Many people criticize what others do. Some make a career out of it, such as movie and book critics, but those are not the ones I’m talking about. Runners don’t escape the critic’s notice.
How can you spend so much time running rather than with your family?
Think of what you could do with the money you spend on shoes and race fees?
Your race metals hanging on your office wall make others feel bad. Is that your wall of bragging?
Is it really fair to you family that all your vacations revolve around your running?
Why do you like to be alone all the time?
Is running more important than hanging out with your friends?
This type of criticism is sort of easy to brush aside. Some of us do feel a little guilty about the amount of time we spend running rather than with family and friends, but it’s easy to justify. Running makes me a better parent, sister, son, friend, and whatever. And there’s always the classic response, “You’re welcome to join me anytime if you want to hang out.”
Our worst and most difficult critic is the one in our heads. It tends to be much more cruel and has higher expectations than others do. It echoes all of the above statements and adds to the list.
It’s hard to get out and train some days and god forbid you miss a workout. If you do, the internal critic is all over that shit with, “You’re lazy, you’re going to get slow, and how do you ever expect to finish a race when you can’t even do a training run.” These are all beautiful guilt ridden statements.
I suppose they motivate you to move your ass sometimes, but there are so much better ways to get yourself going and sometimes it’s best to take a rest day or have an easy day. Step back and think about what you would say to a friend or training partner doing so can put things in to perspective.
When we don’t hit our goals, it can get ugly inside our heads too. “You should have trained more or harder.” “You had some left in the tank and could have passed one or two more people.” “You’re really not as good as you think.” “You’ll never make it.”
When we have an injury… “Don’t be a baby, it’s nothing.” “You’re weak.”
The mental side of running is more difficult to deal with than the physical training. These thoughts come so “naturally” to many of us that it’s impossible to stop them entirely. You have to prepare for them and learn how to counter act them.
When they show up during a race, they can shut you down and become the infamous self-fulfilling prophecy. Self-sabotage is another great way of thinking about it.
Ignoring the critic or telling it to shut up is not enough. You have to have examples to prove it wrong. This means you need to hang onto and store your successes. Those moments were you thought, “I did it.” Most importantly, the moments where you pushed through a particularly difficult run regardless of the reason it was difficult.
These successes are your secret weapon so keep them safe and close at hand. Then when the critic starts with its stream of negativity, you can pull out your triumphs.