I’m writing this to you all just after running Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest, bruises et all! I’ll elaborate more on the race in a later post, but I will say that it was an extremely difficult race for me, both physically and mentally. I have been beating myself up since I finished, over the obstacles I failed to complete properly, and it got me wondering about why I am so hard on myself.
It’s not unusual for me to not perform to a standard I deem to be unacceptable and then to beat myself up for it after; on reflection, this affects most aspects of my life from running, to drama school to baking etc. Perhaps it’s just because I don’t have realistic expectations for myself and setting myself up for failure is a natural result, or perhaps I just don’t know how to change my expectations at short notice.
To give an example, I’d been running ~4 times a week from June through to mid August (when I hurt my knee) and as a result, I was seeing my fitness increase and my PBs plummet rapidly. After my knee got injured, I went cold turkey and didn’t run at all, so getting back into regular running again over this past month has been pretty difficult. I went to my first post-injury 5k, and finished in a time of 30:18. There’s nothing wrong with that time and all things considered I ought to have been quite pleased with it, but I was just so annoyed with myself for it and for being so close to running a sub 30 time.
What I ought to have done was to recognise that this was a good foundation to build upon and to feel good knowing that I would likely go sub-30 soon (incidentally, I did at the next week’s parkrun). Yes it’s nice to get a PB but ultimately I don’t run for them, I run because I enjoy it, and sometimes I just need to take a step back and remember just to run for the sheer love of it rather than obsessing over times and splits. It’s a slow process, but I’ll get there!
As I mentioned, I also find (many) aspects of drama school standards difficult to contend with. This is most obvious in my tap dancing classes as I am (in my opinion, mistakenly) in the top set whilst I am in the bottom sets for all other dance classes. I tapped for many years as a child, then stopped and didn’t tap for over a decade, so I was incredibly surprised and scared to find myself in the top group for tap. I love tap dancing; the way that it sounds, looks and feels, and I definitely feel that my tapping has come on in leaps and bounds since I started in September. However, I am extremely conscious of the fact that I am the weakest in my group and take the longest to learn new moves.
In my head, when I mess something up in class, the other students are all questioning what I am doing there. I recognise that this is a bizarre way to think, especially since they all make mistakes and don’t pick up steps immediately either. This week, our teacher spoke to us and instructed us not to explain or complain about what we were getting wrong, just to keep practicing and trying, and I think I’m definitely going to try and implement this more positive approach to my tap in the future. This will also be a slow process, but I’m going to continue to work hard and to throw myself into my work without caring what others think.
I don’t really have any particular advice on what you can do to stop beating yourself up, but I have found the following things to be useful:
- have a confidant; a friend or relative you can talk to about how you’re feeling, who can help you to realise when you are being too hard on yourself
- set realistic expectations. If you’re returning from a long break from exercise, your body probably won’t perform the same way it used to. Equally, if conditions whilst you run become particularly awful then your race can be affected too. We all have to learn how to adapt our expectations as required
- eat well. If, like me, you’re prone to emotional eating you may find that doing this after disappointment makes you feel even worse. Look after your body and fuel it properly, and it will thank you.
- Don’t forget that just because you can’t do something now, doesn’t mean you won’t be able to do it forever. A few years ago I couldn’t even run 5k and now I’m training for my first half marathon (eek!).
Hopefully this will be helpful to you, and will encourage you to love yourself that bit more and stop being so hard on yourselves! Keep the faith!
Until next time!