I don't know why, but I was thinking about this as I ran today. Not the entire above paragraph, which I cribbed from Wikipedia, where the author no doubt cribbed it from somewhere else, but the overall concept of a limiting factor, which must have bubbled up from my subconscious from some long-forgotten high school class.
A limiting factor or limiting resource is a factor that controls a process, such as organism growth or species population, size, or distribution. The availability of food, predatation pressure, or availability of shelter are examples of factors that could be limiting for an organism. An example of a limiting factor is sunlight in the rainforest, where growth is limited to all plants in the understory unless more light becomes available.
A number of potential factors could influence a biological process, but importantly only one is limiting at any one place and time. This recognition that there is always a single limiting factor is vital in ecology; and the concept has parallels in numerous other processes.Some other limiting factors in biology are water availability, temperature, shelter, or predation.
As I ran 8.5 miles today to try to save another week of running in which I fell short of my trainin plan, I wondered would be my limiting factor. The first 2.5 miles of my route were uphill, and my calves hurt very early in the run. Will that be my limiting factor?
Will it be my knees? I do think they'll be the body parts that will eventually derail my running career, after all.
Will it be endurance? Today I saw myself start out too fast for the conditions I was running, which probably contributed to the pain in my legs. I'm going to need to get better at pacing myself. If I start out too quickly, I'll exhaust myself far short of the finish line, and if I go too slowly, I'll die of boredom. I think as my time approaches or exceeds the 5-hour mark, motivation is going to decrease.
Will it be effort? As work gets busier, it's harder and harder to find time for a lunchtime run. As weather gets sloppier, I find a reason to not head down to the track or out for a late afternoon/evening run. And getting up early for a run has become a thing of the past. I was supposed to run four miles on Monday, go to the track workout Tuesday, four miles on Wednesday, and seven on Thursday (today). I ran four on Monday, skipped the Tuesday workout because I learned that they wouldn't be on the track due to weather (but the training group was still meeting), didn't run at all on Wednesday, and then did try to come back with a good run today.
I don't want it to be effort. I can't control injuries, weather, or how busy I am at work. But I can do better at sticking to the training plan. There was nothing stopping me from hopping on the treadmill for a half hour or so on Tuesday or Wednesday because ANYTHING would have been better than the nothing I did. I'm in a little bit of a rut here. I'm not going to always be able to flaunt my training plan and come back with a good long run if I don't follow it more closely most weeks. I've got to be more consistent. Use the treadmill if I have to. Get up early. Run at night.
In two months from today, I have to run 10.2 miles farther than I've ever ran before. Failure is a distinct possibility, but I don't want it to be because I didn't try hard enough.
I think this is also a pretty strong signal that I should start running with my Shuffle again.