Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Are You Too Hard on Yourself?

My best friend, Anon Y. Mous, left a comment on my blog. It was in response to my last post when I talked about how humbling it is to start marathon training because you realize how tough it is. He/she/it let me know that I should give myself a break, but that I probably won’t because I am way too hard on myself.

It’s a valid point. So, thank you, Mr. or Ms. Mous.

This got me thinking (never a bad thing for a blonde). I am supposing that a significant majority of the people who run marathons are probably over-achievers. That they probably push themselves harder than anyone else pushes them. That they expect a great deal from themselves and don’t cut themselves a break very often.

Check. Check. Check.

I do all of these things. Do you think it’s possible to not be hard on yourself and to train for and run a marathon? Because I don’t. I think if you are going to struggle through long runs, if you are going to sweat through speed work and if you are going to put in the endless hours it takes to get to the start line, being a bit hard on yourself is part of the process. In a weird way it becomes your motivation.

This doesn’t mean you kill yourself or that you fail to recognize your achievements. It also doesn't mean that you minimize how extraneous circumstances such as weather, amount of sleep, and stress affect your performance. I think that was Mr./Ms. Mous’s point. If you are running into a 50 mph head wind or you’ve just thrown up on the side of the road, you might want to cut yourself some slack.

Or, maybe it’s just me and I have a problem. At least I can laugh at myself when I crap my pants or poop inside a tree. Here’s where I left a gift:

pooptree

As a runner, are you too hard on yourself?

Last chance to enter the GIVEAWAY!

34 comments:

  1. Nope, not just you. I'm currently feeling guilty because I couldn't finish my planned speedwork due to the fact that A. I've felt "off" and dizzy all day and B. my GI tract kept threatening to vacate its entire contents all over the track.

    I KNOW it was smarter to stop rather than keep pushing myself, but it still makes me feel weak. Or maybe that's the chills I've got going on. Tough to say.

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  2. I feel guilty if a run doesnt go right or is cut short too. I think to finish a marathon you got to be hard on yourself.

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  3. I am going through that right now, and even posted something today on my blog about this because of how sucky my running week has gone. I get this way all too often..... although it is what sometimes gets me back on track when I stray a bit.

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  4. Hmm... I'm torn... on the one hand, I'm entirely Type A about (any kind of) exercise, and by training for a half marathon I'm actually forcing myself to cut myself some slack (this way I can run three miles because my schedule says to instead of running three miles and then feeling guilty and doing an hour of weights because three miles "isn't enough"). On the other hand, I'm also quite Type A about going about cutting myself said slack... so maybe I'm just confused :)

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  5. I think I am a little too hard on myself some times. I have learned though that I need to give myself some slack because a lot of things are just out of our control and it just doesn't do any good to beat myself up about it.

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  6. I posted about this exact thing a few weeks ago. I think you strike a lovely balance between being hard on yourself and laughing at yourself (both excellent character traits, in my opinion!)

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  7. i totally am WAY too hard on myself. my goal is (and always had been) perfection. which is totally unattainable. bummer. not just as a runner either. makes it really hard to find satisfaction in things because i'm always looking for ways to improve

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  8. I just found your blog and am really enjoying it. I'll keep checking in! I would say that I hold myself to a higher standard as far as effort than I hold other people. I'm a slow runner so I can't be too hard on myself as far as time, but I don't let myself skip workouts or give it anything but my best.

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  9. I push myself but am not really hard on myself as far as running goes. I am hard on myself in other aspects of life though. That is counter productive for sure.
    With running I have learned that if I don't run regularly and am working on some kind of goal then I am not happy and stress builds. So I keep moving.
    We shall see though how this marathon goes. I might be eating a big fat crow pie in a few months!!

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  10. I'm definitely too hard for myself... and not just with running. I'm hard on myself in a variety of aspects of my life... but running is definitely a big one. It's hard to not strive to be perfect.

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  11. I think whenever we push ourselves to improve (in anything) we are being "hard on ourselves" Judging where we are currently as not good enough thus the need to push ourselves to improve. As runners we want PRs, longer races, better age group placings so if improvement is being hard on ourselves then we all are. I important thing is to remember that if we fall short of our goals to not punish ourselves over it but to be inspired to continue our efforts for constant improvement.

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  12. In a word.....yup. totally am. Especially after a crappy race *cough cough* seattle *cough*

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  13. I'm too conservative - I need to be harder on myself.

