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

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.


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

  • 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 image 

  • was that half a mile or ten?image

  • 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.



  • Oh bladdy 'ell! Opps.

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

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

  • 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. image

  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    Its possible to improve for around ten years. 


  • Stevie  GStevie G ✭✭✭

    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?

  • 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?"

  • Stevie  GStevie G ✭✭✭

    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? image

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

  • JoolskaJoolska ✭✭✭

    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).

  • 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

  • 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!image

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

  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    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.

  • 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 image

    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

  • Stevie  GStevie G ✭✭✭

    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....

  • Well that all goes to show your potential was far from fulfilled after two years of running - a shining example for RR to crack on and start running with some bigger fishimage

  • So gospel according to Ricf is 6-7 mins off my first 10k and 15 mins off my first HM. I would be happy with that.
  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    If you know what you doing, then its possible.

    Bearing in mind that most runners idea of training is 'run', 'run harder', run further', but pay lip service to all other aspects of the process such as 'recovery', 'hydration', 'nutrician', multi tier loading, macro & micro training cycles, climate and body fat%, and a few other things besides.

    Can you be bothered enough to put so much thought into the activity?

    Too much for most.

  • Thanks for all responses, have just checked back on this thread.

    Bit more info, I've been a regular runner for about 5 years, more of a plodder I'd say, logging miles 40-50 weekly. I started racing earlier on this year, now my weekly mileage is about 60 miles. Last year a hilly half marathon on road I ran it in 1.47 and this year, same course came in at 1.35.

    I like to point out that I don't think I'm super fast All Hail Me image as I know these are just local events I'm winning at, and if I were to be placed in an international event, then yeah, sure I'd be put in my place, however, one day I would love to compete at that level and was wondering if I ever could reach that potential. 


  • Just make sure you aren't doing any junnk miles. That you stick to a good training plan including speedwork and tempo runs. Decide what you want to achieve. What you think your best distance is and go for it

    I've heard that strengthening your core can help too especially xcountry running.

  • Stevie  GStevie G ✭✭✭

    Kelv, are you stealing those lines from somewhere? image

    Rebecca, it looks like you're not maximising 60miles a week. What is the breakdown of paces/sessions/miles in your average week?

  • How would you break 60 miles upvstevie g

  • Stevie  GStevie G ✭✭✭

    I'd go for something like this... depends if you are used to doubles, and obviously depends on the target distance, and what phase you're in...base through to peaking etc.

    The below also depends on you calculating your proper pace zones from your current fitness.

    • M     2x  short runs easy pace
    • T      Tempo, perhaps 6-7miles at Marathon pace (3m wu, 1m cd),  short 2nd run easy pace
    • W     Medium long easy pace run 8-10miles, possible 2nd run easy pace
    • T      DAY OFF
    • F    Track reps at appropriate paces, reps and recoveries (7-10miles whole session), 2nd run, short and easy pace
    • Sa   2x short runs easy pace
    • Su   long run 12-16miles
  • Hi Stevie G. To be honest, I do a lot of junk miles,I put no thought into what my next run will be, I just run and then spill my guts out when it comes to race,image no plan of pacing, just run the hardest I can, oh the ignorance image

    I always I have a long run of about 16-19 miles once a week.

  • Stevie G . wrote (see)

    Kelv, are you stealing those lines from somewhere? image

    Rebecca, it looks like you're not maximising 60miles a week. What is the breakdown of paces/sessions/miles in your average week?

    Yep, I unfortunately agree!

  • Stevie  GStevie G ✭✭✭

    well that's why you're doing 1hr 35 off a quite high mileage.

    Tweak it a bit and you'll be closer to 1hr 30 i'm certain....

    I'd suggest..(and it's up to you as it's your running life), that you do the below...

    • Use a recent fast road course as your current fitness.
    • work out your pace per mile for that distance
    • Use the MacMillan race calculator to give you a guide on other pace zones
    • Do the vast majority (all bar 2 runs a week) in easy zone
    • Work the tempo zone (between MP and HMP zones)
    • Work out track sessions based on targeted zones too.

    Just my 2pence worth image

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