*Four Minute Read (Para leer en español, haga clic aquí)
I’m a terrible runner. Always have been! I played sports in high school and college and can get from point A to point B, but definitely not quickly.
And running is rarely even fun for me. I’ve never achieved the so-called “runner’s high” and often struggle to push myself through literally every step of a run.
I’m just not a strong runner.
But I’ve always wanted to call myself a runner!
Growing up, my Dad ran six to seven miles a day at about a seven-minute mile pace. I remember regularly going on bike rides while he ran beside me. He ran so quickly he could keep up with my bike! My Dad gave me my love for exercise. Even as a little girl I aspired to run like him someday.
I’ve run two half-marathons and multiple 5k’s, yet feel like an imposter calling myself a runner. I know rationally this doesn’t make sense. Even writing this I know that I should feel comfortable saying, “I run” but describing myself that way just feels false and I can’t seem to own those words.
My workouts at Orangetheory Fitness over the last year and a half have helped my running improve tremendously. The runs are on treadmills forcing me to keep a specific pace and someone is coaching me to increase and decrease my pace and inclines. On a treadmill, I can run a mile in just over nine minutes. Outdoors, I’m lucky to clock in around an eleven-minute mile pace. That’s a huge shift.
And I know the only thing stopping me is my head and my own thoughts.
I’ve proven my body is capable because I’ve done it multiple times. But my head struggles to get me there when I don’t have a belt moving under my feet forcing me to run at a swifter pace.
Since we’ve been under a stay-at-home order and my gym has been closed, I’ve fought with my biggest gremlin, my own thoughts, regularly about running outside.
I head outside early most mornings to get in some steps. I’ll try running for a day or two, but I almost always feel disappointed when I’m finished . . . disappointed I’m so much slower than I was just a few weeks ago on a treadmill.
And frequently, the next morning when I head outside still feeling defeated about my run from yesterday, I regularly talk myself into walking rather than running.
While it’s true the pounding on the hard concrete has not been a friend to my aging joints and my body is aching regularly from the stress of the last few weeks, those are really just excuses I’m using to not run.
Under normal circumstances, I get to the gym and work hard daily, honestly even at times when I should be allowing my body to rest. I know my struggle is purely mental and connected to my beliefs about what qualifies as being a good runner.
And the belief that if I can’t be good at it, then maybe I just shouldn’t do it at all.
As I walked out into the light drizzle this morning, I popped in my headphones and turned on a guided run through the Peloton app. As the coach talked me through the run, coaching me through a few minutes at a faster pace and then backing off for a minute or two and repeating several times, at about the halfway mark of the run he said, “Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good.”
It was as if the clouds parted, the rain stopped, and the light of the moon became a spotlight on me in the middle of the street.
It was exactly what I needed to hear at just the right moment.
Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good.
At the very moment he said those words, I was starting to struggle.
Beginning to focus on how my legs were hurting rather than their ability to carry me.
Beginning to feel disappointment in my pace and wondering how long it would take to regain what I had previously built once I am able to get back on a treadmill.
But when I heard those words, I knew I had to keep pushing. I had to continue running.
Those words confirmed my pace doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter whether I am better, worse, or the same as the last time I ran. What matters is I’m doing it. What matters is I’m trying.
I can’t stop doing it because it’s hard, a struggle, or I don’t feel successful. If anything, I should read those feelings as signs to keep going.
There is more opportunity for growth in the things causing struggle than in the things we already feel accomplished in doing.
I’m sure many of you have heard this analogy previously. When you think about a baby learning how to walk, we don’t scold them on their first attempt because they could only take one step. We encourage them to keep trying. And we keep encouraging them until they are able to walk, run, skip, and hop.
Why should any task we take on in our lives, especially as adults, be any different?
Why do we expect ourselves to only try things we know we will accomplish?
There are very few things we are going to excel at or even be very good at on the first try. When we allow ourselves the same grace we give our younger selves to make mistakes, we are also allowing ourselves the space to improve.
As I’ve shared above, for me today that’s about running. (And hundreds of other things too but I’ll save those examples for another time.)
And here’s the thing I have to remember for myself about running, I may never get to a place where I feel good or confident as a runner, but that doesn’t mean I should stop doing it or stop trying to become better.
My goal should and will be progress over perfection.
Where can you allow yourself some patience and grace to fail, to make mistakes, and to learn and grow in healthy and positive ways?
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Stevie Cromer is the Cultural and Enrichment Manager for LUNA Language Services. Stevie regularly provides engaging content to LUNA’s team to encourage a culture of care within our own LUNA family. For more suggestions and resources about how you might build a culture of care throughout your organization, please reach out to Stevie at stevie@LUNA360.com.