As I rode home today, I had enough muscle fatigue and almost-soreness that I had a few twinges of worry about what the rest of the week’s commutes would be like. Yet despite that worry, I found myself pushing it a little, where I could.

And I found myself a little surprised at what I had left, despite the fatigue and soreness.

Pushing a bit harder wasn’t really a conscious decision. It wasn’t a calculated risk, it was like my body just went ahead and did what it was capable of, despite my misgivings.

How hard we push ourselves depends on many factors, and part of it comes down to a balance between prudence and confidence.

The prudent thing is to always hold back so that we can be sure of having enough to reach our goal. Since my goal is to bike commute four days a week, part of me thinks about what I need to have left for Thursday as I start my commute to work on Monday.

The confidence comes in as I get more fit and trust my body more. Trust that even when I push it today, I’ll have something left tomorrow.

I was thinking about elite athletes as I pedaled up my worst hill going home, and how they seem to give their all and then a whole lot more. I couldn’t decide if it is a lack of prudence in them, or just an overwhelming confidence. Or maybe it is more that they push themselves so hard, so often, that they know what most of us only get teasers of – our reserves are greater than we give ourselves credit for.

You never can find your personal limit if you never push yourself beyond what you can handle, if you never shoot for that point of beyond. Most of us hold so much in reserve we have no idea where that point is.