There’s this thing about training.
Having a goal, working towards it, and (hopefully) realizing it is one of the most rewarding things for an athlete. Of course, a focus on improvement and growth requires an attention to details. For us runners, these details are times and paces and distances and the minutia of covering said distances in particular times to practice particular paces. Even for distance runners, seconds mean a lot.
Being aware of these stats is necessary but it can also make us lose sight of the larger picture. This thing about training? The very details that help us to become better athletes can also get in our heads and be detrimental to improvement.
This is something I struggle with…a lot. Years of battling perfectionist tendencies mean that if I don’t hit the numbers I’m “supposed” to, I feel like a failure. Folks, failure is a strong word…and it’s a stronger feeling. Take my word for it, it is not a pleasant sensation.
Rationally, I know this isn’t the way to approach less than stellar workouts and races. There is almost always a reason for missed times – sickness, not enough sleep, allergies, not enough of the right fuel, weather, an “off” day, etc, etc – that has nothing to do with one’s true ability. Furthermore, there is always something positive in every. single. run. Even “bad” runs can teach us something good. Managing expectations, handling defeat, practicing humility – these are all valuable lessons to learn. This is something I tell my athletes all the time. I preach it…but I still struggle to practice it.
I am not perfect. I am a work in progress.
As I’ve grown as a runner, I’ve become better at identifying the good and constructive parts of my own rough workouts. However, I’m not proud to admit that I still tend to have an initial reaction (meltdown might be a better word for it) that my poor coach gets the honor of hearing. Just this morning, a text not worthy for public consumption was sent his way…bless his heart. Poor guy…
But, I digress…
Point is, five minutes after sending that text, I had already hopped on the Positivity Train. I was able to ascertain a couple of reasons why my times were off this morning and that made me feel better. Evaluating reasons, stepping back and seeing my workout as simply that – a workout – and not an indicator of my worth as a runner, put the past hour-and-a-half into perspective and dampened any residual disappointment. I stepped away from the details and put this morning’s intervals in their proper place – ONE workout amongst the MANY that will get me to my goal. A literal drop of sweat (or a few hundred drops – I sweat like a pig) in the bucket.
On the road to greatness, we are all works in progress. We are all imperfect. BUT. That doesn’t mean that we can’t be great. Great athletes are not those that never fail. Great athletes are those that don’t let failure get the best of them. One workout, one long run, one race…in the grand scheme of things, each of those things doesn’t equate to much.
Putting our disappointments into perspective. Considering the larger picture and finding the positive in every run. That, my friends, is the key to success.