What does “I can’t” really mean?

The other day, one of my brothers’ colleagues said to me, “I heard you run marathons”. To which I said, “Yes, that’s true”. He then said something like, “How do you do that? I can’t even run 8km without barfing!”

I am confident that any endurance athlete will have a story or 10, about someone asking them, “How do you run a marathon?” or “How do you do a triathlon?” etc. I find this question difficult to answer because it’s pretty simple. You put in time, effort and train for your endurance sport of choice, and then you do it. There is no magic. Regardless of the response, it is typically followed by something like, “I could never do that!”

But how can you know for certain that you CAN’T do something if you never try? You see, the choice of language, “I can’t” cannot be interpreted literally.

It can mean:

“I don’t want to”.

“I have never tried”.

“That seems daunting, I’m scared just thinking about it”.

Etc.

It can also mean:

“I am not trained to..”

“I can’t…TODAY”.

These two statements are true of endurance athletes too, the ability to complete a marathon or triathlon requires training, it’s not just something you up and do on a random afternoon (typically). Even people who are seasoned endurance athletes go through periods of un-fitness, and times where they aren’t prepared to complete long events. Training is hard, there’s no question, it involves prioritizing, organization, and dedication. Just because something doesn’t come easy, doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It means it’s going to take time and effort.

Saying you “can’t” is limiting yourself, putting a box around a goal and saying no without ever fighting for it. I believe this can become a self-fulfilling prophecy because if you have it in your head that you are unable to do something, you probably won’t try to do it. Even though it’s more than likely that this goal would be attainable if the necessary effort was put forth. There are very few things someone actually “can’t” do so long as a goal is set, and we give ourselves the time and tools to complete it.

You may have heard of a tool called S.M.A.R.T goals. It can be used for any type of goal, personal, professional, athletic or other.

S: is for specific.

M: is for measurable.

A: is for achievable.

R: is for relevant.

T: is for time bound.

Using SMART goals is helpful because it keeps you accountable. Sometimes the difference between meeting a goal or not is realizing it by saying it or writing it out etc. Sometimes the difference can be the language we use, for example, “I can’t” vs. “I can’t right now” or “I’m working towards…”

Anyone who can was previously someone who couldn’t. The only difference between those who can and those who can’t, is that those who can are willing to try, willing to potentially fail in pursuit of being able to accomplish their goal. We aren’t born with the inherent ability to do many things, let alone run a marathon. Some of us choose to spend our time training in order to run them. So before you say “I can’t” do something, ask yourself, “Have I ever put forth the effort required to meet this goal? Seriously, have I?” If the answer is no, don’t say “I can’t”.

Training Recap May 14-20, 2018

I went into this week feeling anxious since I had 3-days off in a row due to being sick. In the grand scheme of things missing 2 runs is not the end of the world, but any runner will agree, missing 2 runs in a row does not feel good. It was the right call though to rest and get healthy! This week I completed all my runs and nailed a big workout, further evidence the rest was the right decision.

Monday: I ran 10km with my dad, it felt difficult after 3 days off, but that’s to be expected. I also did core and upper body.

Tuesday: My dad and I ran another 10km, different route though. It felt better than the previous day! I also did core.

Wednesday: WO day, first one in a week. It was: 20′ easy, 2×16′ as: 4’@HM, 3′ easy, 1’@10km, 4′ easy, 4’@HM, 20′ easy. It was freaking windy, so that made it a bit harder, and probably coming back from a cold made it hard too, this felt tougher than normal, but I got through it. I hit this in the morning because I had the Saucony Run Your World event in the evening, a 5km downtown during rush-hour. I tested out the new Saucony Ride ISO’s during the run and they felt great!

Thursday: 45′ easy, this was a slog after my double-run day, but I anticipated that and embraced the relaxed pace. I also did core.

Friday: 30′ easy, this was a little shakeout since I had a big WO on deck the next day.

Saturday: This was the largest WO I have done since Boston training, I was a little nervous about it, but am happy to report I executed without any issues. The WO was: 20′ easy, 5km@5:05, 4km@4:56, 3km@4:50, 2km@4:39, 12′ easy. When I woke up it was pouring rain, and I haven’t run in rain or poor weather since Boston. I was not feeling getting soaked, so I checked AccuWeather, saw when the rain was predicted to stop and waited until then to run. I have never done that before, and it’s funny to me that I did since I lived in the PNW for the last 4-years, but hey. I also did upper body and core.

Sunday: 90′ easy, I ran an OG “long-run” route out to Sugar Beach and back. It used to feel like a big accomplishment when I ran this 16km route back in the day. Today it felt like it ended quickly, I must be a marathoner…

Total Weekly Mileage: 87.1km

Training Recap May 7-13, 2018

Last week started with an early wake-up call, 5am, in order to catch my flight from Vancouver to Toronto. Luckily, I checked my email when I awoke to find out the flight had been delayed by 4 hours. I made it to Toronto later that day, and have been there ever since. I had a moderate week of training on deck post-BMO half and was looking forward to it. However, it seemed a combination of not being at home (staying at a friends and then an Airbnb) and not sleeping well wore me down. Shortly after arriving to Toronto I developed a nasty cold preventing me from running at all over the weekend, missing out on a WO and long-run. Not what I wanted, but I have done my best to embrace resting, and plan to get back out there today!

Here is what I did last week…

Monday: OFF. Nothing. Travel day.

Tuesday: 45′ easy, ran around the beach for an out and back, sun was out, beautiful day. I also did core.

Wednesday: Workout day, 20′ easy, 20’@5:30 (actual 5:21), 10’@ 5:20 (actual 5:04), 10’@5:10 (actual 5:00), 10′ easy. Something is off with my Garmin, the pace shows as way slower than it is, and once it laps for the km, the true (faster) pace flashes on the screen. I also did core.

Thursday: 50′ easy, a loop up to Broadview and Dundas and back along the water.

Friday: OFF.

Saturday: Supposed to be a WO, but sick.

Sunday: Supposed to be 100′ easy, but sick.

Total Weekly Mileage: 31km

Training Recap April 30-May 6, 2018

This was my last week in BC. I made sure to run in all my favourite places sinceI won’t be back for a while. It was definitely bittersweet. I ended my week with a race in my favourite city, Vancouver. I signed up pretty last minute, but it was an excellent decision. It was a beautiful day for a half-marathon and a perfect see ya later to the west coast. It’s funny how a half can feel SO short when you have been marathon training for essentially a year and a half. That said, it may not have felt so short if I was racing it instead of pacing a running buddy!

Here’s what I did this week..

Monday: 30′ easy, I ran an out-and-back from work to the ocean in Vic West.

Tuesday: OFF.

Wednesday: Group WO, 20′ easy, 3×5′ (the pace was supposed to be super chill 5:10, but it ended up being between 4:38-4:45) 25′ easy. I thought I was going to be in trouble because of the pace, but it means I’m feeling GOOD so all good. I was also talking the whole time and it felt very comfortable. I also did core.

Thursday: 40′ easy, Jo and I went for a midday run on Dallas rd, definitely my favourite run view in Victoria.

Friday: OFF. I did core.

Saturday: 30′ easy, I tested out my warm-up to the start. I finished it at Bows and Arrows for an americano. I also did core.

Sunday: 10′ easy, BMO half-marathon. I ran my warm-up to the start and then ran with my friend Tay who PB’d!

Total Weekly Mileage: 53.5 km

My next run will be in Toronto!