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  14. I'm always too hard on myself. I'm afraid if I wasn't, I wouldn't achieve anything. That sounds moronic, but that's my brain for you.

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  15. I am way harder on myself than anyone else. I tell other plenty of what I should tell myself. I give others a break where I would never give myself one. I don't know if you read ILAXstudio blog but her and I were JUST talking about this and my comment got so long (like this one) that I said I was going to work on a post about being so tough on oneself. Seems to be a theme for many people!

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  16. I think you are totally right. There are some limits, but if you're into finishing a marathon, you NEED to be hard on yourself. And you don't regret it one bit when crossing the finish line :)

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  17. I think I used to be too hard on myself. And then I started thinking about the reasons I run. And most of them are because I want to stay healthy and have fun. When I stopped putting pressure on myself, I started to enjoy running a whole lot more.

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  18. definitely!! i thought we all were. i get told this by people who aren't runners because they just don't get it.

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  19. I wouldn't say I'm hard on myself, more full of myself :) I know what I'm capable of and also know that I can pretty much do anything (except dance) with some hard work. I like to say I'm a self motivator!

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  20. I think sometimes I push myself to hard and feel like I haven't done enough, but then other times I'm just running to be running and don't worry so much about the outcome, i'm half/half

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  21. I am EXTREMELY hard on myself. With regards to running, life, career, you name it. I always think I should be faster, be a better wife, have a cleaner house, bring in a bigger paycheck.

    BUT, a marathon course is no place for a slacker. You HAVE to be a little bit hard on yourself and have great expectations of yourself if you plan to finish a marathon.

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  22. Wow, it's interesting to read these comments! I think women are so hard on themselves in general, me included! Maybe it's the athlete in us? The competition? This is not good!

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  23. Balance shmalance! I don't need no stinkin' balance! I'm hard on myself, but at the end of the day I do all this crazy running for myself. No one else is going to get me up and running, it has to come from within. I have to say though, as I get more mature as a runner (read as a runner, NOT as an adult!) I am able to look back and see what went wrong and why and then learn from it. Before I would have beat myself up for days over a bad run.
    I am able to laugh though, and recognize that often what I experience on a run will never be experienced by a non-runner, i.e. crapping on the side of road or puking during a race. Makes me appreciate that much more. LOL!
    Have a great Thrusday :)

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  24. I'm kinda of an in betweener! I do recognize that I can do better and push harder, but I am also coming to terms with what my body will allow me to do without re-injuring myself. I'll never be a Boston qualifier, like Ms. Speedy you....but I think my strength might be slow and steady, so I'm actually looking at trail running to see if I'm better suited for that. I think pushing boundaries and being hard on yourself is needed, but within reason and when things don't work out, you need to re-asses and re-evalute without being stubborn and sticking to what is not working!

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  25. I don't think I'm too hard on myself, but everyone else does. I do have to admit they have a point - when I was upset that I missed breaking 5:00 in a trail 50K (by 41 seconds), more than one person reminded me I had run a 100 mile race the week before.

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  26. ehhhh...huhhuhhuh...you said "hard on".

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  27. Back in the blog circuit after a mini-hiatus.

    I used to be hard on myself and then I had a baby. I ran a marathon when my little girl was just 7 months old. I trained but I didn't push. My goal was to finish regardless of time and to finish w/o hurting my milk supply or leaving my girl for too long.

    Oddly, it was one of the best marathons I've ever run. Maybe it was the left over preggo-hormones that gave me a pain free run but I finished, finished happy, healthy, (full o'milk) and with a new PR believe it or not. So now I realize, it isn't necessary to kill yourself training as long as your runs are quality.

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  28. It's hard to find the balance of pushing yourself and being too hard on yourself. Being too hard on yourself isn't good for the overall performance either, but you need a lil' self push to improve.

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  29. I totally agree with everything you said in this post. In fact, just a few weeks ago I wrote an entry about how I'm always striving for perfection and that can lead to being too hard on myself. I had a few commenters tell me to be careful or basically calm down.

    But you're totally right, it takes a lot of ambition and drive to run a marathon (I imagine anyway, I'm still training for my first one), which means sometimes, you've got to be hard on yourself in order to keep going and improve. Nice post!

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  30. this is awesome.

    Is there such thing a as "too hard"? [men, please don't answer that]

    I TRY to be too hard on myself - 9 out of 10 times I am happy with the results it produces. ;)

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  31. I am hard on myself and I think I am because I want to be better. You're right: it's part of the package.

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