How do you know when you've reached your full potential?

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05/07/2013 at 16:20
Last year, even though I ran quite a lot of miles, I wasn't really running competitively, however, this year, I've surprised myself and have won a lot of local races (yay) I lost a few lbs along the way but I'm whether it's because I was racing more or the weight lost that helped get my times down, combination of both maybe? Aaaanyway, these are only local races in which I'm winning, but would really like to improve my times even more, just wondering if I've reached my full potential now and that's my limit, how can you tell, I'm 23 if that's any thing to go by.
05/07/2013 at 16:27
Jo Pavey was still hitting PBs last year and she is nearly 40 (I think)
Lots of distance runners don't peak until they are in their 30's
05/07/2013 at 16:28

I guess it would help if you would tell us the distances and the times...

05/07/2013 at 16:33

Ok, for a hard XC course I've done recently, I came in at 38.02 1st female first male was 32.67 and he's fast  

05/07/2013 at 16:39

was that half a mile or ten?

05/07/2013 at 16:41

Can you ever really tell?

Clearly some people have the potential to become Olympic Champions and some don't.

Pretty much everything else in between depends on so many variables: how much natural talent you have, your natural biomechanics and inherited genes, how dedicated you are, how often you run, what age you were when you started, how old you are now, how many injuries you've suffered, which ones and how serious.



05/07/2013 at 16:42

Oh bladdy 'ell! Opps.

It was 5.3 HARD miles  did I metion, HARD, hilly HARD miles 

05/07/2013 at 17:25

Yes, you've reached your potential. It's all downhill from here - I wouldn't bother any more. Second will be nowhere after this.

05/07/2013 at 19:00

Hey rebecca,

what other races have you won?? That was only one race so can't really comment on your potential.

still a fairly good time obviously. 

05/07/2013 at 19:27

Its possible to improve for around ten years. 


05/07/2013 at 19:38

Rebecca, why would you think you're at your peak a couple of years in?

Train consistently, and with a good mileage for years and years and you won't even remember these days. And you'll be able to pick much better standard races to compete in.

What are your road times currently?

05/07/2013 at 20:13

I think. and no disrespect to anyone here. But you should be asking an expert like a running coach what they think. We don't know you, we haven't seen your running form. We haven't seen your split times for the race or anything.

There is always room for improvement. You just have to be prepared to put the hard work in. Sometimes you need someone else to give you that push 

Remember that a lot of people put fast times on here and funnily enough a lot of them can't prove that they have done that time. So people are very skeptical and dissaproving when people ask "is this time quick?" or " can I get any better?"

05/07/2013 at 20:20

Kelv, do you need to be an expert to tell a 23 year old with a couple of years of what probably isn't highly structured high mileage that she can  improve?

Also, you've presumed none of us have even a  jot of coaching experience  

05/07/2013 at 20:54

I've won local races and I'm definitely not a good runner.  It's the classic big fish in a small pond thing (parkruns spring to mind!).  Personally, I'd rather finish 100th in a pb than 1st in a poor time.  Mind you, I've been running for 12 years and have definitely not fulfilled whatever potential I do have, as I'm still setting PBs now, quite possibly because I finally managed to string together a winter of base training without getting injured...  

OP: if you haven't done any road races, see how the girls who finish close to you are doing on the road, and see where that puts them in the national rankings (try for a bit of cyber-stalking).

05/07/2013 at 21:11

or you can completely dissapoint yourself like i did and go to lol. Cracking website. 

I realised how slow my time was at a 5 mile race. But then realised how fast the winners time was and that he had run the 10th fastest time in the uk this year. So the field was very competitive. Didn't quite excuse my 88th place

05/07/2013 at 21:24

I read that actual age doesn't make much difference, it's more to do with running age in years.  The article I read said its a combination of around 10 years / 10000 hours/ number of races.  So with club coaching and guidance Running Rebecca could have a lot of potential.  Also depends of your goals, perhaps try a few road races and see how they go.  Kelvin, don't be hard on yourself, even Mo Farahs reckons we can improve!

05/07/2013 at 21:52

How can you tell what your potential is?  Just keep striving to better yourself.

05/07/2013 at 22:12

I like to think that after 25 years of interest in this running lark, I know slightly more about the subject than most.

The subject of potential is a classic minefield where the variables involved in realising that potential are so wide ranging as to render the question of 'how good can I be' almost irrelevant.

If pushed I would say that if 'not over weight' to start with; if you trained for 12 weeks and then ran a test race, then whatever that result was, you could improve upon it by maybe 20%.

My first race was a 88:33 HM after 17 weeks from scratch. Ten years later I managed 73:43 off less than optimum training.

Its not a bad guess-a-mate. A top distance runner would run a 10k in 33/34 minutes off almost no training. 27 minutes is their destiny.

Edited: 05/07/2013 at 22:13
05/07/2013 at 22:38

Wow, so not only did SG run a 1:28 in his 1st HM (off a bit of footy training), but now I read  RicF did as well. I ran a 1:28 for my first, so have put all that into my guess-a-mate calculator thingy. Suddenly feeling optimistic for 2022

As everyone has said, a 2 year window to reach your potential would either be the stuff of dreams, or lead to some very short running careers. Just expect those improvements to get harder and harder to achieve. RR we are both on the steep part of the improvement curve (less than 2 years for me too) . Enjoy the early gains before diminishing returns bites at your ankles

05/07/2013 at 22:56

That was 2 years in AlsoRan.

I did 1:41:38 for my first half. Yes it was hilly and very hot, and I did 1hr 34 the next month, but still....

Edited: 05/07/2013 at 22:58
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