Wednesday, December 11, 2013

6 Reasons You’re Not The Runner You Want To Be

No matter who you are or what you do, there is always room for improvement. If I thought I was done growing (I am only 5’ 5” after all), I would probably shrivel up and die. For me, life has to be about continuing to improve, to learn, to experience, to risk, to GROW. But, even the best of us get stagnant sometimes.

Like any runner, I’ve had low points that have included injuries and illnesses. I’ve also had emotional/mental battles with running - times of feeling burned out, not good enough, unmotivated. I can usually connect these times to a few basic areas that are pulling me down and robbing me of my mojo. I wonder if you indulge in these problem areas too.

1. Comparing Too Much – Maybe you’ve read one too many posts on Facebook or tweets about other runners doing the most extraordinary things ever – qualifying for Boston! Coming in first in their age group! Doing a 15 mile training run and feeling GREAT!

You are happy for them, but you are also somewhat jealous. You think maybe those things are out of your reach. You think - what’s the point, I’ll never be able to do those things. Before you know it, your confidence is in the toilet along with your motivation and enthusiasm. When this downward spiral starts, you need to STOP. Stop your mind from telling you what you can and can’t do. Stop basing your running worth on what others are doing. Compare yourself only to yourself.

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2. Getting Lazy – I’ve said this five million times on this blog: running, working out, training is a decision you make.  The trick to motivation is to not over think it. The minute you even contemplate not going and start making rationalizations for not going (I’m too…{fill in the blank} tired, constipated, menstrual, busy, cold, gassy) is the minute you are one step closer to not getting out the door. Shut up and stop being lazy and full of excuses. If you don’t go, you never know what you missed:

bethtopofworld

3. Talking Yourself Out of Being a Runner – If I had a potato chip for every time a runner told me they weren't sure they were a “real” runner, I’d be on the Biggest Loser (which might not be so bad considering you know who – Dolvett – is there). My point is - if you run, you are  a runner. No matter how fast or slow, how short or far. It doesn’t matter if you race every weekend or have never done a race. Don’t have all the fancy clothes, shoes and watches? Doesn’t matter.  The minute you break into a run/jog from a walk, you are running and you are a runner. Own it.

4. Listening To the Wrong People – It took me awhile, but in all of my infinite 46 year old wisdom, I finally learned that the company we keep and the messages that company gives us has a profound impact on not only our confidence, but our general outlook on life. Surround yourself with negative people and guess what? Your mood veers towards pessimism. Hang out with positive folks who boost you up? You are inspired, energized, courageous.

When I decided to do my Ironman, I had my doubts. If I had listened to the naysayers, I would probably would have still moved forward, but not with near the confidence. The people who believed in me never waivered. And, that made me never waiver too. Choose to be around people who are forward thinkers, dreamers, go-getters, risk takers. See what happens.

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5. Letting a Setback Define You – Let’s face it. We’ve all had horrible runs and races. Most of us have been injured. Lots of us have set lofty goals that have not been reached. We’ve DNS’d, DNF’d and/or have been DFL. So what? Take adversity as a personal challenge to become stronger. I mean, if this girl can run a marathon a few months after this picture was taken, then you can bounce back too (my farts are so bad sometimes I have to wear a mask).

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6. Losing Perspective – We runners can get obsessed. Tunnel vision is our diagnosis. We are so set on things going a certain way, that we’ve lost our flexibility and our ability to see the big picture. Running is important, it is a huge and important part of your life. However, if you over emphasize its importance, then you have also lost balance in your life. Cut yourself a break, do something else you love to do and remember to lighten up and to not take yourself so seriously. Maybe you’ll actually start to fall in love with running again.

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Are you guilty of any of the above? I’ve done #1, #5 and #6 over and over again. I need to remind myself to not compare, to bounce back, and to keep perspective. These are my struggles.

