Quick Tip: Stop Setting Limits-The Only Thing Stopping You is You!

Limits are an Illusion

“Limits, like fears, are often an illusion.”

~Michael Jordan

I suck sometimes.

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty good at telling myself that something is beyond my reach and then giving up the pursuit because something seems “impossible”.

How many times have I said I want to qualify for Boston? I’ve lost count, but just about every time I talk about it I also mention that I need to get older because the idea of running a sub-3:05 is pretty much impossible at this point.

I’ve told myself, over and over, that I’m incapable of achieving my goal until I get old enough that my qualifying time becomes more attainable.

I’ve placed limits on my ability, and I do it all the fricking time.

Some Things Clearly are Impossible

There’s a difference, at least in my mind, between setting limits to what you can achieve and impossibilities.



Point blank, some things are impossible.

As an example, I’m never going to qualify for the Olympics in the 100 m dash. It’s just not going to happen.

I can train my ass off, and I’m not going to be able to run 100 m in 10 seconds.

Sorry, but some things are definitely impossible.

Limits vs Impossibilities

When I’m talking about the limits that we set for ourselves, and our need to stop doing so, I’m talking about the things that we may not be able to do at the moment but are clearly within the realm of possibility.

Need some examples? Here are just a few that quickly come to mind:

  • I could never run a marathon.
  • I could never run a 100 mile race.
  • I could never run a 5k without stopping.
  • I could never start my own business.
  • I could never learn a new language.
  • I could never…

Hundreds, if not thousands, of people do things like these every day.

So clearly, they are possible. You may not be capable at the moment, and that’s ok, but to say you could NEVER is akin to setting limits on your potential.

And that needs to stop.

Be Honest, Then Surprise Yourself

Right now, I’m not capable of running a sub-3:05 marathon.

But that doesn’t mean I could never do it.

It’s important that we are honest with ourself about what our current limits are, but remain willing to do the work to push ourselves beyond our current limits.

I know that I’m capable of running a faster 26.2 than my current marathon PR.

I know it for a fact.


Yet I’m really hesitant to pick a time that I’m shooting for at Running with the Bears, because I don’t want to place a limit on myself.

Would I be happy with a 3:45? You bet! But what if I’m capable of running a 3:37 come race day? If I set 3:45 as the goal, aka the limit, for myself at that race would I be able to dig deep and come away with a 3:37 or just simply be content to run a 3:45?

I don’t know. And that is why I’m working hard to stop setting limits for myself and just let the chips fall where they may.

And I’d encourage you to do the same thing.

Honestly assess where you are currently, then go forward and do big things!

And in so doing, you might just surprise yourself along the way…

Stop setting arbitrary limits on yourself! #runchat #running Share on X

What Running Goals are Possibly Out of Your Reach, But Not Beyond the Realm of Possibility? 

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4 replies
  1. Pahla B
    Pahla B says:

    LOVE THIS!! It’s so true and just exactly what I think when I see those memes about nothing being impossible. Some things are TOTALLY not possible, but so what? I can still do more than I thought.
    I found (pretty recently) that when I stopped putting the limit of a goal time on myself that I actually ran much faster than I thought I could. I stopped chasing what I thought was “possible” and started just running hard. The result was 14 minutes off my marathon PR! 🙂 It’s all about clearing that negative self-talk.

  2. Elizabeth Clor
    Elizabeth Clor says:

    This is a fantastic post. I think many runners set limits for themselves without even realizing they are doing it– they just see it as fact/reality. Can’t wait to see you crush that marathon PR.

    • Denny
      Denny says:

      Thanks Elizabeth! It’s easy enough to set those limits on ourselves, so hopefully this post will help some others as well.


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