Be Kind to Yourself

The last few weeks have been rough.

3 weeks ago I couldn’t complete my workout. Anxiety overtook me and I was left sobbing on the side of the trail. 

Even though I had so much extra time, I was dreading most runs. What was once a stress reliever was now causing stress and anxiety.  I would snap at home. Cry randomly.

This wasn’t me.

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2 weeks ago I decided I needed a true break from running.

You know what’s sad?

I don’t remember the last time I took a WEEK away from running. After Frankfurt at the end of October when I ran my marathon PR, I took 5 days off of running because the Olympic Trials were looming in the coming months and I felt like I was falling behind with every day I was sitting at home.

After the Olympic Trials, I took 4 days off of running before pacing a mile time trial and running a local 10K.  This was all “fun” in the moment but I was also coming off of an emotional high, a disappointing performance and once again felt like I was falling behind with every day I wasn’t running.

In my mind, rest was seen as a weakness. I don’t like to be lazy and taking time off made me lazy.  I always felt like I needed to run more mileage, run those miles faster and sneak in extra cross training in order to close the gap between where I was and where I want to be.

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1 week ago I signed off of Instagram and Strava in attempts to quit comparing myself. 

Tianna Bartoletta said it best in her blog a few weeks ago…

As we scroll through social media there’s a part of our brains that keeps a running tally of comparison. And comparison is an act of violence against oneself.

Uffda. So. Damn. True.

I am beyond guilty of this.

I scroll through Strava or Instagram. I start to question everything.

Maybe my training isn’t good enough.

Maybe I should run more mileage.

Maybe I should run my easy days faster.

Maybe I’m not good enough.

These are all lies and when I start to struggle, my “coping” mechanisms are usually just a way of “escaping” but in reality, it leads to feeling alone and I start to overthink and ruminate on all of these negative thoughts.

We are vulnerable right now.

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At church a few weeks ago, Pastor Chris explained it like this.

Our emotions are built like a house.

The foundation is relationships and connectedness. I’ve lost my running friends. I’ve lost my small group. I’ve lost sitting around after practice and joking with the women on the team.  I’ve lost coffee dates. We’ve all lost relationships throughout these past few weeks and it hurts.

The structure is purpose and routines. I stay busy for a reason. For a while, I was going to graduate school, working full-time and running 100+ mile weeks. If I stay busy, my mind constantly has a task to focus on and it’s harder to get lost in the rabbit hole of social media, comparison, etc. I had let my purpose be what I do – run – and this will never lead to the performances I want if I wrap my purpose and identity into this singular thing that once felt so stable until now.

The beautifying is self control and trust. I remember when the first race of my spring season was cancelled. I was bummed because I had never been to Boston but I wasn’t too worried. Then another race was cancelled. Before I knew it, all of my races through mid-July were cancelled. Up until the last one was cancelled, I had a sliver of hope in my heart to keep me going but what I didn’t realize is that I can’t control what races will be cancelled. I have to make the daily decision to control what I can control : my attitude. I have to trust that God has a plan for this odd time and even though he hasn’t answered all of my prayers right now, that doesn’t mean he isn’t listening.

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How we feel should not be wrapped into external influences. Right now, I realized this downtime is the perfect time to work on myself.

My goal is to be able to look in the mirror and say “Damn, Sam, I am proud of you.”

This may take some time but good thing we have a lot of it right now.

We will get through this together because we were not created to be alone. So lean on your friends. Lean on your support system.

Most importantly: Be kind to yourself.

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