self doubt

Confessions From The Queen Of Excuses

I am my own worst enemy when it comes to my running.  In a perfect world I would want and get to run every single day.  I would never get injured.  Every run would result in the elusive runner’s high.  Unfortunately life is decidedly not like that and won’t be anytime soon unless I win the lottery.  Of course, I would have to buy a ticket, but I digress…

The reality of my life is such that I should be able to run as often as I want/need to.  I’m a stay at home parent.  We don’t fill our days so full that there is no opportunity to run.

Recently, however, my brain is not allowing me to realize this.  Someone out there must feel that they identify with the following excuses at least one; please tell me I’m not alone!:
  • It’s too cold (seasonal – sometimes it’s too hot).
  • It’s raining too hard.
  • It’s too early/late/dark.
  • Spud is heavy in the stroller.
  • Spud will only sit still for about 20 minutes – if I’m lucky – before he wants to get out to run.
  • I just don’t feel like it.
  • I feel like I’m holding other people back since I’ve lost all my speed.
  • I’m self-conscious about the weight I’ve gained over the summer and how I look in my running clothes (I’m not overweight, but am not comfortable with my current weight).
I am stuck in a vicious cycle.  I make excuses, don’t run, feel fat and lazy, still don’t run because I don’t see the point, and all that serves to do is perpetuate those feelings.  I know that self doubt and a lack of motivation are my main issues.  If I don’t have a desire to haul my butt out the door I won’t go.  Eventually to get back on track I’m going to have to ignore the extremely loud voice in my head that is telling me I’m not good enough and that I should quit.  Short of a frontal lobotomy I’m still trying to figure out how to effectively do that.

There are excuses I need to tell to shove it right off the bat.  Weather can’t be an excuse.  I live in Vancouver, BC, for Pete’s sake!  It’s going to rain and it’s going to rain often.  My weight can eff off too.  Yes, I’m feeling bad about it.  Mainly because I am comparing myself to how I looked back in May after a full marathon training cycle.  I notice it far more than anyone else and am my worst critic.  I need to get back the mentality I had when I bought my first pair of tights.  I cannot see myself running down the road.  So what if things are moving about?  If anything at least I can say that I made an effort to get out and better myself.

The time of day is a huge issue for me simply because I can’t go out early or late on my own.  Neither Colin nor I are comfortable with it.  We don’t live in a terrible neighbourhood, but prefer that I don’t take the risk.  If any of my friends reading this are interested in either early, early or post-kiddo-bedtime runs message me!

My struggle really lays with the oft-cursed stroller, the expectations of a 4-1/2 year old, and my willingness to deal with both.  It is far too easy to say it’s too much effort to get everything together for a >1 hour run.  And yes, it is easier (and warmer, drier, etc) to stay home.  But I’m only doing myself a disservice.  In the long run – totally unintentional pun – no one cares if I run but me (well, maybe Colin, but that’s because he has to live with me).

What I need is to be held accountable.  Ask me how my non-training running is doing.  Come January ask how my marathon training is progressing.  Ask if I sucked it up, threw on the rain cover, and took Spud out with me.  Essentially, continue to give me the kick in the butt I so obviously am in need of.

The best I can do is try, but I know that I need to because, at the end of the day, it’s about taking care of myself and setting a good example for Spud.  It’s about what I do and about how I feel about myself.

Mind Games

How does one tell their brain to shut up?  Do you know?  Because I really need to start ignoring the garbage that mine comes up with.  I have had two really good runs this week and they should be confidence boosting, but they just haven’t been.  I don’t know if it’s because I still am identifying with the old slower me or if it’s fear.  I haven’t been able to be proud of these runs.  Actually, that’s not totally true.  I was doing a happy dance around our kitchen on Sunday, but for some reason I’ve stopped.

On Sunday we dropped Spud with friends for an early morning playdate and then headed to the store for our group 16km run.  I don’t run with Colin due to obvious speed discrepancy issues.  I’ve tried to be pretty consistent and keep with the same long run group each week.  I found early on that I can keep up with the 4 hour marathon group which runs a 6:22 – 7:11/km (10:15 – 11:33/mi).  I always find that the first 5 kilometres or so are my worst so I wasn’t too worried that I was on the slow end of the pace.  As the run went on I settled in nicely with a few other ladies.  The route was a long rolling out and back up to the watershed (had to touch the fence!).  I ran so I could talk and had a good run.  The second half was great!  I think we finished at about a 6:55/km pace (and that was with doing 20 + 1s).  

I know my problem with this run.  My brain.  It keeps telling me that it was a fluke.  That I didn’t really belong.  That the people I ran with are SO MUCH faster than me.  Intimidated, much?  It’s like I have a sign on my forehead that says “Not Good Enough”, but only I can see it.  I shouldn’t be competing against anyone but myself.  And not even against myself on a long run.

And then there was today’s run.  I went out with my friend Lindsay with whom I run once a week.  Because she brought a friend along I ran an extra 2-1/2km each way to meet up in a convenient spot.  It actually worked out well that I had a long run today (17km) since I wasn’t going to be able to do my 10km run tomorrow due to another running partner being out of town.  So I rolled two tempo runs into a long steady run with Spud.  I figure that the weight cancels out the speed of the others and I’ll come out even.  Anyways, once we met up we ran out along a trail for 40 minutes, turned around, I ran a little extra so Spud could go over a bridge and back (never promise a 3 year old anything), and then I ran home.  All told I was out for over 2 hours.  I’m not fast when I have the stroller and I walked up all the hills that were even remotely steep.  The weather was decent – a drizzle that was more like mist – and the company was good.

I know my problem with this run.  My brain.  It keeps telling me that I’m slow.  HELLO?!?  I was pushing 60+lbs of stroller and kid.  Anybody would be slow.  And really, an 8:11/km with walking up hills and stopping to attend to the whims of a toddler isn’t shabby.

So where do I go from here?  I obviously know what my problem is.  I just don’t quite know how to fix it.  There’s no easy off switch for this.  I can’t keep comparing myself to other runners.  Especially ones that aren’t really faster than me.  And I can’t keep telling myself that I’m slow.  A middle-of-the-pack runner, yes.  Slow, not so much anymore.  

I think I’d really benefit from reading about positive self-talk.  I read a book a while ago that touched on it, but I don’t remember too much (and it was relatively old).  Do any of you have suggestions for hippy dippy mumbo jumbo running/sports psychology books?