Last week I had a terrible run.
It was hot. My legs were tired and I was slower than usual.
I stopped almost every mile to fix my hair, tie my shoe, catch my breath, adjust my vest, go to the bathroom, catch my breath again... it just felt like "issue" after "issue" and a run that would never end. Mentally I was not motivated, and I couldn't wait to be done.
At the end when I hit "save" on my GPS tracking-watch, it proceeded to ask me ...
"How was it?"
My watch gives me smiley face icons to choose from after every workout :
"Excellent, Very Good, Good, Average” and “Poor”
So after this particular run, I immediately logged “poor”!
Then a couple days later, just one day after lifting weights a little too intensely, I ran again. My legs were tired! They were sore. It was hard to pick them up. It wasn't easy, and mentally, I was disappointed in myself for not feeling good and having to run slower than usual.
So when my watch asked me how the run was, again, I logged "poor!"
And then it hit me...
I just logged "poor" twice in a row.
If somebody were to only look at my subjective emotional watch icons, without any other data, they would conclude that I am a very poor runner!! And proceeded to feel even more disappointed that I had two “poor” runs in a row.
But the reality is...
I just ran, despite soreness ...
I ran despite lack of motivation...
I ran despite less-than-ideal complications…
I did it!
And those two runs were part of a bigger goal.
I thought about my clients and how every little step in the right direction matters.
I thought about how excited I am for them when they accomplish small goals, like adding one snack to their day, or branching out and trying a new food, even if it was just one bite. Small goals like opening up to me with honesty about their eating habits and why they are doing the things they do, or even just for being open enough to listen to my feedback on their nutrition.
When my clients reach these small goals, I jump through the roof for them! Why?
It's not because we've accomplished everything "excellently" or "very good" but because the hardest part of reaching the finish line is to keep moving forward despite the adversity we face.
When we are feeling down, sometimes we can't see the end in sight. We feel like the effort we put in hasn't paid off yet, and we are very quick to be hard on ourselves. Whether it’s calling a run "poor", calling ourselves "slow", or "fat", comparing ourselves to others, feeling inadequate or unaccomplished . . . the list of self-destructive thoughts and emotions goes on and on.
One of my favorite runners to follow is Olympian Alexi Pappas because she calls all her fans and fellow runners "braveys" for being brave enough to do all the things they put their mind and heart into. One of her Instagram posts over the past year said:
"BE AS KIND TO YOURSELF AS YOU ARE HARD ON YOURSELF"
That simple quote has stuck with me for quite some time.
It's okay to be hard on ourselves. Sometimes that’s the push you need to make a change. Self-reflection is the first step in seeing the areas you can improve upon to better yourself. But if you are going to be hard on yourself, then you also have to be kind to yourself. Being kind ensures the self-criticism is used constructively.