A twist on stealing a runner’s glory.

by Melissa on October 11, 2012

I was driving down the main road that leads me from our new house to the city for class yesterday…windows and sunroof open, sweatshirt on, leaves flying all around me on a windy day, 64º and sunny, some John Mayer playing…and I have to say, it was pretty glorious.

Actually, it was really glorious. This is my kind of weather.

I’d hear the sounds of all the crisp leaves that were falling to the ground crunch under my tires as I drove over them, and I would instantly see images of my feet hitting the ground.

Running.

Fall is made for running. (Or is running made for fall? Either way.)

I love the dry, fresh air. Everything seems so much clearer…cleaner. I love the foliage here in SW Virginia. There’s nothing like it.

When I got to the stoplight, I checked my email, and I saw a comment regarding my last post where I’d mentioned I’d finally gotten back up to three miles. I’ve been fighting obscenely tight calves and hips/glutes, and I’ve been worrying, far more than I care to admit, that I might not bet cut out for this after all. (Maybe I should disable commenting today…I fear y’all might smack me around for that one.)

Anyways, back to the comment. It was a nice comment. A lift-you-up-and-keep-rockin’ kind of comment. You know…the kind for which this community is known.

You know what I did, though?

I cringed.

I cringed!? Why? Who does that?

…I can almost guarantee every single one of us has done it…

It’s a case of I’m my own biggest critic.

Most of us worry about what others think about our running…whether we’re fast enough, run long enough, or whether we even look like a runner. When we’ve had a setback, we’re so worried about getting back in there and hitting that pavement and seeing those higher miles again. God forbid we just relax and listen to our bodies and let things happen.

We focus on being the best…on getting that PR…on reaching that high every. single. time.

95% of the time, we’re greeted with comrades that will cheer us on, pump us up, and give us virtual ass slaps. Well, even some physical ass slaps…but for me they’re all virtual. Haha.

Yet, on the inside, we’re constantly critical of ourselves.

I realized this yesterday, because the day that I had run, I wanted to just give up. I’m not ready. I’m not strong enough. There’s no way I can get to half distance by November 18th.

And then I remembered something. Something I’m still working on.

running inspiration images

So I busted through those three miles, stretching my calves halfway through, and I felt amazing afterward. I’m heading in the right direction.

The next day is when I got that comment. Several of them, actually…and while I should (which I am now) have been grateful for them, just as I always have been, I whined inside.

“Ohhhhhh, a measly three miles…big freaking deal! You should be running much farther than that.”

I’m so sorry. I went there. (I think I might leave commenting enabled. I’m ready for it. Haha.)

First of all, who am I? Where did that “big measly three miles” come from? What am I? An elite ultramarathoner or something? Guess I missed being crowned that one to be able call three miles measly. I am just me. Two steps forward, one step back sometimes. Injuries and/or setbacks happen. Three miles is NOT NOT NOT something to scoff at. I couldn’t run a freaking half a mile two and a half years ago. So why am I behaving like this?

It’s not because I’m a run-snob.

It’s because I’m often times way too hard on myself. I can write post after post about stealing the glory out of someone’s run and still, in the back of my mind, question myself as a runner. I’m stealing my own glory.

But why am I being such an asshole to myself? Really. Why? I’m not sure.

I asked my nutrition professor about what she’d consider to be my physical activity number for an assignment we’ve got coming up, explaining to her what my normal daily routine is and how much I run and how often. (She’s a well-seasoned marathoner, by the way. *swoon* I love her class.) She asked about what kind of mileage I’m seeing during the week before my long run. As soon as I went to say “only three”, she said, “Three, right?”

See. Three is something. Three miles is three miles.  That’s 15840 feet.

That’s 15840 feet that a lot of people can’t run…whether yet or at all.

I’m instantly brought back to reality.

It’s all about perspective. It’s about remembering where you started. It’s about remembering that you, too, are a runner, just like everyone else and that you deserve your own support, too.

I’m going to leave this post at that but asking you to do one thing:

No more worrying about what other runners think of your pace or your distance…take a few minutes to think about the last time you scoffed at an accomplishment (even little) because you’re too critical of yourself. Lift yourself up. Remember those very first steps…and look back at that newbie and pat him or her on the back. You deserve it.

This isn’t about anyone else but you.

***

Oh! Before I forget! I’m guest posting on Tina‘s blog today! Another LLR recipe for you – Chicken Tikka Masala! (Thanks again, Tina!)

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather (Where's the Beach) October 11, 2012 at 10:05 am

Great post – I know I tend to steal my own thunder all the time! We really can be such assholes to ourselves can’t we? And you should be proud of those miles. I’m always proud of anyone out there trying period. It takes far more dedication, courage, and inner strength to get out there than it does to come up with excuses.

