What is the difference between ability and capacity?
Running is not just a physical challenge; it's a journey of the mind and spirit that demands as much mental strength as it does physical endurance. In our latest podcast episode, we explore this intricate dance between mind and body, delving into how we can break the chains of self-doubt and unleash our true potential.
We make a critical distinction between ability and capacity. These two concepts, though often used interchangeably, are vastly different in the realm of running and personal growth. Ability refers to the skills and proficiency you possess at any given moment, the result of your training and experiences up to that point. Capacity, on the other hand, is the potential within you, often untapped and boundless.
We believe that capacity is infinite; if you can dream it, there's a path to achieve it. This realization can be liberating, allowing you to dream big without the constraints of your current ability.
However, it's crucial to understand that your current ability might be limited. The key to progress is training within your ability while slowly expanding it to reach your capacity. We see many runners train above their current level, leading to injury and disappointment.
To avoid this, we discuss how to set intelligent, incremental goals that respect your body's limits while challenging you to grow.
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This is the Real Life Runners podcast, episode number 340, Ability vs Capacity. If you're looking for ways to bring more joy into your running and you want to be a physically and mentally stronger runner, you're in the right place.Kevin:
This is the Real Life Runners podcast, and we're your hosts, kevin and Angie Brown. Thanks for spending some time with us today. Now let's get running.Angie:
What's up runners? Welcome to the podcast. Today we're going to be talking about a really cool concept that we started to discuss and have been discussing inside of our five day running challenge this week. If you haven't signed up yet, it's still not too late. Okay, today's Thursday, the day that we released this episode, we are in the middle of our brand new five day running challenge, teaching you how to run a faster half marathon in 2024. So if you have not yet signed up, go sign up fivedayrunningchallengecom so that you can get the daily emails. You can join us live throughout the week. You can get coached and get all of your questions answered. And today we wanted to dig a little bit deeper into one of the concepts that we started talking about on day one. So, throughout the course of this week, we've been talking about the five most critical ingredients that you need in order to run a faster half marathon and also the five biggest mistakes that runners make. And the number one most critical ingredient that you need to run a faster half marathon is your mind, is the thoughts or are the thoughts and beliefs that you have about running and about your current ability of achieving your goal. And so, in our day one call. We dug into this concept of ability versus capacity and we wanted to dive a little bit deeper. So, even if you've been joining us this week on our five day challenge, first of all, thank you, because we love interacting. We've had so much fun with all of our challengers this week interacting with you guys. So thanks for showing up for yourself, thanks for showing up for the community and taking part in this challenge. But even if you have been a part of the challenge, we want to want you to know that today's episode is still going to be very beneficial, because we're going to take these concepts a little bit deeper than we were able to do on day one, because, obviously, on day one of the challenge, we're talking about a lot of different things. We're interacting with you guys, and so we wanted to go a little bit deeper on this concept because it's a very, very important one.Kevin:
Yeah, I mean it's a brilliant concept and when we first started diving into some like yeah, we, we should kind of expand this. You can definitely go deeper, come up with some, some more I don't know connection and metaphors and examples of this thing that we can really understand the difference between ability and capacity and flesh this out so so it kind of sticks and is not just a one day thing.Angie:
Yeah, and this is a concept that I was really introduced to by some a couple of my coaches of you know some of the the life coaches that I learned from and that I considered to be mentors in my life and taking this idea and really applying it to running is really really cool, cause this is one of the things that I love doing as a coach. As a running coach is really taking concepts from other areas, like life coaching or religion, or just self development in general, or physical therapy, or all sorts of areas that I am interested in and love to learn about, and applying them to running to help us to become stronger runners, to become faster runners, to live a healthier life. And so let's talk about what is the difference between ability and capacity. Okay, so first we want to talk about what is capacity. So capacity is that you are capable of anything that you desire.Kevin:
So that's like the bigger, more nebulous thing of if, if I can dream it, I can do it. I saw that on a poster one time, so that that's must be true, that is definitely true, but it is.Angie:
And I think that one of the mistakes that we often make as runners is not believing in ourselves. Right, we, we have maybe these bigger goals or we think about these things that would be really cool to do, and then we pull back because we're like, yeah, that's probably for someone else, I probably, I'm probably not capable of achieving that.Kevin:
