Friday, February 29, 2008

Telling my inner critic to piss off

I was talking to my husband yesterday about the couch to 5k program. He’s also doing the program, although he’s doing his 100% on the treadmill and I do mine on the treadmill 1-2 days a week and on the road 1-2 days a week. I’d been out of the loop on how it’s been going for him, since I’ve tried to stay out of his business about it. He’s relatively new to exercise, and I didn’t want to seem like a nag or a critic. Because of our different work schedules and his commute we’re not really doing the program together as much as we’re doing it over the same span of weeks. Over the past few weeks we’ve ended up on treadmills side by side only once or twice, and those times we each had our headphones on listening to the podcast that told us when to walk and run.

So anyway, the topic came up, and we chatted about how we’re feeling about the program. We’re both feeling good, the podcasts are helpful, blah blah blah. Then the topic turned to how fast we’re running.

Dammit! The man is running MUCH faster than I am.

For some reason I find this irrationally maddening.

He’s 6 inches taller than me so that’s a very slight advantage perhaps, but other than that it seems like I should have the advantage here. He’s been inconsistent with his training, but I’ve been on track (with the exception of one missed workout). He’s skipped parts of weeks, and I’ve been following the training program religiously and by the book. He started out at a lower fitness level than I did. When we do the personal training together weekly, he lifts heavier weights than I do, but I seem to have better cardio endurance than he has and I seem to be able to handle physical discomfort better. He’s never been an athletic person; I’ve had two periods in my life where exercise was the norm.

Right now I’m feeling annoyed at myself for running slowly, bewildered at how the realities above translate to him running faster, and, well, just COMPETITIVE.

I didn’t want this running thing to get competitive.

I’ve been surfing around online trying to get a sense if I’m at least “normal” when it come to how quickly I’m running. I’m not finding many answers – what I am finding is repeated suggestions to do it slowly and to pace yourself. Great, wonderful, I’m doing what I’m SUPPOSED to do with the program.

Why isn’t that good enough?

I need to find a way to silence my inner critic and to stop comparing myself to him or anyone else. It does NOT matter how fast I run, it matters that I run. It matters that I’m stretching myself and doing something new, something I never thought I could do. I don’t have to do it better or faster than anyone else. In my heart I know all this. And I also know that once I’ve run 5k, I can move on to building my speed, and/or building my distance, and/or move on to some other completely different goal. I know this.

So why am I having such a hard time with the speed thing? I guess I’m a competitive person – I don’t think of myself that way, but I guess I am. And I really didn’t want this to be competitive – I wanted to do this for myself. Now I’m a little worried that when we do run our 5k, I’ll be disappointed in myself when I cross the finish line many minutes after him. I hate the thought that I could let something like that take away from how I’ll feel about accomplishing this goal.

If you guys have any suggestions about how I can tell my inner critic to piss off, please, suggest away.

In the meantime, it’s payday. I’m going to head out after work to buy a heart rate monitor.


Roni said...

OMG I could have wrote that.

Ok, a secret. When I'm lifting at the gym and I come behind someone on a machine I get PI$$ED off when they are lifting more the me! LOL Like it matters!

They could have been lifting for 10 year me 10 months but I compare myself to them and then beat myself up.

I guess what I'm trying to tell you is, you aren't alone. The best thing we can do is exactly what you just did. Tell yourself to SHUT UP and pat yourself on the back for doing as awesome job!

jodi said...

i knew when i started the whole 'running' thing that i wouldn't be in it for the speed/distance... i trained for a 5K, i ran the 5K, and now i continue running because i know it's helping me lose weight... do i care if someone runs faster than me? not really... you shouldn't care either because everyone's built differently... just do your thang and be happy!

(thanks for the comment, btw)

MomOf3 said...

Compare yourself against yourself and celebrate your improvements. Keep track of how fast you finish your runs each week or how much further you have run than the week before. Seeing yourself improve is a great motivator! :)

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain...I'm very competitive too, and it sucks when someone can seemingly not follow the rules and be "ahead". :-)

You've got your facts right though, and you "know" it shouldn't matter, but what you know and what you feel aren't necessarily the same.

