How Running Improves My Attitude

March 23, 2017

I Have An Attitude

And it’s not always a good one. I am trying to improve it, piece by piece. I believe I made a bit of progress this weekend. But first, a little background so you understand why my attitude news improvement.

I’m a Runner

I may not be fast, and I may not run as many miles as other people, but I’m a runner. I’ve been running regularly now for about 15 years. I’ve done everything from a zombie 5k race, to the Women’s run in San Francisco, to quite a few half-marathons. My training varies depending on what race (if any) are coming up. During a regular week, the schedule I prefer is to run twice in the middle of the week (3 miles), and then 8 miles on Saturday.

My mileage will vary, as it did over the holidays and many rainy weekends. I try to be careful gearing back up to my preferred mileage if I’ve been off for any reason. But I’m happy with where I am. I wanted to state that first before I explain what happened this morning, and what I still struggle with.

My Progress

I’ve been gearing back up my running schedule, and I’m back to my two mid-week 3 mile runs, and 7.6 (yes, that “.6” is important to me!) miles on the weekend. I worked, ran or walked every day the past week. While we were on one of our walks, we saw two ladies running. The first lady looked strong, and was wearing a really cute outfit. She didn’t have a runner’s thinner body, she had an awesome strong female body. She looked great and had a good pace going. Not too far behind (at this point), came another lady. She was running strong, but she had on the kind of outfit I run in, capris and a long shirt (you know, for me to cover myself and be loose fitting).

Now, these two ladies were running downhill at this point, but shortly they turned the corner and headed up a hill that starts with a slight incline, then moves into a tough one. The first lady was making really good progress up the hill, and was well up the harder part at a strong pace. The second lady was loosing ground to the first one, but she was still going strong. The last we saw her she was still running up that tough incline. And I know it’s a tough run because I love to run that hill at the end of my run. There is a great view at the top, and it’s a blast to run down for the last little part of the run. But I always, always have to stop part way up the tough incline. Any other hill I’m able to run without stopping, but not this one. And both ladies ran as far as I could see without stopping. Awesome.

My Struggle

Now I will admit when I first saw the ladies running downhill, I admired the way the first lady looked, and her pace. I also admired the second lady’s pace as well. But what is the next thought that went through my mind (and of course the one that I said out loud to my husband), that I wished I had a sign around my neck that said, “I did 7.6 miles yesterday.” My husband didn’t understand why I said that. He said, and I agree, that it’s awesome these two are out here running a good pace. So I tried to explain to him my thought process and how women (or at least I) think.

Before I could tell him though, the second lady passed us and as we said “hi” she smiled and came back with, “I’m not as good as her,” pointing to the faster one in front of her. This confused my husband. Pulling on past experiences, he said they must be mother and daughter and she said that because she’s proud of her daughter. Now, they may be mother and daughter, but I told him I don’t think that’s why she said that. And on the heels of that, is that how I encourage my daughters, by putting myself down?

My husband told me it’s great that they are both out running, just because one is faster doesn’t mean the other is not doing well. I understand that, and while I did/do think it was great they were out here, my next thought was that shame on me for not being out there as well. My husband didn’t understand that. Then he pointed out the fact that both ladies were running up that tough hill, and he didn’t see them stop at all. He was just, in his words, sending encouragement through the air to them. That’s great. But what do I do? Yup, feel really bad that I haven’t been able to make it to the top without stopping and take his encouragement of someone else to feel like I should have done better.

Now my husband is confused and I think a little upset with me. He wants to know what’s wrong with pointing out someone else’s accomplishment. He’s right, and while I did think it was great, and not wanting to take anything away from them, I thought less of myself for not being able to do it. And yet, looking at all I’ve done, and all I do, my brain tells me it’s really silly to feel that way.

My Take Away Lesson

And there lies the problem. I do feel that way. I don’t want to take anything away from anyone, but right on the heels of, “that’s great she can do that,” is my, “what’s wrong with me that I can’t.” And that is the difference between what my husband sees and then feels, and what I do.

So what is my take away lesson from this? What can I learn to grow? I know that just because I feel something, does not mean I have to act on it. I know that I am not what thoughts go through my head, but what I do and what I say. I also know that if I had been at the top of the hill when they passed me, I would like to have said to them, “awesome job running!” I can also look at myself and see if I can use it as motivation for me to do better. Maybe not run at their pace, or even up that hill completely like they both did. But maybe make it just a few steps further each time until I can say that I can run up that hill without stopping. No matter how fast or slow.

I will focus on the process, and on being sure only the encouraging thoughts and words are what come out of my mouth. Even when I’m just talking to my husband. So the, “that’s great, but I wish I could do that” will turn into, “that’s great, and motivates me.”

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