SUAR

52 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for the oh so timely post. I'm currently dealing with an Achilles issue that for sure has me identifying heavily with #5 and #6. I've been injured numerous times over the 7 years that I've been running but my last injury was about 3 years ago. Yes.....I've been lucky. My next marathon is mid January and its killing me for taking a 3 week hiatus before even attempting to run again. Blah blah blah.......enough whining but thanks again.

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    1. How are you treating your "issue"? I've had a problem with the foot bed right under my toes forever, I do not want to take a break but am thinking, like you, I just just to suck it up and do it.

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    2. Hang in there, and see a physical therapist AND perhaps a massage therapist. I ran my first marathon in late October (Marine Corps, Oct. 27), and about 6 weeks before it I developed an Achilles issue as well. I was freaking out, thinking I wasn't going to get the training I wanted and everything else, but I sought out a physical therapist and had several massages before it (I also had a good friend, who's a massage therapist, come to be with me the weekend of the race, and she massaged me several times, including the night before and immediately after the race). During the race, I had to stop to stretch my calves (after all, the Achilles issue is really a matter of the calves getting tired/not being strong enough), but the Achilles was FINE, and the calves were good other than a little tired! I was SOOO grateful for all of those people who helped me in the weeks leading up to my marathon! And, my physical therapist said - if you get sharp pain that won't go away, STOP. That will lead to permanent injury, so unless you want that, I'd suggest listening to him. Hope you heal quickly and are able to enjoy your marathon!!

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    3. I recommend Matt Fizgerald's book - RUN: The Mind-Body Method of Running by Feel. Even though I'm not a competitive runner I found Chapter 9 The Gift of Injury very helpful.

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  2. Brilliant! Thanks! I'm struggling a bit at the moment with another birthday just around the corner (52 - gulp) and winter due to arrive with a vengeance this weekend. It helps to reminded to just run and trust the process.

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  3. I am guilty of #'s 1, 2, 4, and 6. Often I have found that the same people that I compare myself to are also the most negative...double whammy of blasting out their accomplishments while not being genuine in their support.... And, well, I like wine and that can derail an early morning run very easily... I also REALLY need to work on keeping perspective - even if things aren't going as planned, I need to remember that I am still out there going at it. Lots of people would like to be able to just get out there, so I need to stop complaining that it isn't 'just right'. Awesome post - thanks for sharing!

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  4. Love this! I agree with all of them! My biggest issue is #1 I compare myself all the time and it ends up frustrating me beyond words! This was a great reminder!

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  5. Thanks for this. I am very much #1 and #3

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  6. Wow, I needed this today. 1 & 2 are my biggest downfall. Nice to have a reality check once in a while and a good kick in the pants.

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  7. Thank you for your #3. It put a BIG SMILE on my face. I never say I'm a runner because I just do 5Ks and instead say "I like to run." I'm gonna work on saying "I'm a runner." There, I typed it at least. I'll say it out loud soon. In front of people. Maybe. :)

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  8. Definitely comparing too much. I wish I could run a half marathon averaging a 7 minute mile, but for now that isn't possible. I have to bring myself back down to reality. It takes time to get faster and it won't happen overnight!

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  9. I do #1 and #6 over and over and over. I'm trying to learn to shut.it.down when the negative thoughts start. It's tough, but I know I can do it!

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  10. #4 is very unfortunate for me as it's my family. I can't just say to my mother "Sorry you're too negative. I wanna surround myself with positive people." She even thinks exercise in general is a waste of time and money. *Rolls eyes*

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    1. That is sooo unfortunate for sure, to have someone that close to you feel that way about something that only makes you feel that much more positive about yourself. I hope things work out better for your situation!!

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  11. From the Netherlands ... I often read your blog and I would like to compliment you for your honesty about running. I run myself and blog (in Dutch) and I like that you write so free about it in all aspects not only the glorious times. I like to share with you two sayings pinned on my fridge: 'when you want to you will find a reason, when you do'nt you will find an excuse' and 'when you start your courage will grow, when you doubt your fear does' (both free translation)

    Keep running and blogging! Bye Bye,

    Dorothé

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    1. Beautiful words! Thank you for sharing! :)
      ~Sonja

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  12. I love this because it is SO APPLICABLE across fitness genres too.
    all.