Yeah, the difference between this really big, cool goal and just sort of a thought that you have a fleeting thought of that's a cool thing. But then by the time you go to try and nail it down as that's a cool thing that you're going to do, that's a goal that you're going to strive for, it gets a little too scary. You pull back and you're like that might not be for me. I'm going to pull back and come over with something a little bit more reasonable, a little bit more in my wheelhouse or something I'm more comfortable with. And capacity is where you get to have those huge, giant dreams, where you put it out there like that is really crazy, but I thought about it. So what if I did try and strive for that thing? That's what capacity is all about.Angie:
Right, and a lot of times, when we pull back from the things that we actually want to do, we end up feeling unfulfilled, or we end up feeling disappointed in ourselves or guilty that we're not chasing our dreams, or it just doesn't feel good right, because it feels really freeing and really exhilarating when we are out there chasing our dreams and doing hard things. And I think that this is one of the things that so many people hold themselves back from, because there's that either fear of failure or just lack of belief that they're capable of achieving those things.Kevin:
I think that your spot on there. I think that fear of failure is a really big one. Sometimes people set the goal and they have that moment of hesitation where it's like, oh I'm not sure if that's going to be something that I can really go for, and instead of leaning into the question of possibility, they lean into the negative fear of what if it doesn't go well, what if I fail? What if I can't do it? And start spiraling that direction instead of just leaving open the possibility of what if I strived for it? What if I gave it a shot and see how close I can get? You know, dream big and then just keep climbing towards the thing. What's the line about? Shoot for the stars.Angie:
Shoot for the star, or if you shoot for the moon, you'll land within the stars.Kevin:
There you go.Angie:
Right. So what we want you guys to understand is that your capacity is infinite. Okay, if you have the desire, you already have the capacity. And this is something that I've learned again from a lot of different coaches and mentors that I have worked with and learned from, and it was such an interesting concept to me If you have the desire, if you actually want something, you automatically have the capacity to achieve that thing, because God, or the universe or source or the higher power that you believe in, would not give you that desire or would not allow you to have that desire if it was something that you weren't actually capable of. And you know, sometimes people like to fight this and like, well, you know, I can't be anything that I want to be, like be all that you want to be. Or you know you can do anything or be anything that you want to be. And it's like, well, I couldn't go play in the NBA. And it's like, yeah, that's true. Like I am a 43 year old woman, that is five, three. And you are correct, if I went right now and tried out for the NBA, I could not make the team. Come on, mugsy Bogues, you got this. I mean, I used to think I was like Mugsy Bogues when I played high school basketball. For sure, but I have no desire to try out for an NBA team. I do not have the desire to play in the NBA, so that You're right, I don't have the capacity because I also don't have the desire for that. But if you have a genuine desire to accomplish something, I truly believe that you also then have the capability to achieve that thing, because you're capable of achieving anything you want as long as you do the right things, like so you have the right actions and give yourself the right timeline.Kevin:
And that timeline kind of messes with people. Sometimes they're like, oh no, I've done all the steps I put in the work to do this thing and I still don't have the results. And it's like, well, maybe you just don't have the results yet, maybe your timeline was a little bit aggressive on that and you need to be a little bit more patient. And that's where really having that strong desire helps you hang on, because sometimes it takes some time to reach these huge I'll say audacious goals that you put out. There is I want to achieve this giant thing. That's super scary and I'm not sure I'm ever going to do it. And I'd also like to do it within the next three months, within the next. Like it has to happen in 2024. Like you don't have to have that limit that the timeline can kind of stretch.Angie:
Yeah, and I think that this is one of the really powerful things that if we start to adopt this belief of it's okay if I get the timeline wrong, it's really, really freeing, because just because you didn't achieve the goal the first time you tried it, or the second time, or the fifth time or the 10th time, still does not mean that you are not capable. It just means that maybe you haven't trained the right way, maybe you haven't given yourself the right timeline, maybe you haven't done the things that you need to do in order to be able to achieve that goal right. You still have the capacity to do it, and just because you haven't done it yet does not actually take that capacity away.Kevin:
