Saturday, September 12, 2015

Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy

I just got through week #1 of the new training plan with Fit Sparrow Training and I can't believe I'm gonna say this but I'm loving it!  Jackie has put together a plan for me that not only takes into account my current running level but also my likes/dislikes and what I'm hoping to accomplish.  Each run has been different with a specific purpose and have all been challenging in very different ways.  By far the hardest one so far was Friday's speed work run which was 3x1 mile repeats with a 1 mile warm-up and cool down with 400 meter rest periods between repeats.  You guys, it was sooo hard!  I haven't done mile repeats in almost two years and I've never done more than two in a row so I seriously thought I was going to hurl.  Thankfully I didn't and I had the biggest adrenalin rush when I finished the workout.  Talk about runner's high!

Post-speed work legs

As much as my runs have been going well lately, surprisingly another aspect of my running has been deteriorating.  I've always considered myself very lucky to have an amazing support system of family and friends who encourage and motivate me and cheer me on along the way.  For whatever reason that hasn't been the case this training cycle.  People who I thought cared about me and understood my running have suddenly been a lot more aloof or critical of the decisions I've made this time around and the steps that I've taken to try to achieve a marathon PR.  I've had criticisms about how often I'm running, how far I'm running, where I'm running, how I'm cross training, how often I'm cross training...and the list goes on.  I was shocked, and honestly hurt, that instead of supporting me and encouraging me these people who I cared for were tearing me down.  In their defense, I know they are well intentioned and they honestly want to help me achieve my goal in their own way.  But that doesn't make it hurt or bother me any less.

The reason this is hitting me harder than it probably should is that I've always struggled with the "I'm not good enough" syndrome.  I grew up in a traditional asian environment where being the best was encouraged, if not expected.  For someone who is naturally shy and introverted that made for an atmosphere that fostered a lot of insecurities.  I was never outgoing enough, athletic enough or pretty enough.  The only saving grace for me, in my perception, was the fact that I was smart and successful academically.  That was the only arena in which I received any type of praise.  Now that I've become "the runner" in the family, I've found myself repeating some of the same thought processes and actions that I did when I was younger and comparing myself to others who are seemingly faster, better runners.  It's so silly!

Social media certainly doesn't help the situation.  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Periscope, Vine, etc. all show the very best of everyone's daily lives.  Mentally I know that what I see is the highlight of everyone's days and oftentimes it's very much staged to maximize the visual impact.  I get it.  But emotionally I can't help but look at all of the beautiful pictures or posts about amazing achievements and internally compare how my life doesn't measure up.  How I don't measure up.

I'm thankful that I'm self-aware enough to know when my thoughts start becoming negative and belittling.  I catch myself doing self harm in the form of comparing my perceived inadequacies to others supposed superiority.  I'm consciously working on rewriting my internal dialogue and changing my story.  I admit it's a struggle.  It's infinitely easier for me to cheer on and encourage others and see the amazing qualities that they have than it is to see it in myself.  It's mentally and emotionally exhausting, not to mention damaging.  I'm a work in progress.

I debated sharing this.  I didn't want this to feel like a ploy for pity.  The last thing I want is people to feel sorry for me.  I ultimately chose to share my story because I know I'm not the only person who goes through this.  I know others struggle with not only the comparison monster but also unsupportive, sabotaging people in their lives.  I wanted people to know that they're not alone.  Above all else, I wanted to make sure people had a chance to know about the real me and my real life, including my daily struggles, and not just my highlight reel.  This is me, imperfections and all, working on becoming a better version of myself.

Do you struggle with the comparison monster?  Have you ever had anyone in your life who criticized you or made you feel as if your effort/accomplishments wasn't good enough?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


FOMO - Fear of Missing Out.  According to Wikipedia FOMO is a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent.  This social angst is characterized by "a desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing".  In my world, this means I don't want to miss out on any of the running fun which explains why I signed up for a minimum of one race each month for the past two years (with as many as a race every weekend during some months including bicoastal travel).

I loved every single race that I ran and I am so grateful for the memories that I have and the new friends that I've made.  But if I'm going to be completely honest, I was majorly burnt out in every possible way by the time December rolled around.  Not to mention my bank account took a major hit with all of the traveling to and from the east coast and all over California!  Last year was the epitome of burnout and it was so hard for me to rediscover my running motivation and mojo.

I've been pretty good this year about not getting suckered into registering for more races just because all of my running friends are doing it.  However, now that the fall racing season is rolling around I'm starting to get the race itch again.  I am trying oh so hard to stick to the races that I already currently have on my calendar but man do I feel a pang of jealousy every time I see someone post about a race they just signed up for or a runcation that they're traveling for.

As much as I want to run all the races and join all the training runs that my friends are running, I am trying really hard to focus on my end goal which is to PR at Revel Canyon City Marathon.  I want that PR so bad I can taste it!  So much so that I'm doing things a bit differently this time:

1) I'm actually training!  Shocker right?  In all of the years that I've been running I have never, ever properly trained for a race.  I've kinda sorta followed the training plans that were given to me but I was never consistent.  I'd miss a run or two a week and/or run less mileage than I was scheduled to.  Granted, I only have about 8 weeks for really focused marathon training this training cycle but it's definitely a lot more than I've ever done in the past.

2) I'm working with a coach!  Yes, T is my "unofficial" coach but I needed a professional to break down the training cycle and provide a plan which included cross training days and runs by mileage, type and pace.  I've teamed up with Jackie from Fit Sparrow Coaching for the next eight weeks to hopefully get my body into PR shape.  Boy does she have her work cut out for her!  Hopefully I won't disappoint her.  Added bonus that she's running REVEL Canyon City too so I get to collapse crying into her arms whether or not I get that PR.  I'm sure she'll be thrilled to read that sentence.  HA!

2014 CIM Expo.  That's Jackie to my left.  She's awesome.

3) Speed work.  I absolutely hate speed work.  I mean really hate it.  Fortunately, Jackie listened to my gripes about running around in circles on a track and has formulated most of my speed work so that I can do the workouts while on an actual run. Win-win in my book!

4) I'm working on my nutrition for a change.  Typically I fall into the "I'm marathon training and I ran a bajillion miles so Im gonna eat what I want when I want" trap every training cycle and am completely unapologetic about it.  This time around I want to give myself every advantage to ensure this race goes well so I've been eating fairly clean and minimizing the junk.  So far so good for the most part with the exception of the uncontrollable need for a soda post-long run.  Ultras have ruined me in that regard!

So there you have it!  I'm still battling with FOMO but I'm determined to keep my eye on the prize.  This past Sunday started my first week of coached training so we'll see how it goes.  I promise to keep y'all updated!

Have you ever worked with a coach?  How did it work out for you?  Anyone else running Revel Canyon City?