I have long been a fan of the “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” (DSTSS) books, mostly because I feel I need constant reminders to let things go that don’t ultimately matter.
What I mean by that is – I don’t want to worry about the “littler” things that I won’t even remember a year from now. It also means not taking myself so seriously. Sometimes you just have to go with things and not analyze, obsess or wish they were different. Wishing things were different only makes you dislike the present moment, so knock it off.
Some of my favorite DSTSS points:
- Think of your problems as potential teachers
- Everyday tell at least one person something you like, admire or appreciate about them
- Make peace with imperfection
- Become a better listener
As I was re-reading some of these great reminders the other day, I was thinking about how we, as runners, can lighten up about our running. Running is meant to be a release, a gratifying physical activity, a stress reliever – not a chore or a mental and physical ambush.
That said, here are 12 ways to not sweat the small stuff with your running:
1. Allow yourself to miss a run or two – Resist getting bent out of shape if you need to miss a training day because you are sick, overly tired, or feeling a nagging ache or pain. Better to take an extra day off to recover than prolonging an illness or making yourself susceptible to injury. You are not a slave to your training plan. It is a guide to help you run your best race possible. This means getting to the start line healthy and not over trained.
2. Leave the Garmin at home sometimes– While you might have time goals and be training at certain paces, it’s a good mental break to run based on feel and not pace now and again. Running “naked” also gives you a chance to stop judging yourself for once.
3. There will always be another race – Have a terrible day where you hit the wall, crapped your pants, or failed to meet your time goal? Keep it in perspective. You will have a chance for redemption. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move forward.
4. Injuries will come and go – If you’ve been running long enough, you’ve probably been injured at some point. Understand that this is temporary. Rest, recover, follow doctor’s orders. You will run again, just not now. Read THIS POST and THIS POST to help you cope when you are spiraling down into the deep dark place of wanting to punch every runner you see.
5. Race against yourself only – The surest way to feel badly about your running is to compare yourself to others. There will always be someone faster and someone who can run further. And…there will always be someone slower who cannot run as far as you do. Accept yourself where you are, set manageable goals and work your ass off to achieve them.
6. Let yourself have an off day – Some days you will go out and run and it will simply suck. Your toe hurts, your stomach is rebelling, the weather is too hot or too cold, you’re hung-over, the wind is ridiculous. You feel like you hate running. Allow yourself the experience of having a bad run and don’t over analyze it. It happens to everyone. Chances are, your next run will be much better.
7. Keep good company – Who you hang out with (or run with) can have a huge positive or negative impact on your life. Talk about running with those people who support your goals and want the best for you.
8. Don’t worry if you gain a couple of pounds– You may find that you actually gain weight while training or running consistently. This is not that uncommon (read an article I wrote about gaining weight while marathon training HERE) and there can be lots of reasons for it, especially during marathon training. Now, if you’ve put on 20 pounds while training…that’s a different story.
9. Running is only part of your life, not your entire life – When you have a passion like running, you can find yourself becoming obsessed. Ever heard: “How do you know someone is training for a marathon?” “Because they will tell you.” We all get wound up in our training goals. It affects what we eat, read, talk about and do. But in the midst of it all, there are other parts of your life that need attention. And, remember not EVERYONE wants to hear about your running.
10. Spend some time on the other side – Instead of running a race, volunteer for a race. Understand and appreciate all that goes into putting on a good race. Observe how others push through their suffering – it’s actually quite motivating.
11. Have gratitude – If you are able to run, your body is doing you a favor. If you are able to run it means you have legs, you are not injured, you are alive. If you are able to run it is a good day. Don’t take that for granted.
12. Give other runners a break – We’ve all had the experience of running down a path, road or trail and coming across another runner who doesn’t smile or wave at us. Instead of cursing your fellow runner, give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe their dog just died. Maybe they are in pain. Maybe they are blind (doubt it). The point is, we never know what someone is going through. Smile and wave anyway. (Read this story to remember that we NEVER know how we might affect people).
What’s one point above you can relate to?
Are you one to sweat the small stuff? About what?