Yeah, that whole timeline thing. I feel like there's a lot of runners that give push back to this because they're like, okay, but every time I miss the goal and I need to, like, recover from that big race and then have another training cycle. I'm getting a little bit older and that's reducing my, my chances, because as I get older and I maybe I'm getting slower and I feel like that's just this thought that people are putting out there, that you have to get slower as as you get older, I think that you can hang on and and literally get faster in fourth, fifth decade. You can continue to improve. As long as you modify the way that you are your training, as long as you're taking the right actions for you at the right time, you can continue to get faster. You can continue to improve as a runner and I think a lot of people hit, like you know, the, the masters category and they're like, well, I'm, I'm going to slow down now. Like, well, were you absolute world class caliber, were you the best in the world when you were 30, then maybe you're going to slow down a little bit as you reach into your forties, but if you were solid as an athlete in your thirties. You could be incredible in your forties. If you were okay as an athlete in your thirties, I bet you could really step it up into the forties and fifties, and that's that's going to have this plays out. I think if you were a former Olympian, it's possible that yes, time is going to catch up to you.Angie:
Yeah, I think that I mean that that can be true. Um, and it is for most of us that were that are not a former Olympians, right? That's where it gets really exciting, because if you look at races, a lot of the most competitive age groups are really in the forties right, I got wrecked with my age group in my last race. Yeah, I mean because that was an ultra runner. Like how many people are running a hundred miles? Probably a lot of people in your age group.Kevin:
Right, Cause it's harder to do it with the little little kids. So you wait a little bit.Angie:
And that's what happens, and a lot of times, people that are doing longer races maybe they have noticed that their speed isn't what it used to be, and so they start to challenge themselves in new ways with distance. So maybe, if you're someone that is so connected to the speed and pace, you can start to think about challenging yourself in other ways, but that's another topic for another podcast. So I wanted to just kind of mention this one thing that I saw on Instagram that also, um, co-inspired this episode, and actually I just saw this, maybe yesterday, and we already talked about our day one challenge a few days ago, and so it just lined up very nicely with this idea of ability versus capacity. And it was from Jody Moore, who's a wonderful life coach that I follow and listen to her podcast. She's. She's got a great podcast called better than happy, highly recommend if you guys are looking for a life coaching podcast, and she's a faith based life coach, which I really like. But she put out an, a reel on Instagram yesterday, I think, and she said is it new year, new you, or is it new year, same you? And there's a lot of people out there that say, oh, new year, new you. And she said I think that it's both, and I 100% agree with her because you are already 100% worthy, you do not have to prove or earn your worth. It is the same you, and I think that's really important for us as runners to hear frequently, because we often think that through running we can prove ourselves somehow, or we need to prove it to ourselves. We need to prove that we're good enough, we need to prove that we're worthy, we need to earn some sort of pride or accomplishment in our life, which just isn't true, because we are all 100% worthy just by being born Like we are created. We believe, at least here on this podcast. We believe that we are created by God, by a higher power, and our worth is inherent. We don't have to do anything to become more worthy. In fact, you can't actually become more worthy because you are already 100% worthy. So that's the same you side of things. So you're saying you right, and then, on the other hand, you can do anything or choose to live however you want to. So that could be the new you right Of. I'm choosing to do things differently. I'm choosing to try to get faster. I'm choosing to try to run longer. I'm choosing whatever goal it is that I have for myself this year. I want to evolve into a new and different version of myself, because we, as humans, are wired for growth. It's not a bad thing. It's not saying that old me is bad. It's saying I just want to continue growing and evolving and seeing what I'm capable of. And why don't we just do it? Because it would be really fun. Why don't we do it? Because it helps to fulfill this need for, for growth in our lives, so that we don't just feel stagnant all the time.Kevin:
Yeah, so the the idea that you are fully worthy right now, like you don't have to do anything to prove to yourself, to prove to anybody around you or to prove your capacity. Yeah, To prove any of that. But you still can try and change, try and improve, try and grow, try new challenges. But you don't need to Like. You are already fully worthy and yet you can still evolve. You can look at where you are, be happy with your current state and then still try to grow from there. Um, this whole idea of capacity, of of what's inside of you, reminds me of a story that I like to to share with. I do stories that being of a lot of my classes in high school. Um, and the one story that I have is the story of this farmer who found, uh, an egg, an eagle egg. Well, he was out walking around on the property and it was an abandoned nest, and so he brought the eagle egg back and put it in his chicken coop and the chicken sat on it and whatnot, and the egg hatched and the eagle was born, but it was born onto a chicken farm. And so the eagle walked around with the other chickens pecking on the ground for all the little like seeds and whatnot on the ground, and one day, as the eagle grew up and it was real old eagle never left the farm yard. It looked up in the sky and saw above it this majestic eagle soaring in the sky and it thought to itself man, if only I had been born an eagle. And it's just this whole idea of like, you have greatness inside of you. But that thing that that eagle looked around and said well, everybody else is just pecking the ground. I guess that's what I'm supposed to do Instead of dreaming big. That eagle thought man flying, that will be amazing, Soaring up ahead, and it had the capacity. It just never gave it a shot.Angie:
