Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Tough Love

This week I read a post by my friend Barb that was a bit of a wake-up call.  What I have to say here might piss some people off but mostly I hope it makes you think. In her post, she wrote:
"It seems that at least once a week, and usually more often, I see someone lamenting about how slow they are biking, running, swimming, or whatever. Or how they didn’t go far enough, or saying how horrible their workout was because…wait for it…they were injured."
I know I'm 100% guilty of this - in fact, her post could have been directed at me.  I'm coming back from injury (very slowly and not to my liking) and I admit that I'm not happy with how many of my runs have gone.  I know I've slammed myself on dailymile, twitter, and even in this space here.  However, Barb isn't pissed off just because I/we am/are beating ourselves up. She went on to say,
"Can you imagine how I feel reading a post that says something like, “Gah! I’m so slow, how can I even call myself a runner?” then looking at their pace and it’s 2, 3, 4, 5 minutes per mile faster than mine? Those people must look at my run reports and think I’m a total idiot for daring to call myself a runner. No? What else am I supposed to think reading posts like that? Of course they would never say disparaging things about my training, but you know what? They don’t have to. They’re putting me down just fine by treating themselves like that."
It has never been my intention to put someone else down (or cause them to feel that way) based upon how I feel about myself.   My perceptions of my performance (or my weight, my looks, whatever) are exactly that. MY perceptions about ME.  They are in no way a reflection of how I feel about them.  She's right - I would never say to someone else what I say to myself most days.  My Inner Mean Girl is a royal bitch, but she's only a bitch to me.  Just because I'm upset that I ran a 12 minute mile doesn't mean I'm any less proud of someone else who's run a 13 minute mile, or a 15 or 20 minute mile, or for that matter a 7 minute mile.  It means I feel like I didn't perform to MY potential. BUT...and this is a big one of my friends reminded me, every workout I do, the rest days I take, how I take care of my family and my job I do to make improve myself in some way.  Just because I was unhappy about a run doesn't mean I didn't learn something from it or get out of it what I needed, even if at the time I didn't realize it.  Every runner has their own set of abilities, talents, work ethic, nutrition, etc that affects how they run every single day.  How I run and how I feel about those runs are my feelings.  I'm comparing myself to me, although I've definitely been in Barb's position and fight very hard to not compare myself to runners who are much faster than me (and even to the runner I was a year ago because I don't have her abilities right now).

So, why is this being posted as part of "Thankful Thursday"? Because of what Barb went on to write. She wants to declare September to be "Celebrate Your Fitness" month.  Barb says,
"I pledge to celebrate every workout I do in September. I won’t put myself down just because my pace or distance was not what I had planned. I will celebrate the victory of that workout, which might be as simple as getting out when I really didn’t want to or as profound as a personal record. It doesn’t matter how big or small the victory seems at the time – I will celebrate it and ditch the negative."
She's giving us all a little tough love and a wake up call to celebrate what we do and why we do it.  Will I be 100% positive all month about my workouts?  I highly doubt it.  But I will try to focus more on being thankful for the ability to run what I'm capable of running, even if my performance isn't where I feel it should be.  

At the same time, I want to give Barb and anyone who has ever felt the way she has a little tough love, too.  (This includes myself, by the way.) Realize that we are proud of you for what YOU can accomplish.  We are individuals and just because we are hard on ourselves doesn't mean we feel the same way about you.  I don't want to read that someone felt bad because they didn't run as well as the next person or because they didn't lift as much weight or they took a rest day when someone else was working out.  But I also don't want to see someone getting complacent because, "I'll never be able to do as well as so-and-so."

Be the best person you can be. Be thankful for every workout you are able to fit in.  But also please stop making comparisons and thinking someone feels less of you just because they are hard on themselves. It simply isn't the case.

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