take you.
And Tim… I saw him running through the park with his dog the other day :-).
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