Saturday, October 30, 2010

Is "My Best" "Good Enough"??

I was reading an old Runner's World forum thread this morning and it's really got me thinking...which, as always, has me writing!

The original poster said:
I've been running for about three years now and I love it!  I've run in a couple dozen races from 5Ks to a half marathon and while I definitely want to keep improving, I am proud of how I've done so far. 

In all my training, there have only been two times EVER that I was unable to complete a run (due to bad shin splints), but I still have this weird issue: whether I'm racing or training, and whether I'm running 12 miles or 2, I always begin my runs nervous and with a nagging feeling that I won't be able to finish.  I know it's silly, and usually the feeling goes away almost as soon as I'm under way, but I can't shake it.... (emphasis mine)
I wish I could say I completely understand, but the truth is, I don't.  Not because I don't have that exact same feeling (duh...if you've read any of my posts you'd know I do)...I don't completely understand because, for me, that feeling doesn't stop until I reach the end of the run/work out/race. 

...a measuring stick...
Unfortunately, sometimes (maybe more often than not) that feeling derails me.  It doesn't usually keep me from starting (like the original poster).  It doesn't keep me from "finishing"...but what it does is prevents me from doing "my best".  I end up slowing down, or walking, in the middle of a run for no good reason other than my brain thinks I won't be able to keep it up.  I finish a work out/run with an overwhelming sense that I didn't give my very best effort....most of the time because I know I didn't.

The bad part is, I'm beginning to understand why...I think.  Fear of failure.  It's a cycle.  A bad cycle.  I start out worried I won't do "good enough".  At some point I slow down or walk because "I just can't do it" I don't end up doing "my best"...which reinforces the idea that I "can't" do it.  I've never quit a race, and I've never walked out on a work out....but I have slacked more than my fair share.

If this struggle sounds familiar to you, I wish I could say I have this thing figured out and wrap up the post in a neat little package, but I don't.  I'm still working on it for myself.  It's like an addict trying to tell another addict how to stop using.

But, I will say this....I think the key is to let go of any preconceived expectations, and give yourself (myself) full permission ......

See, I can't even finish my thought there because I was going to say "to do what feels right"....but that's crap.  If I only do what feels right at the time, I'll never get faster.  I'll never go further.  Because the truth is, training to do more is work.  And, the truth is "my best" changes every day.  My best in January was running 30 seconds at a time.  That "best" is certainly NOT good enough anymore!!

biking vs. running

What's funny....I don't feel that way when I bike.  I think the biggest reason is that I have NO experience at all on a bike so anything I do is going to be my best.  I asked a seasoned biker the other day what's a "good" speed and he said there was no way to answer that because there are so many factors-namely the wind-that can effect how fast you go.  I have nothing to compare myself to-not other bikers, but not even myself since I've only been on the bike three times!  So I don't start out afraid I won't do well, because I'm proud of anything I do on the bike.

Maybe that is the key (be proud of anything I do)....but how can I be proud of slowing down in a final 800m speed work interval when I was able to pull out a killer sprint the last 25-30 feet without even blinking an eye.  Speed work is sprint work, I shouldn't have been able to go even faster--I should have been going "fast" (doing my best) the whole time, right?? 

But, what IS my best???  How will I ever know if I don't give my full effort?  And, not only that, how will "my best" ever be "good enough" if "my best" is always changing? 

So, to answer the question in my title....

No, "my best" is not "good enough"....and that's exactly why I'm afraid I won't do good enough, because even my best doesn't cut it.

Yes, I'm aware something has to change in this line of thinking.  But, for now, I think I'll just go ride the bike!

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!

1 comment:

  1. That's why I proclaim that I am just an ordinary person with average abilities striving to do extraordinary things & through hard work I get a little closer each day. The day that you say it is "good enough" you might as well quit. No you will never be winning races, but everyone can work harder to reach their potential. But as you work hard, you will get faster. Then your training will get faster and your projected 800m times will get faster. So if you are supposed to be hitting 4:30 on an 800m, then you can pull off a faster 5km, your 800m target time for next season may be 4:15. I know that you just started running, but you have plenty of room for improvement (we all do) and are far from reaching your upper limits. my advice is that you keep pushing and see what you are capable of doing. You never know, you might surprise yourself! I was a lazy kid that turned into an overweight lazy adult. So I started running and tried my very best every day and look at where it has gotten me:) Good luck and stay with it.


Don't hold back, tell it like it is....