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.