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  13. This is so great!!! Thank you for sharing. #1- I do this waaaay too much. It's nice to hear someone else (besides the friends I annoy whining about it) say "SHUT UP" :) And #4...this is so very true. And recently, I've had some inner reflection about myself...making sure I am the positive one that others want to be around and feel better about themselves around me. Thanks again - and your blog is a really great read!

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  14. Love the yellow shirt you're wearing - athleta?

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    1. It's actually the shirt I got at the Boston Marathon in 2010.

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  15. Mine is definitely #5. I have yet to do my first marathon. I have had three surgeries since Jan 2012 and lots of sickness. Plus, I had a back injury that wiped me out all Summer. It's been hard and lots of negitivity washes over me.

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  16. I'm definitely guilty of all of these, 1-6. Sometimes a couple at the same time! So often I remind myself to just shut up and run.

    Also, I can't believe you're only 5'5". You seem so much taller!!

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    1. This made me laugh! I couldn't believe she was 5'5" either, but I thought she was a lot shorter! The internet can be deceiving...

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  17. AWESOME post!! I love the perspective you bring to things as it's both serious and lighthearted which is exactly what running is for me personally...a strange little mix of the two. I know my biggest set back has been getting in my own way mentally, not believing in what I can truly achieve.

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  18. Thank you so much for this! I am an overweight newbie runner who has been DFL is both races I've done this year and sometimes it's hard to feel like a "real" runner. And the cold weather coming on hasn't helped me want to get out but I have been trying to make friends with the treadmill in the meantime. But thanks for helping me to SUAR!

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    1. DNS and DNF I know, but what does DFL stand for? That's a new one for me.

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  19. Such a great post! #6 is my biggest issue, although it's never made me NOT enjoy running. I gave up comparing myself to others ages ago. It always ended in tears and frustration and I finally figured out that it just wasn't worth the energy. I'm a much happier runner now. :)

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  20. I probably struggle with number one the most. All around me runners seem to be preparing for a race all the time. And I don't race. That sometimes makes me think I'm not really a runner. Because racing seems to go hand in hand with running.

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  21. This is great, and much needed. I'm really struggling this week with bad runs (not the potty type!) - I got out there in cold and ran, I did it every time I said I was going to, but I felt slow and out of shape each time (despite my consistent training). If I had to guess at a cause I'd say it's the bloat leftover from the last two weeks of poor eating (the start of holiday eating! Yikes!). But the problem has been how it's affecting me mentally. I'm trying to convince myself that a bad run still conditions my heart and lungs, still strengthens my legs. It's worth it to be out there doing it, even if I'm not loving it like usual. But every step of the way I've been fighting the urge to call off my training plan for my first half marathon, which I'd been aiming at for next season.

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  22. I think I am a victim of 1,4,and 6 sometimes. I really like this list and think it's a great reminder.

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  23. Beth, thank you so much for this post!! It is actually the kick-in-the-pants I need!! I have been my own worst enemy over the past 8 months concerning running. I've been trying to get over this mental block for some time now - questioning am I really a runner, and do I deserve to be in the company I'm in are just a few reasons "excuses" I keep contemplating.

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  24. Thank you so much for your words, Beth!
    Seams that I'm a "real runner", too! I'm running marathons, but I always was thinking: Oh, no, I'm not good, I'm slow, I have bad running form, and so on.... instead of being proud.
    I'll stop it and rather get inspired by you!
    Greetings from Austria, Europe
    Gabrielle

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  25. Great post! The part about the company you keep is so true.

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  26. Thank you. I need this today.

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  27. This is my new favorite post of yours! The Getting Lazy one really resonated with me. You are so right, you don't know what you are missing. I better run today. Thanks SUAR!

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  28. I think I've done all of those plus battled/battling depression. I nearly lost my love for running completely this year, and had to regroup. I started doing some biking and that helped motivate me to get some running in again.

