Saturday, January 19, 2013

5 Ways to Stop Beating Up Your Running Self

Most of the time not only are we our own worst enemies, but we are our own worst critics. I read somewhere recently that almost everyone suffers from the “not enoughness” disease. I’m not going to lie – it makes me feel good to know I’m not the only one!

This got me to thinking about how hard we are on ourselves about running. I know that to train well and to be disciplined, one needs a certain amount of self-critiquing. If we don’t assess our weaknesses and work to improve them, then how do we evolve? But, I am here to say that there is a fine, yet very definite, line  between critiquing yourself productively and beating yourself up. Using productive criticism feels like growth, encouragement and progress. Beating yourself up feels negativity, failure and constriction

So, how do we do it? How do we lighten up on ourselves, yet still expect the best?

1. The Grass Is Not Greener. I say this all of the time and you are probably sick of hearing it, but don’t compare yourself to others. Your internal dialogue should not say, “Oh, I’m a loser. I don’t run as fast or as far as ___________. What is wrong with me?” You should instead be saying, “Okay, I’m not running the paces I was at this time last year. What’s changed? Am I getting enough sleep? Am I running with a potential injury? Am I over trained or stressed about something? How can I be healthier?”

2. Reframe It. Remember what you are doing right. It is so incredibly easy to focus on our shortcomings - that we didn’t PR in that last race, or that we did too much and got injured. Just when you want to berate yourself for being less than, is probably exactly when you need to build yourself up for being enough. Remember all of the times you got up early to fit in a run before you had to make breakfast for the kids and start your workday. Give yourself credit for all of the times you got out to run when it was 10 degrees and all you wanted to do was stay in bed. Most of all, view every single time that you pushed yourself, every time that you made a run happen, as a success. Focus on what you do right, not on how you are falling short.

3. Lighten Up. Stop taking yourself so damn seriously. Laugh in the face of imperfection. We get so focused, so set on what has to happen, that we forget to just be present. In just one day I can tell you at least five things that I inadvertently do that are hilariously imperfect. I fall down stairs. I trip over roots on the trail. I blow a snot rocket and it lands on my sleeve. I fart during a massage. I mean, if I took myself ultra-seriously I’d have to to be medicated 24 hours a day just to survive.

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4. Surrender. This is so cliché, but letting go really does work. This doesn’t mean that you give up caring or trying or setting goals. It does mean that you stop resisting everything. Have you ever heard the expression, “what you resists, persists?” It’s almost like the more that we wish something different, the more energy we give to it and the more it shows up in our lives. Let go of the fact you are injured or a slower runner than you’d like to be or five pounds overweight. Stop thinking about it all day long. Acknowledge it, accept it and set an intention to change it.

5. Be Vulnerable. Have the courage to not be perfect and show this side to others. What makes you human, what makes you relatable to others, is that you are not afraid to share your struggles and challenges. This does not mean that you have a pity party or play the victim all day long. Instead, let people in when life gets hard for you. Don’t be afraid to say you get discouraged with your running sometimes. Don’t be afraid to say you wish you weren’t getting older and slower. Chances are if you open up and share this, someone will share something right back. Connecting with others this way builds us up and gives us permission to go easier on ourselves. Because good friends remind you that you are enough and if you hear that enough times you might start to believe it. Need more help? Read Daring Greatly by Brene Brown.

The bottom line is that we are much harder on ourselves than anyone else is on us. I would never talk to a good friend the way I talk to myself. That’s crap. In order to be our best selves, we need to build ourselves up, not break ourselves down.

How do you regularly beat yourself up and how are you going to stop it?

What did you do today to treat yourself well? I had a long and “vulnerable” conversation with a good friend.

SUAR

36 comments:

  1. I'm getting better about dealing with the possible imaginary outcomes, and doing it anyway.

    French Press coffee.

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  2. Great advice! I really like the tip about taking a look at what has changed, if you're not happy with your running. It's best to take a look at what is different, rather than whining about failures. ;)

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  4. I wrote a similar post yesterday about how I was feeling, this is the link to my post. We are good enough just the way we are!
    http://runningawaywithmyself.blogspot.ca/

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  5. Wow, I needed this. How did you know? Maybe I will actually getting over my fear of looking stupid while I attempt to swim (drown). Thanks.

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  6. Great advice. I love how you keep it real. I beat myself up over the last 10 pounds I'd like to lose. I lost 50 and I just can't manage to get rid of the last few pounds and it's been 2 years. I need to take your advice and stop beating myself up over it every day.

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  7. So needed to hear this right now! Thank-you!!

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  8. Yes, this is just what I needed. I just cannot fit in my long run this weekend (a month before my marathon) but I know I can do it next week. And even my 7 mile run seemed slow today but really it is not that bad. I know I will finish my marathon and that is my # 1 goal so who cares if it is sub-4 or plus-5, really?