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Melissa October 11, 2012 at 10:09 am

I know! We’re always so quick to jump on people who are bringing others down…and yet, we do it to ourselves! We should be proud of any miles we can get in, because, as you said, it takes more dedication, courage, and inner strength to get out there. AMEN. <3

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Heather October 11, 2012 at 10:13 am

So funny, I was just thinking about this the other day. Someone asked me how far I was planning to run and I said “oh, just 5 miles”…then I stopped for a second and thought “Hold on…JUST 5 miles?! Remember when you thought it was a big deal to run TWO?!?!”

It’s good to take a step back and have a little reality check every once in awhile about how far you’ve come. I think both of us tend to focus on how far we have to go instead, and that can be really tough ;o)

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Melissa October 11, 2012 at 10:20 am

I’ve noticed a HUGE difference in my running this week. I just needed a couple of weeks of really tough, getting-back-in-there runs to get to this week…now I’m feeling so much better and as if my legs are back.

And it’s funny, because we say, “Oh, just 5 miles…” and while we probably don’t mean for it to be a jab at how much we do, it is…it downplays the effort that goes into those miles!

PS: So wish you were doing Star City this year…

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Heather October 11, 2012 at 10:37 am

Me too! Next year for sure (assuming I don’t HATE running this half I have coming up…

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Jill (Lady Lazarus) October 11, 2012 at 10:28 am

I so totally could have written this post. I do the same thing after my three mile runs, thinking I should be running longer distances even though at the beginning of the year I wasn’t running at all. And I do compare my distance and pace to other runners I follow on Twitter and such and you’re right, I need to stop doing that!

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Erica {EricaDHouse.com} October 11, 2012 at 10:35 am

Love.Love.Love.

I’m definitely a huge asshole to myself as well – but praise anyone else who can manage to run 3 miles!

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Jenna October 11, 2012 at 10:58 am

You’re so right!! We are our own worst critic! It’s what pushes us to do better and improve!! Just make sure you’re still proud of how great you are and for all PF your efforts!! You rock! Spa love!!! :0)

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Leah @ Chocolate and Wild Air October 11, 2012 at 11:07 am

We really are our own worst critic. It’s our darn human nature! Glad you recognize this and are able to work towards showing yourself some love instead :)

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Kylie October 11, 2012 at 11:37 am

Needed this this AM! I was supposed to do 8 but because I was pushing my son we had to cut it short as it was quite cold here in MI. And I’ve been kicking myself all morning about it. (safety first though) I am running my first full next week and have been questioning if I’m ready. Your post helped me get rid of some of the self-doubt.

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Christine @ Love, Life, Surf October 11, 2012 at 11:45 am

This is such a great post Melissa. I do absolutely the same, not just about running. I downplay what I’ve accomplished all.the.freaking.time. And it’s annoying and I need to stop.We should be proud of every single thing that we did. I almost typed, “every single little thing,” but you know what? Nothing’s little. It’s all big when we try and put our heart in it.

PS your photos are gorgeous! I’m waiting for the leaves to turn here in NYC

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Amanda @RunToTheFinish October 11, 2012 at 12:18 pm

we are definitely our own worst enemies. Part of the reason i haven’t posted some about how bad I feel is because I just can’t take another well meaning “you’ll be ok” comment. I love them for the kindness and sincerity and yet sometimes just can’t do it ya know. the only advice I can offer is stay in the moment…don’t think back about what you used to run or forward to what you can but just in that moment how good you feel and how nice it is that people care

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jobo October 11, 2012 at 12:30 pm

My Gosh, YES!! stop being an asshole to yourself!! Yes I just wanted to say that and laugh because it is so freaking true, isn’t it? We treat ourselves like shit sometimes yet we’d NEVER say ‘only three miles’ to anyone else, BUT ourselves. Sheer craziness. It’s the overthinking crazies in our brains that do it, I swear. Because when you say it out loud, it sounds downright ridiculous. I am GLAD you wrote this post, a twist on stealing running joy, because you WERE stealing your own run-glory joy rather than owning it. I do this too and need to stop. It’s not quantity, it’s quality. Run to run, right? XOXO love this!

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Katie H. October 11, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Love this! My husband called me out for the same thing a couple of weeks ago. I complained on a Saturday because “I didn’t get to do a long run, I just ran seven miles.” “Only seven miles,” he repeated sarcastically. And I realized how right he is. There I was feeling like I couldn’t have pizza for dinner that night because I’d “only” run seven miles. Sometimes we need that wake-up call.

