Why are you so hard on yourself?

Road running is not a team sport. As Professor Tim Noakes points out in “The (bible) Lore of Running”, running is a competition with oneself. As he puts it, “…with team sports, you do not have to admit your imperfections. There is always someone or something else to blame.” But running is different.

Running is highly personal. It’s got nothing to do with anyone else but yourself. In fact, only you know how much training you’ve put in. Only you know what goals you want to achieve. Only you can make it happen. No one else can achieve those goals but you. You are the only person you’re running for and the only person satisfied or not with the performance.

A while back, I found myself explaining to a (non-running) friend about my running and my aims to run faster so that I make the 3 hour cut-off times to most half marathons. She listened patiently but it was her question to me that has been on my mind a lot. She asked, “Why are you so hard on yourself? Why don’t you ever stop and celebrate the fact that you can in fact run so far in the first place?”

I didn’t know the answer…

Being so hard on myself does keep me running and keeps me striving to reach my running goals, but unfortunately it prevents me from enjoying my runs. Majority of the time, I am too obsessed with the negative aspects more than celebrating the small victories of my runs.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been giving it some serious thought. I’ve been working on enjoying the runs more than trying to achieve something. I’ve left my running watch at home when I train and not care if I walk during a race. I haven’t had to worry if it rains and I can’t train. I don’t stress when I choose to rather sleep late than go running.

I’ve started to change the way I view my running. You see, this is what I’ve realised: I am a runner.

I don’t need to run the Comrades marathon to claim to be a runner. I can take a year to train for next year’s Two Oceans and maybe throw in a few other half marathons too. I can call myself a runner, just because I run.

I’ve started to enjoy my runs. I’ve started to have fun. I’ve started to feel victorious in a different way. If I run 5 kms around my neighbourhood, 3kms at the gym or a 10km race on the weekend, I’m running and loving it.

I’m overcoming a big hurdle and it feels great! I’ve finally started to run for myself…

Believing in myself will be my greatest challenge in 2012

Compared to most December holidays, I had quite a lot of spare time to catch up on my reading and DVD watching these past few weeks. An inspirational book by Tim Noakes and watching one of my all-time favourite DVDs documenting the Apollo 13 rescue left me with lots of food for thought as I enter into a new year, filled with many unknowns and challenges.

I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions. However, a very clear message kept coming through when I read Noake’s book and which was confirmed when watching ‘The Race to the Moon: Failure is not an option’ DVD. The message of believing in myself. The message of accomplishing what my mind tells me is impossible.

Self-belief will be my 2012 New Year’s resolution.

In Noake’s book, called “Challenging Beliefs”, he says, “…it is our minds, and especially our perception of what can be, rather than our physical capabilities which ultimately determine the extend to which we succeed.” 

It’s four years since I started running but I aim to make 2012 the year that counts. No more doubting that running is too difficult. No more worrying that everyone else is faster than me. No more putting myself down. This will be the year that I have complete confidence in myself when I line up at the start of the Two Oceans half marathon. This will be the year that I am not overwhelmed with fears of not making the 3 hour cut-off gun. This is the year that I dash pass all those ‘walkers’ and come home with a medal I am proud of.

The Gene Kranz documentary “Failure is not an option” revolves around the team of very young engineers who ran the Mission Control centre in the 60’s and recounts their story of America’s space flight and man’s landing on the moon. But it’s the captivating story of the unexpected disaster that left the Apollo 13 crew lost in space which leaves me breathless. Faced with the unknown and a problem which at first seemed impossible to fix, the team at mission control managed to use their unique expertise and with the knowledge that “failure was not an option” pulled off an amazing rescue.

With the same spirit of those young NASA engineers, 2012 will be the year I rock at my job. I aim to make it known exactly just how skilled I am in my field instead of hiding in the shadows due to lack of confidence. I believe that I am capable of so much more. No more excuses! This is my year to take on new challenges and to shine!  

Bring it!