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  9. This one hit home for me today. Thank you for your motivation, support, and insight as always!

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  10. Great post!

    http://therealfoodrunner.blogspot.com/

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  11. Thank you - needed to hear that today after my first outdoor run in months! (I walked 2x and I'm still telling myself it is fine!!!)

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  12. THANK YOU. My marathon is 9 weeks away and I was in tears on the trail this morning because I couldn't push more than 14 miles. Trying to reassess and maybe go a little easier on myself because of this post.

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  13. Perfect timing for me with this too...my first half marathon is next weekend and I'm just coming off 3 weeks of no running at all because I caught that crud cold flu thing that has been going around. I haven't done more than 8.4 miles and need walk breaks...all I have been able to think is how much I suck! The reality is that I haven't been running long at all, have only done 3 official races (5ks) and couldn't even run a mile without thinking I was going to die when I began. Thanks for this :)

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    Replies
    1. I just ran my first 1/2 marathon after being unable to train for 3 weeks prior due to breaking my hand. My time was slow... about 30 seconds per mile slower than my training runs. But you know what? NO ONE ever even asked what my time was. They were all just amazed that I ran that far. And I was so proud of myself for getting out there and doing it despite everything! So, go for it!! Allow yourself to be slow. There will still be runners ahead and behind...just like there would be if you were running fully trained. And, trust me... when you cross that finish line you will feel like a champ!!

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  14. Sometimes we all need the reminder :) Thanks!

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  15. Thanks, nice post.

    I too focus too much on the negative. Every time I run there are some positives. I just need to call them out.

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  16. This was good. I've been working on not beating up my running self or my regular self. I think I'm getting pretty good at NOT doing it anymore. In fact, instead of getting down on myself for not preparing 'properly' for my upcoming race, I'm totally embracing and enjoying cross-training and getting excited to see what happens if I go into a race without running hardly at all beforehand! Should be interesting!

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  17. I know I've beaten myself up a couple times with running, but not in a long time. I'm not sure why. I did it all the time with swimming, but I'm hoping it won't happen this time around with getting back into tris. My hatred of swimming made me want to quit tris in favor of running a couple years ago.

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  18. I'm still working on finding the happy medium between being too hard on myself and being the victim of "good enough" (where you lose motivation to be better because you are ok with being "good enough").

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  19. Gabrielle (mareavivama)January 19, 2013 at 6:09 PM

    Thank you. Seriously: thank you.

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  20. I recently returned to running after 6 yrs. I have been fighting negative thoughts and ridiculous comparisons, so thanks for this. Btw, I just found your blog today and have really enjoyed reading several of your posts. I will be following!

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  22. Somehow, I manage not to beat myself up over my workouts too much. Instead, I just beat myself up over life - mostly starting that lovely loop of "feeling guilty for not doing X, which makes me not want to do X even more, so I feel more guilty" until I feel nauseous at the merest niggle of X.

    My imperfect solution? Try to treat myself how I'd treat a friend, if he/she were in my shoes. In some respects, I'm harder on myself than on other people, so theoretically this should make me a bit more understanding. My success? Mixed. :)

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  23. Years ago, I attended a seminar, given by Creative Insights, held for the 9/11 widows, I will always remember them addressing how we, as women, put ourselves down - and they suggested that for every time we put ourselves down, we gave ourselves 2 "put-ups". It really helps - esp. around that PMS time! When you do this regularly, it helps you break that downward spiral of self-degradation. I hope this helps someone the way it has helped me!

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  24. I needed to read this right now! Thanks.

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  28. thank you so much for posting, beth!!!!
    exactly what i needed to read today!

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  30. 40 years ago I could run a five flat mile as a recreational runner......15 years ago I could do about 6:30......,..now? Injures and medical problems coupled with Father Time seem to be keeping me from breaking nine minutes in a mile and hold my longer runs to a slog.

    I haven't yet found a way to not beat myself up on this one.....:-)

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  31. No lie it's hard to look at someone faster and imagine they would ever have a not enough day, but it's true the journey is relative to where we are at the moment.

    My only disagreement is I really didn't care for Daring Greatly :)

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  32. I'm dealing with what I call a "stupid injury" that really doesn't have much to do with running but is keeping me from running. I'm pretty much stuck in beat up mode, everything from not being able to get much exercise to getting chunky. I recovered better physically and mentally after a major spinal surgery than I am from this stupid injury. As I wallow and remind myself that there are people out there with real problems, I beat myself up some more about being so whiney about this stupid injury.

    The first thing I did was ignore all of my FB friends who post about their awesome 20 miler and how awesome they are and how awesome their life is. It just made me want to cry even more. I remind myself several times a day that this too shall pass.

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  33. This post is so in line with my post from today and with my intentions for 2013. We are way too hard on ourselves. I think runners are even more guilty of it than the average Joe.

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