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Lisa @ RunWiki October 11, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Yes, I just did this on my last race. I only Pr’ed by 4 seconds and you would think I completely bombed my race with how I spoke of it. Thank you for the reminder to not be so critical. I would never speak to someone else the way I spoke to myself, why should I treat myself this way?

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misszippy October 11, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Giving you a virtual high five right now! Well done on getting the perspective of it all. EVERYONE struggles with the “am I fast enough,” etc. feelings. And it’s all just silly. We love to run and should get all the enjoyment out of it we deserve. End of story!

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Jess October 11, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Tough love alert: STOP BEING AN A$$HOLE TO YOURSELF!!!!! Be your own best friend my dear…you are sabotaging your own efforts by letting that mind of yours gain control of your thoughts and it’s killing your run-confidence. Just stop. Stop stop stop. And enjoy each mile for what it is – a mile that YOU ran. Nobody else ran it for you. YOU did it. Who gives a crap how many miles that adds up to. You did it. End of story.

And PS? Something Scott told me anytime I’d start to fear the miles…stop letting your mind doubt you. Your body knows how to run 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10 miles. Just let it do the work and stop worrying about it doing the work. The body knows. (he’s a smart man isn’t he??)

xo!

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Melissa October 11, 2012 at 2:36 pm

I never even thought about the fact that my body knows how to run those miles now. I might recruit you two as running partners for a half or even a full…thinking about Chicago, of course, since my momma’s up there!

Thank you for your tough love, friend…I love that about you. You know what to say when to say it. Same with Jo. Will you guys move down here? lol

I have 4 planned for today. I’ll get ‘em. Fast or slow. Doesn’t matter. <3

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Amanda Perry @ Sistas of Strength October 11, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Another lovely post. :) (And great fall pics!)

We are so rough on ourselves…it’s really ridiculous. Great reminder to us all to not only be nicer to those around us, but also to ourselves!!

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Jenny @ simply be me October 11, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Great post! I’m guilty of using the word *just* in front of my mileage too often and need to stop.

We use that saying on our three year old all the time when he says he can’t do something :)

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Ericka @ The Sweet Life October 11, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Great post, reminds me of mine from earlier this week. I do love that feeling of driving, windows down, perfect day. Thanks for the “down to earth” reminder on loving the run and loving ourselves!

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Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) October 11, 2012 at 6:07 pm

Perspective is a huge thing that I work with my clients on! Everything is relative and we all have different ways of achieving a goal (heck even deciding on a goal). People always say, they want so and so’s arms or their legs, well, you have to look at yourself and realize that each milestone is an accomplishment and make reasonable goals that are attainable.

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Charlotte October 11, 2012 at 7:08 pm

We really are our own biggest critic! I beat myself up all the time. I even told myself the other day I wasted $120 because I’m not going to be ready for a full marathon in 19 weeks.

But we just need to tell ourselves to shut the h3%7 up. There is a reason that everyone from beginners to world class athletes have to TRAIN For distance events. Recovery takes time.. Training takes time. We all want to be a little faster or a little better…. But the problem is no two people are alike. Get outta your head girl, cause you’re fabulous!

xoxooooo

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Marcia October 11, 2012 at 8:26 pm

Love this! I’m guilty as charged as well, although I think I’m getting to be less of a self critic with age. I well remember thinking that if I could qualify for Boston, then it must not be that hard. Ugh. Unfair.

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Debbie@ Live from La Quinta October 11, 2012 at 11:40 pm

99% of the people in this country could not run 3 miles to save their lives. I think it happens when you are involved in a running community (or a blogging/running community) where everyone is like, oh, I just ran 18 miles, or I went for a short 10 miles run, and that makes 3 mile sound insignificant. But it is not. It is awesome! Remember that.

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Beth (@RunTraveler) October 15, 2012 at 11:23 pm

Excellent post!
First – gorgeous leaves. (I can live vicariously through you, since Florida has no fall foliage to speak of.) ;-)
Second – you are absolutely right. We so often downplay our own accomplishments… I’ve been struggling with that as I bounce back from an injury. I said, after my run on Sunday, “it was only 8 miles.” Um… only? Many people would think that was a marathon. Why did I disclaimer it???
I’m bookmarking this post for future reference.

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Kim December 23, 2013 at 6:15 am

Beautiful pictures by the way!

I am constantly comparing myself to other runners! Relatively speaking, I am not that fast. But, I love the challenge that running brings and just being able to set realistic goals for myself and actually reach them makes me feel better. I try to remember – there are people out there that can’t do this at all. Love your accomplishments!

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