Vulnerability

This morning was tough. I had a pretty crazy week after a packed weekend and I woke up this morning after 9 hours of sleep, exhausted and full of doubt about my 14 mile long run. I did 14 miles last weekend, but it was along a towpath and this week I was going to be hitting the Long Path which is more technical (though not very at parts) with much more up and down than I did last week. In addition, it was going to be heating up pretty quickly and with a storm on the horizon for early afternoon the humidity was high, too. I made the call to flip my runs opting for 5 miles this morning and 14 tomorrow when it should be much cooler and I have another night to bank more sleep.

I actually ended up going back to sleep for an hour and a half this morning after getting up and eating. I had some friends running a 10K and had set up tracking, but a few minutes after the start had passed out. Upon awaking, I realized I had missed all of their finishes and felt like a jerk. Then I saw their times. I struggled during a 3.2 race last week that I had unexpectedly decided to race and some of them did quite well and at almost double the distance. It was late enough in the morning that other friends were posting about their long runs that they hadn’t decided to skip. I was feeling pretty low and like a failure. And the last thing I wanted to do was run. Especially now that it was late morning and the heat of the day was setting in. Luckily a friend was available to run with me and willing to take it much slower than she typically does so the 5 miles ended up being not as miserable as they could have been.

It’s interesting to me, mornings like these. I like to think that I don’t care what others do because all of my goals are personal and not externally driven, but I can’t help to look at my peers–especially those who I have typically been aligned with in regards to performance–and use them as some form of a measuring stick at times. I know my training and goals are completely different as is my life, but when it comes to being critical it is certainly easy for me to feel badly when I don’t measure up despite the reasons. I am training for my first 50k for goodness sakes and recovering from an injury that kept me from running for a month. Sometimes it is hard to keep things in perspective. And if I am being completely honest, I am still not 100% confident that I can even complete the training plan that I have selected for myself. It scares me a little. (Which is part of why I picked it.)

“Teams would be advised to put their strongest runner on this leg of Hood to Coast. Leg Nine’s runner encounters a scene from the Great Dustbowl in his or her second stage, and the third stage is eight miles long, which is, well, just plain long. Stamina, fortitude, and confidence are essential for this runner.”

I saw this in a blog post and texted it to a good friend (who is also a badass runner) in regards to my legs for Hood to Coast. Oh yeah, I haven’t mentioned yet that is happening. I got an offer to join a team last weekend and took them up on it. I asked to be runner #9 based on mileage without realizing the difficulty of the individual legs. (I will post soon about this particular race so don’t worry if you don’t have all the context.) Anywho, this person told me that not only am I the strongest runner in our van, but on our team. This makes absolutely no sense to me, but it made me realize something. Despite knowing that I am strong based on my own circumstances, I in no way have confidence that I am the truly strong especially in comparison to others. And I would say for the most part, I think everyone else is way more badass and strong than me. With all of my silly little health issues, injuries, and peculiarities, I sometimes feel like this frail bird or like I need to overcome being this frail bird. I totally discount the fact that it is exactly what makes me strong. If there is anything that I can do, it is persevere. And I think tenacity is one of my strongest qualities. (Tenacious B!) But it’s that deficit that makes me feel like I am always operating from that plays games with my head. I am starting behind y’all, not with, so I will always be behind.

This is something that I have identified as needing to be worked on and I find myself in the unique position of coaching myself here. What would I do if an athlete were to have similar issues? How would I help them to realize not just how strong they are, but how to disassociate that with their perceived deficit? I don’t have the answers yet, but I do know that this will make me a better an athlete and coach.

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