Hi Friends! Welcome to this week’s edition of Tuesday’s on the Run. I’m linking up today with Marcia of Marcia’s Healthy Slice to talk about the best running advice I ever received. Of course we have all heard tons of good advice – get good shoes, fuel properly, make sure you strength train, etc. And, while that is all great advice, the best advice I have ever received had nothing to do with the physical aspect of running, instead it was all mental.
I have gotten a lot of good advice, especially when I first started. I still continue to learn and grow and look to others in the running community for advice on anything to do with running. I’m like a sponge! But, when I first thought about this topic, one experience and piece of advice kept coming back to me. So, let me set the scene for you so you understand why this one piece of advice has always stuck with me.
When I started running, I did it as a way to help me lose weight. Once it started coming easier to me, I let my friend talk me into running a race. It was a 5K and to say I was nervous was an understatement! Of course my goal was to just finish, (or at least that was the goal that I said out loud) but I had been somewhat training, and I knew the time frame that I wanted to finish in. I had looked up the times of finishers the year before and deep down I really wanted to place in my age group. I had consistently been running a 5k in a good time, and that would have earned me a medal. I’m really competitive, and if I’m going to do it, I am going to win. That was my mindset, and all that did was set me up for disappointment.
My first mistake was that I didn’t take into consideration all of the hills. I had only been running on a flat route, so of course my time was faster. I also was still learning how to pace myself and so I took off too fast. I ran the first two miles in 18 minutes. Then I started struggling. My asthma was bothering me and I couldn’t breathe. I ended up having to walk the entire last mile and it took me a really long time. People kept passing me and it was just making me mad! I think my finishing time was around 35 minutes. Instead of being happy that I finished, I was so embarrassed! I was so upset and mad at myself for starting too fast. All my family and a couple of my friends that had run with me were waiting at the finish line. And, when I crossed that finish line, instead of being happy or excited, all I felt was disappointment – because in my head, I had finished with a bad time. At that point, I was done! I didn’t want to race ever again!
A few days later, I was talking to a woman who had run the race. She used to be one of my teachers in high school and is someone that I respected. So, I really listened to her advice. She asked me about the race, and I started whining about how bad I did, and how I didn’t place. She stopped my little pity part and told me that my time didn’t matter and that I needed to stop comparing myself to other people and be proud of my accomplishment. She said that the only person that I needed to be in competition with was myself.
That piece of advice has stuck with ever since then and helped me to race again, so I could beat my own time. She gave me a whole new perspective on competition. I realized that I’m probably not going to place in 99% of the races that I do, but that doesn’t matter because I run for me and for fun. For the first time I realized that I can’t compare myself to anyone because everyone has good days and bad days, good races and bad races, and that where I am on my journey is totally different then where someone else is. Of course I’m still competitive; I think it helps to motivate me. But, I stopped being so irrational and feeling like I failed when I actually did the opposite!
What’s the best running advice you’ve ever gotten? What is the best advice you could give?