Yeah, I love that story also. There's so many lessons that you can learn from that story and so many different takeaways, but that is a really good one, especially for this podcast today. So, understanding that our capacity is infinite and if you have the desire, you have the capability and the capacity to achieve that thing. While we want to understand that, we also need to understand that your current ability might be limited, and this is where capacity and ability are different. You have the capability, you have that capacity, but your ability might be limited, and oftentimes we see people that train at a level above their current ability. This is the mistake that we see so many runners making. They want to achieve those big goals. They're like, yes, okay, great, I have the capacity to do anything I want. I'm going to go out and I'm going to run a two hour half marathon, I'm going to run a four hour marathon, I'm going to go out and run a hundred miles, whatever it might be, whatever that big, audacious goal you have, and they go out and they start training at a level above what they're currently able to do and it ends up in a lot of disappointment, a lot of frustration and oftentimes, pain and injury because they're training at a level above what they're currently able to do.Kevin:
And then it immediately hits them that they can't do that thing because their ability doesn't match their capability. And then it reinforces my goal was too big. That was a dumb idea. I'm not good enough and you are. You are good enough, it's just that you're currently training above your head. You have to train with your current ability so that you can start climbing, so that your ability can in fact enhance. Your ability can grow. Your capability or your capacity is infinite, but your ability can continue to grow and increase as you continue to train. You just have to train intelligently.Angie:
Right, and so that's really the key is not allowing your current ability to determine your capacity. Understanding your capacity is unlimited and if you have the desire, you have the capacity to do that thing. And then, as you train, you will be increasing your current ability, which will get you closer and closer to your capacity. Right Training, doing the right things for you with the right timeline, in a very smart way, is going to continually increase your ability to get closer and closer to your capacity. And here's the cool thing and also maybe not the cool thing, depending on how you look at it. I like to see it as a cool thing you will never actually reach your full capacity, right. I believe, again, your capacity is infinite. We all have unlimited potential on what we can accomplish in our life. We truly do, like, if you can dream it, you can be it. Right, like you were saying with some of these motivational posters yeah, they sound great, but they're true. Like, think about everything that there is in the world right now. At one point it didn't exist. You guys are listening to us from likely a smartphone, maybe a computer, maybe a smart device on your counter that you just decide to start talking to, that talks back to you and plays whatever the heck you want. Like none of those things existed even just a couple of decades ago. Right, like smartphones, the idea that we all have a phone in our pocket that can connect to the internet, which literally gives you every single piece of information that you can imagine and podcast for your own. For us that are sitting here in our recording studio in South Florida and you are listening to us maybe you're in the UK, maybe you're in Ireland, maybe you're in Canada, maybe you're up in New York, like Australia, we have people all over the world. I think the last time I checked, we were in like 60 different countries. It was, which is mind boggling. Like how cool is that? And it's because somebody had the idea and then took the actions to start working towards that idea. Like everything that we have right now in our life was once not there, but was a potential. Was you know, a capable, not capable? I mean, it was a possibility, right, all of these things were once possibilities and then someone or some group of people started taking actions and made those possibilities into reality.Kevin:
Yeah, and stumbled a lot on the way. Yeah, like that's the thing is, it didn't go from I don't have a smart speaker on my counter to poof. Now there is one and it's perfect Like there was a lot of things that didn't work along the way and there's a lot of stuff that you don't even recognize. And this is one of the issues of social media is, you see, like, before and after pictures, but you don't always see a lot of during pictures, or you do, but you ignore the during pictures. You just focus on somebody's before and after and you're like man, look at, look at what happened to that person. Why can't I do that?Angie:
I could never do that.Kevin:
