It’s about beating yourself…

It’s about beating yourself…

…NOT beating yourself up.

On Saturday, I did my first solo long distance run (a little over 7 miles) without music. Since the beginning of training, I’ve relied heavily on music or running with someone else to motivate me. I had it in the back of my mind that I should do some running without music, really just me and my thoughts. But I put it off. It sounded scary, like writing memoir. And then last week I misplaced my iPod charger and I’d really rather buy some of those nice running capris instead of a new charger so…about half a mile into training the music went kaput.

It was really quiet. Not crickets. Birds. Leaves. Traffic. My water bottles sloshing around. Leaves. Squirrel. Other runners. Running like this will be easy, I thought.

And then it was really loud. Loud about all the things I’d been stressed out about. That was the part I was afraid of – the beating myself up. And beat myself up I did. Every minor and major mistake of the week (and you know we all make mistakes every week) zoomed right up to the top of my thoughts and made me feel like absolute crap about myself, my life, and my existence. At the height of the loud, I’d mentally quit my job, ended my relationship, and moved myself out to an isolated farm to live as a hermit. And in only five minutes of hearing my thoughts!!

But then, something really cool happened. I started accepting the mistakes. I mentally took responsibility for the ones that were mine and I cast off the ones that weren’t mine but I took on by extension (I do that a lot). New things cropped up and I sent them packing. It was like meditating or free writing except that I was out on a team training so I couldn’t stop writing when things got tough or fall asleep while meditating or eat chocolate ice cream instead.

And then everything just cleared and I could focus on running. Which is plenty to focus on all by itself because I upped my interval time so I’m running 4 minutes and walking 2 minutes. Early on in the run, I felt like I could have run longer, but I made myself stop to walk. And I’m so glad I did because stopping there meant I could maintain my 4/2 pace for the entire run. I only had one or two ¬†interval in the middle where I ran 3 then walked 2. That was around mile 3.5 so I decided to eat some of my pomegranate honey stingers (yummy running food – look out for a post on running nutrition soon) and that really solved the problem. They were a little heavy in the tummy, but gave me a great energy boost. I felt so good about my progress at the end of the run that I just wanted to keep going. And I would have except that team training was over and I was really hungry. I think I need to double what I’ve been eating for breakfast before runs.

All this crazy word vomit to say that running is really teaching me a lot about life. I keep hearing that I shouldn’t compare myself to other runners, I should only compare myself to myself because ultimately running, especially endurance races, is all about beating that little voice in my head that makes me want to quit (hello, you rascal). And you know what? I’m really good at not comparing myself to other runners. I keep my time and I’m proud of my progress. But I’m not good at just comparing myself to myself in writing, work, etc. I’m always comparing myself to others thinking “that’s where I should be” or “I should know how to do that by now” or “I should be better than that mistake.” I almost never look at the progress I’ve made and tell myself I’m proud of it. Maybe I should.

Definitely I should.

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