on making comparisons & feeling uber-inferior

Tuesday: 5 mile tempo run

Wednesday: 30 min on the elliptical, plus weights

Thursday: 40 min run on the treadmill

I’m taking a little detour from the form focus posts, but I promise to finish off that series soon.

In the meantime, I want to talk about a running issue that’s plaguing me lately — and plagues those of us who are used to performing well in most areas of our lives and sort of just, you know, expect perfection. (Expectations. Needly buggers.)

Or maybe I should say running issues. Plural. There are a few of them rattling around in my head, and they all make me sound like a whiny bitch.

Don’t believe me? (Actually, if you know me, you probably do believe me when I say I sound like a whiny bitch …) Allow me to enumerate my thoughts lately:

  1. I’m too slow. Nevermind that I’ve only started running regularly in the last two months. Nevermind that I’ve just started setting pace goals and timing myself. Nevermind that I’ve always been slow, nor that I’ve never really done sprint training. I don’t care! I’m too slow regardless! I hate being slow! I don’t want to be slow! I don’t want to look down and see a 9:xx or a 10:xx on my Garmin, no matter the distance I’m running.
  2. Those other girls are so much faster. Why?! Comparison is rarely a good thing. But, to be sure, it’s partially motivating. I follow a lot of really great running blogs (I need to do a post on my faves or make a blog roll), and I learn a lot from these women who are tough, fast and smart about their training. I like trying out speed workouts they’ve done and following the races they’re training for. It’s cool to know that so many others care about their running times and progress, since most of my real-life friends don’t tend to be crazy runners. BUT. I’ve started feeling like a bag of bones compared to their paces and weekly mileages. I’m just not that good. Not yet, maybe not ever. And it’s not even like I want to run as fast as them because I want to beat them. No. It’s more like, if normal-looking, recreational runners can run those paces, I feel like I should be capable of running those paces, too. I don’t want to be limited by my ability or my mindset. And I just really, really want to *feel* fast.
  3. I don’t run far enough. I’ve been training for a half marathon and running 15-25 miles per week. This is 20 miles more per week than a couple months ago, when I largely did the elliptical and ran just one day per week. But, then, I read the running blogs (those damn running blogs!) and see how these women think a 35-mile week is in the slacker zone. Ugh. Really? To be sure, I know there are plenty of folks who think my 20-mile weeks are intense, and also, I know, who really cares?! If you’re running, you’re running. It’s good for you, no matter the distance. And I know that I’m being smart about my progress — protecting my knees and hips — and building my stamina. Yet, I feel myself getting attached to the numbers. (Note to self: Just like expectations, attachments are bullshit. Down with getting attached!) (I’m really throwing around a lot of exclamation points in this post, aren’t I? I am heated.)
  4. I don’t want to run today. F*ck those people who like to workout every day. Well, shit. I guess this one is about making comparisons, too. I find myself wanting to b*tch-slap (sorry) those people who say they LOVE to workout every day and they hardly take rest days (because they just don’t feel like it!) and they even do double days (because they have so much energy!) and they just love, love, LOVE the gym. There are days I hate the gym. All those sweaty people, all that stank. And there are days when running sounds, um, stupid. On those days, I just want to curl up on the couch and eat a grilled cheese and not feel guilty about being lazy. (But I do feel guilty. Sometimes. Other times, I feel wildly indulgent — and I like that.) (Secondly, you know I just want to b*tch-slap those people because I’m actually jealous of them, right?)
  5. I should stop running. This one is rolled in with all of the others. As soon as I start the self-defeating talk, I begin to think, Well, maybe I’m not a runner. Maybe I should give this up. Maybe I shouldn’t sign up for anymore races. The ol’ fear of failure. If I’m not going to be any good at this, I’ll just quit. I’ll show running who’s boss. And then I remind myself how much more fun I’ve been having since I’ve been running regularly. And how strong it’s made me feel. And how it’s been the only thing to get me through a few really, terribly shitty days. So I should thank running.
  6. My stomach doesn’t look like a runner’s stomach. (This is another variation of I should stop running. See, also, I’m acting vain and ridiculous.) When I first increased my workouts from 3 per week (1 Zumba day, 1 elliptical day and 1 run or weights day) to 5-6 per week (3 run days, 1-2 weights days, 1 boot camp day), I noticed an immediate change in my body. I was stronger, leaner and more toned. I had little muscles popping out in exciting places. I felt gloriously fit. I also felt extraordinarily hungry. Burning a lot of calories will do that to you, I guess. So I started eating a lot more. And I don’t always make the wisest choices (French fries and an IPA, anyone?). And my body just kind of tipped back to where it was. Which is not to say it tipped back to anything I shouldn’t be grateful of. It’s just … well … I guess I think if I’m running three times more, I should miraculously have the stomach I’ve always dreamed of. I should be able to, like, parade around in my sports bra and look like hot shit. I should get to eat cake and still have a six-pack. Well, darn. I’m realizing that it doesn’t really work like that.

Huh, this is turning into a much longer rant than I expected.

Here’s the thing. I know that these issues aren’t unique to me. It’s normal to feel frustrated, disappointed, even envious, when we don’t see the results that we expect.

But it ain’t a good thing to get wrapped up in these thoughts. It’s a lonely, self-absorbed spot to sit in.

So, when I’ve been feeling the above (and it’s been more frequently than I’d like to admit as of late), I repeat to myself one or more (or all) of the following:

  1. Shut up. You’re healthy. 
  2. Shut up. You’re alive.
  3. Shut up. Your body is awesome. 
  4. Shut up. You’re lucky to live in a beautiful town where you can safely run outside all year long.
  5. Shut up. Get moving.

I should probably drop the “shut ups” and be gentler with myself. But it works better this way. If I’m going to come at myself with asshole complaints, I should fight those complaints with equal fervor.

I also like to tell myself to shut up because I’ve really taken to the blog, Shut Up and Run. If it works for her, it works for me. If you need to get motivated and back in your running shoes, read this and then this.

I’m going to stop here because this is enough crap talk (and enough exclamation points) for one day.

But, tell me: How do you stay motivated? How do you counter your negative thoughts about running? What’s your go-to pick-me-up?

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