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  29. Great stuff. I think the thing I suffer from the most is getting lazy/losing mojo. Thanks for the pep post!

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  30. I definitely do #3 - even though I encourage other people NOT to! I am married to a #4, not so much that he's negative but since he injured his knee he's really anti-running for exercise (at least more than a warm-up) and it's making me CRAZY! I don't think he's trying to be but every little twinge I have he suggests stopping. Grrrr! I'm slow, I'm careful, I'm educated and I'm NOT stopping...

    I think I also do the comparing thing but in a positive way - more like, "Well, heck, if SHE can do it, then so can I!"

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  31. I had been running for about a decade before I called myself a runner, this included numerous half marathons! I would tell people, "I run" but never say, "I'm a runner." The quote by John Bingham is one of my favorites.

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  32. Being too is my symptom. I am too cold...tired...hungry...anxious...crampy...dehydrated...you name it, I can be too.
    But I am also too when I am training for something. Too excited, too much fun, too happy. Need to keep it all in perspective. I love running, wish I could do it more often, life throws us hiccups, right now, I am taking care of my mother, MOL, son and awaiting a new pup. Work is crazy, the holidays, the bills, you name it, it's all there. But...keeping it in perspective, I am healthy, happy and sound of mind (mostly). WHEN I can, I will get back to running. For now, I watch the joggers club going past my house and think, I can't wait to be with you.
    Amy P. Philly Runner

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  33. Thank you for this post Beth! I am seriously lacking motivation this week and i have a 10 mile run to do on Saturday. I cant really understand why i'm so not into it this week but i'm still making myself do a 4 mile run this afternoon. Usually i cant wait but this week i'm all meh about it. Ive got a half on the calendar for Feb 23rd and i'm hoping that will perk me up.

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  34. You really nailed it on this list here. I can't think of a single runner who hasn't been guilty of at least one of these, and I'd guess that most of us have probably been guilty of nearly all of these at some point or another in our running career.

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  35. Yeah! Ironman fit another post beautifully. (I do read the blog for things other than IM references - just happy when you can mention it smoothly.)
    Good message - especially re the company we keep.

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    1. Haha, got to fit it in there somewhere, right?? I wonder when these bragging rights wear off?

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  36. I'm so guilty of some of these. The nice thing is that the longer I call myself a runner, the easier it is to shrug off the negative voices. Fake it 'til you make it, you know?

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  37. #2&3 for sure. I love, love, love being comfortable, love yoga pants, old sweatshirts, fuzzy blankets, good books, and good hot coffee. Running just isn't comfortable, and that little part of my brain that loves the aforementioned things is often trying to talk me out of my run. (That's where blogs like yours and Runner's World updates splashed across my Facebook feed work wonders giving me the little extra push out the door.) I'm not lazy once I get going, it's just getting over the Inertia. As for feeling like a runner... I've been doing this for a good three years now and I haven't lost more than 7 pounds ( and I have plenty to lose). It doesn't help when I'm running on the treadmill and can see myself. I would have an easier time calling myself a runner if I had the coveted long, lean runner's body. Sheesh! I'm doing it right now. I run on that treadmill! I run on those roads! I guess that makes me a runner.

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  38. Conquering number two is key. Never rationalize.
    www.strongerrunners.com

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  39. Thanks for this post! I think it was so on point for me right now. After being sick for many weeks and not being able to run for a few, I feel like I haven't been running for the past 10 years and continue to only compare myself to others, which really makes it harder. Thank you for the reality check!

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  40. Love. I definitely get caught in the comparison trap!

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  41. Oh hell yes - #1, #5 and #6 for sure! It's great knowing that we ALL do it.
    I never get tired of seeing that pic of you crossing the IM finish. Is that weird? :-)

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  42. Im so guilty of comparing myself, losing perspective and basically everything else but a good run always brings me back to realize nope just one good run is why I do this.

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  43. Comparing yourself, and laziness are the biggest obstacles that I face too. So well put, yet so simple. Thanks!

    http://minneapolisrunning.com

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