Perspective on NOT Running – Another Reframe

Sometimes we get so close to situations, activities or relationships that our view becomes skewed. I recently posted about reframing. This is a mental game skill that helps us cope with situations by purposely seeing them from a different light, thereby making what we could see as a negative event interpretation into at least a neutral interpretation and better yet a positive one.

I commonly hear runners lamenting about missing a workout. The nature of the lament may vary. And that workout (or workouts) missed could be due to any number of legitimate “life” reasons or due to an injury.

Missing the workout is an objective event. It happens. Work, travel, divorces, busy schedules and yes injuries – happen. Sometimes  it may even seem that any one or all of these things “conspire” against us. But, like missing a run is an objective occurrence so are all these other happenings. The issue is not whether these things occur, we know they do. The issue is what meanings and what perspectives do we put to them.

  • I’ve heard how awful it is when someone works for months building up to a marathon only to be injured in the final weeks of preparation.
  • I’ve heard how someone will “lose all their conditioning” because it is springtime and allergies and asthma reduce their runs to jogs.
  • I’ve heard how for the past five weeks runs sucked.
  • I’ve heard how someone wakes up and has aches and pains everyday and it’s so hard to get their run in.
  • I’ve heard the injured runner whine about not being able to run.
  • I’ve heard how someone is “going crazy” not running and having difficult times coping with stress.
  • I’ve heard from significant others how “grumpy” their runner partner is when not running.

The thing in common is that the perspective of these runners is one of uber-importance on getting their running in. And without it, life is somehow wrong.

I’ve learned a few lessons in life. I’ve applied a few of those. But it’s my mental game training that has done the most for me personally. It has facilitated me apply those life lessons. After 42 years and 55000 miles of running and racing; high school, college, open and masters level. One cannot claim that I’m a casual jogger or that I’m not competitive. I love my running. And I do miss it when I don’t run.

After 3 achilles tendon surgeries, injuries, divorces, years of single-parenting, stressful work situations, travel, lean financial times, vehicles that were super-glued together, family obligations, cancer and chronic illnesses, family deaths, births and marriages – everyone of you can relate to these things. They are just objective occurrences in our lives.

Perspective is an aspect of mental toughness that allows us to cope in a healthy manner with those life events AND the fact that we miss some workouts due to those and other situations such as injuries. It bothers me to see runners completely change their demeanor from cheery to depressed and cranky because they didn’t run. I am guilty of that in my past life. So I really get it. I also woke up to what I was doing to myself as well as those around me.

To help with perspective I ask myself questions:

  • Am I really a different person that I didn’t run today?
  • Is everyone in my life deserving of my pissy attitude because I didn’t run today?
  • Does not running a race mean life has lost meaning?
  • What would someone with cancer think of the fact you didn’t run today? [Aside from my ex-wife being  a cancer survivor; I was a nurse in medical oncology once upon a time.. go try it. Get perspective there.]
  • 1 year, 5 years or 30 years from now will it really matter that you missed a few days, weeks or even months without running and racing?
  • What if you never raced again?
  • If you never ran another step in your life – what would you do?
  • When I return to running, will I take for granted my runs?

For those running but not enjoying it or for whom it isn’t going well right now ask yourself:

  • If this were my last run, how would I like to remember it?
  • Does not setting a PR or winning a race because training might have been compromised mean the end of the world?
  • You lost a race you should have won – seriously? Did that really change you? Do people in your life love you less?

Changing perspective does not mean denying that something is disappointing. We are human and we should experience the full range of emotions – that makes us alive! That is entirely different from coloring our entire world and our relationships because of not putting one foot in front of the other in rapid succession in comfy shoes and shorts.

The bottom line is that life is bigger than a run. Running is a part of us. Running is a part of our lives. It is not life. Get perspective.

Post Script: 5 minutes after posting this I received a call from a dear friend who was just diagnosed with cancer. She goes in for a hysterectomy within the week and she says she did not walk away with a very positive impression of options or outlook. Perspective.