Wish I had a suggestion, and maybe I would if I weren't SO susceptible to the same problem. Except maybe just really, really avoiding running with him. :-) But that would suck in its own way.

Regardless, you are doing great and are such an inspiration. If I can make progress half as steadily with the program as you are, I'll be ecstatic. So be proud of what you've done know...just try not to think about what he's doing. ;-)


PS - and you know what I just thought? Maybe it's because you're taking it a bit slower that you're able to be so much more consistent with the program? I'll take accuracy over speed any day. :-)

RunRun1 said...

I run on the treadmill at about 4.7 and walk at about 3.6 mph. I started out MUCH faster during the earlier weeks (walk 5, run 6) but it wasn't sustainable for the longer runs, slower feels better for me. Once I'm running 30 min straight, I can work on speed. Right now I'm working on endurance-- I say don't sweat it! And do wear a heart rate monitor, it's another tool to see and measure progress.

Kristy said...

Great news on the HRM. You will find it really helpful. I wear it for all my runs.

I can understand your feeling of competitiveness as I am almost always the slowest at my running club and get annoyed I can't keep up with the faster people, but then I remind myself that I can run (and 8 -12 km's) at the moment and that is my achievemnet. As everyone else has said focus on your acheivements, how you feel and how much your improving and on the day celebrate with your partner that you both finished the 5 km race. btw I hate running with people for that reason. Everyone had a different running pace so at my running group I am happy to run by myself if no one is running at my pace. Sorry to the write so much, but just forget your partner and remember how great it will feel to finish your first 5 km race. I still remember mine. Can't wait to hear all about it :)

Cammy said...

When I first started working with the trainers, I met another client who loved to regale me with the number of reps and the size weights she was using. I felt like a toad because I wasn't doing those things, and I brooded about it the whole time I kept plugging away at my own efforts. Eventually I forgot about it, until I saw her one day and realized I had passed her both in weight loss and in size. I'm not gloating; I want her to be successful. I guess what I'm saying is that the tortoise wins. :)

Keep in mind that hubby has The Great Unequalizer on his side: the magical testosterone. You can't compare yourself to him, unless you go buy yourself some testosterone. Which you could do, but you'll want to arrange for electrolysis (and a lot of it) while you're at it. :)

Hang in there; you're doing GREAT!

Linda said...

Are you being too hard on yourself? You can only do what your body allows and the fact that you are doing so much anyway is just so BLUMMIN FANTASTIC!

Having said that, why not compete against yourself, note what your best is now and then just better it each week say.

Your hubby can maybe run faster or whatever but he is male you are female and if he were competing against other men then he may not be able to run faster than other men.

We all have things that we are better at and like you said in your post, he might be able to lift heavier weights which is perfectly natural that he can BUT you have better cardio endurance and of course you can handle physical discomfort better then he ladies have a STRONGER pain thresh hold...OF COURSE!!

I think you are doing so WELL! Do your best, that is all you can do.

Hugs x

ashley said...

Hello!! You are running harder and harder! You started the C-2-5K and have only gotten better! Hush that inner critic and keep pushing along like you are doing!

I have the same experience. Except for, lucky for me, I guess I'm not very competitive. Last week I finished a tough C-2-5K workout and really impressed myself with my time AND speed. I did crazy well and was so excited to tell him about my new record. Yeah... what I did is only about half as fastt as he can go. And he only runs once a month! Bahumbug!

Anonymous said...

Its all different in a race anyway. You'll do fine, and he might struggle, especially since he is doing all his work on the treadmill. He won't be used to running outside.

Nicole said...

I don't know much about running. But I can say this: when I was in the Marine Corps the men were ALWAYS faster than the women. Even the fast women. In fact, if a woman was as fast as an average man that meant she was getting 100s on her physical fitness tests. I think it's just biology. Look at things like the NYC Marathon. The men always win.

I'm not discounting the power or ability of women, but I think overall this is one area where men happen to have an advantage. Lucky them, because they don't have advantages in hardly ANY areas. LOL!!