Oh yes, I could never have that sort of transformation, or you could. If that's your desire, then you have that capacity, but you have to take the appropriate steps. We are far too close to having a child behind the wheel of a car, and one thing that we're not going to do is be like all right, let's give it a shot. Why don't we just pull over on the side of the highway here and change passenger to driver and make your first driving experience be like rush hour on the highway, like that just seems like a really bad idea. That's far too close to how I learned how to drive, because my driving instructor was late for his next appointment and so the only way to get there was to take the highway on my first day driving. But I've been driving for a full hour by that point, so I was pretty good to go. When he said I'm going to need you to take a left and merge, I'm like what that explains a lot. Doesn't? It Doesn't explain a whole heck of a lot.Angie:
Like your anxiety about driving.Kevin:
It may have been also raining at the time but, it was fine. But it's not really the safest idea to have somebody step up to something that is so far above their ability, because it's probably going to lead to initial failure, and it might be such a drastic failure that you lose sight of the dream, that you lose sight of the potential to get to that dream. But that dream is possible. You just have to work the right timeline, work the right steps.Angie:
Yeah, absolutely so. That's really the difference between capacity and ability, and we hope that this was a helpful discussion for you because, more than anything, we want to encourage you to dream big. There's a lot of people, it's the first of the year, it's 2024. This is our first official episode of 2024. We released a bonus episode earlier this week, but here in 2024 and here at Real Life Runners, we want to encourage you to dream big for both your running and for the rest of your life, because there's a lot of people that talk about goals at the beginning of the year and there's a lot of people out there teaching how to set smart goals. And smart goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic goals that have a timeline. That's the T or time-based. I think is the T. But my point is your goals don't have to be attainable or realistic right now. Okay, you can set really big goals and then be flexible with that timeline. Maybe we get the timeline wrong. Maybe that time based part that T of the smart goal we're not quite sure about yet. We set a goal, we set a timeline of you know, you know what? I think it'd be pretty cool to be able to achieve it in this timeline and then we do the things in a smart way, without training above our head, without going outside of our current ability, because we don't want to get injured, we don't want those unnecessary setbacks, and then understand that, okay, maybe when that timeline is over, I'm gonna, I'm gonna shoot for it, I'm gonna give it a shot, we're gonna do that race that I have on the calendar and we're gonna see how it goes. And I might be right about that timeline. I might not be right about that timeline, and that's okay. Just because I don't achieve the thing on my first, fifth or tenth time does not mean that I am not capable of achieving that goal. You are capable of achieving anything you want as long as you continue to smart, to train intelligently, continue to strive and believe in yourself, because you have the capacity to do anything you want.Kevin:
Yeah, it's that, that holding onto the belief, no matter what possible setback show up there. Holding onto the belief, holding onto that dream, because that's where the desire comes from and the desire is what leads to the capacity. If, if you have setbacks, if you give it a shot and you miss and the desire weakens, that's when your capacity starts losing its infinite, because if you don't have the desire, then your capacity lowers. You need to maintain that desire, maintain that will that I can do this. I'm going to keep working towards this thing and it is possible that you can do it.Angie:
Yeah. And if your goals change and you decide you no longer want that thing, that's okay too. But just be honest with yourself. And if you want to change your goals and adjust your goals, do it because it's not bringing you joy, because it doesn't excite you anymore, because you adjust your desires, and that's totally okay, right. Just because you have a desire at one point in your life doesn't mean that that has to continue forward and you always. Until you achieve that thing, you're totally allowed to change course if you want to. Just don't change course because you think that you're not capable, because you failed along the way. Change course because that thing no longer seems fun or exciting or desirable for you.Kevin:
Yeah, that's a good way of looking at it. I've changed course before. Yeah, I've definitely changed goals, because I really did a deep dive into where that goal came from. I was like I don't want to achieve that goal. For that reason and that's the only reason I'm aiming for it I don't need to satisfy my college coach. That's just really not a good reason to still keep doing something. It's not so I was able to let go.Angie:
Yeah, exactly so. Do things that light you up, do things that are exciting, dream really big and train at your current ability level. And as as you do that, as you train at your current ability level and you train intelligently with a plan, your ability level will continue to increase and then it's going to be fun to see how close you can get to your overall capacity. So, if you guys liked this episode, if you found it helpful, we would love it If you were to leave us a review on Apple podcasts stick. Take a screenshot, share it with a friend, shared on social media, help us reach more runners so that we can just help more runners to achieve their goals and to get closer and closer to their own individual capacity. And, as always, thanks for joining us. This has been the real life runners podcast, episode number 340, first podcast of 2024. Now get out there and run your life.