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About Dean Hebert

I’m a mental game coach, author and speaker. I work with individual athletes, parents, coaches, and teams on sports performance enhancement. Beyond my academic post-graduate work in sports psychology - the psychology behind athlete performance – I am a certified Mental Games Coaching Professional (MGCP) and certified hypnotherapist. I’ve authored several books and hundreds of articles. “Coach, I didn’t run because…” (2008) is a seriously light-hearted look at making excuses not to workout and how to overcome them. “Focus for Fitness” (2009) and “Screw the Goals Give me the Donut” (2010) are two of my eBooks on mental game approaches for the everyday athlete. I wrote these because I believe that everyone can benefit from the powerful mental techniques that the world’s best athletes use. I have been cited in Runners World, Best Health magazine (CN), SWEAT Magazine, and the Washington Examiner amongst many other publications. I have been a featured mental games coach in Runner’s World and for the internationally acclaimed trail running resource - trailrunningclub.com. I also regularly appear on sports and fitness talk shows such as LTKFitness, Runnersroundtable and for more than three years I have co-hosted a weekly video series with Coach Joe English for Running-Advice.com. I specialize in mental toughness training. My clients include tennis, synchronized swimming, golf, race-kart, soccer, motocross, volleyball, MMA, cycling (road, off-road, time-trialist), running, duathlon and triathlon, basketball, football and baseball athletes. I have coached world-class athletes and athletes internationally. I have a passion for working with youth athletes and helping them apply mental game skills and techniques to all areas of life. Most importantly, my aim is to have people enjoy sports and life to their fullest through peak performances.
This entry was posted in Excuses not to run, focus, Illness and Running, Motivation, Running, Sports Psychology, The Running Life - Philosophy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Perspective on NOT Running – Another Reframe

  1. gbsmith4 says:

    Dean: terrific. One of you best cols! Gary

  2. Laurie says:

    Dean…Tough to hear, I am guilty. Well written, Laurie

  3. mizunogirl says:

    I think we are all guilty of one or another of these statements at some time in our lives. I spent about 8-9 months this year rehabbing…and I was very unhappy during most of it. I knew that it would improve, but after about 3 months, I had begun to seriously doubt that I would see improvement. It was a really difficult thing when people starting asking me why I wasn’t joining them for this and that race…they knew I had had surgery but they were so unaware of the seriousness of the surgery. after about 5 months, I started to just think like a non-runner. I just wanted to walk without a limp again.

    Now that I am pretty much 100% recovered and running PR’s like crazy…I will say my perspective is much better. I had a TERRIBLE run the other day. My coach asked how it went. I said, “Terrible, but it was still running” High five for that one.

    I think the fact is when we arent running we will fight feeling of irritability, and frustration. We’ll feel misunderstood by most others, especially non-runners…and we will probably say a few whiney things here and there. The big thing is to remember exactly what you said…missing a run does not mean that world peace will not be achieved. And to accept that yes, missing a few runs will put me in a different frame of mind…but it does not have to completely paralyze my ability to function in the world.

  4. Dean Hebert says:

    Wonderfully stated Mizunogirl! It’s been over 3 years since I’ve raced but what you said is exactly my attitude: Even a bad day running is better than no running at all. Welcome back to the fold!

  5. Raphael says:

    For one used to kilometers it could be fun if it were “After 42.2 years…of running and racing” 🙂

  6. Janey Smith says:

    How do I even begin to explain how wonderfully delighted I am to come across this post? It just feels so good that I found someone who has incredibly explained such a complicated situation, or what most runners think it is.

    Although I love to see other runners ramble about how lame their runs were, I think it would be best if they have better understanding of things. In the end, like what Mizunogirl said, having a short, slow run is still better than not having any at all. Keep it up, Coach! You sure have inspired a lot of people!

  7. Colin Whiteley says:

    Love this and so beautifully written. Congratulations on a wonderful post.

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