Sunday, June 9, 2013

Optimist or Pessimist....Half Full or Half Empty ?

Today I have come to ask you a question:  Is your running cup half empty, or half full ?  Is your race half over, or have have way to go ?  Is your performance better than it was, or not where you want it to be ?

Your performance.  That's really what it's all about, isn't it ?  And this goes beyond running, and weight loss, and trips to the gym.  This is about Life.  Is your Life where you want it to be, or a living example of where you have fallen short ?

Let's start with the running aspect of these questions. ( I'll address these in a running specific way, and let you make inferences about how these ideas can be applied to life outside of running )  You get up early, and bypass the snooze button that most people use.  You  have some carefully considered calories, when many pick up their breakfast at a drive-through, and you start pounding the pavement before most people have even taken their first glimpse of themselves in the mirror.  For the evening runner, you may have gotten to bed later than you wanted to get those few extra miles in, you may have skipped the night-out-with-the-guys, to make sure you got to the track for your speedwork, you might have missed dinner with the family so you could get some miles in before the sun went down.

Now...here you are....striding away with your stopwatch judging you, and your playlist encouraging you, and you see yourself as falling short.  Your coworkers and friends are either still in bed, or already settled on the couch for the night, while you are hitting the hills to develop your quads, running intervals to expand your VO2Max, and racking up mile after mile in pursuit of your next PR, longest distance run, or victory over that person you've been trying to best for weeks, who may not even know you exist, and yet, for many of you, your successes are eclipsed by your shortcomings.

I think all people have that little voice of negativity and self doubt. For some reason, that voice is louder in runners. I don't know if runners have a propensity for negativity, or if people with inherent insecurities are drawn to running, but as a group, we, as runners, tend to see what we have failed to accomplish, rather than what we have accomplished.  When we have worked so hard to get our race PR below a nice round number simply because it is a number that is round and nice, we forget that not that long ago, our PR was just above a much larger nice, round number.  Our weight was higher, as was our cholesterol, and resting heart rate. Our endurance was lower, as was our speed, fitness, and over all feeling of well being.

Every day that you lace up your shoes, and log some miles is a day that you have accomplished something.  DO NOT choose to look at what you didn't accomplish.  It is counter productive and only serves to feed and strengthen that part of you that doesn't want you to succeed.  That darker side of your personality that manifests itself as insecurity and self doubt, that gets louder as you get tireder, that seems more logical as your runs go longer, that tells you that you should take the night off, when a little part of you knows you should run, that's the voice that we are running from.  That voice is the voice of everything bad we've ever felt about ourselves, and we can vanquish it on a daily basis,  by putting in the miles, and taking pride in our accomplishments.  We may not have run as far or as fast as we wanted, but dammit, we were out there, logging the miles, scoffing at the weather, and pushing ourselves to, and beyond limits that may exist only for us, and only in our mind, but they are just as real as the 4 minute mile was to runners in the 50's, as putting a man on the moon was to scientists in the 60's, and as portable computers were to geeks of the 70's.  Don't be limited by your own negativity.  Don't look at the time barrier you haven't broken yet, or the distance you haven't covered yet.  Think back to when you couldn't run more than a mile or so without feeling like death was a viable option.  Remember when running a 5k and living to tell the tale was your Everest.  You have come a long, long way, and need to remind yourself of that fact.  You are not the runner you were 3 or 4 months ago.  You have gotten significantly better and will never really give yourself credit for the improvements you've made.  Keep a log and flip back a few months every once in a while. Read about how you felt when you finished a run that was half of what you're doing now.  You are improving, and growing, and becoming more of the person you want to be.  Pay attention to that, and it will happen more for you.  You will thank yourself for it, and those around you will appreciate you for it.

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