Hope you all enjoyed a perfect weather weekend. Looks like we’re in for some rain this week. But, we gotta train in everything because we might get anything.
What I’ve been thinking about lately is perfectionism. I think many of us can identify with the perfectionist mindset. It is behind a lot of distance running tendencies. Show up, do the work, achieve results, feel good about yourself. The more we repeat this behaviour loop, the more it becomes a habit, and then a self-identity. Although these tendencies can lead to success, I think it’s important to remain self-aware and know when they are holding us back in certain ways. For example, in terms of fear of failure. When we are given a workout to do, or think we know the direct path to our goals, the more rigid our mindset, the scarier it is to veer from that path. And in fact, if our perfectionist habits are influencing our self-identity, it can become terrifying. Who am I if I don’t “succeed”?
But the truth is that imperfection and even failure IS an option. I have a talented new-ish runner whom I coach, and I’ve been giving her workouts to do with the group by time. So basically a number of timed segments, without too much guidance from me on exact pacing (it is cross-country after all). Afterwards she said she never knows how hard to start because she’s worried that she won’t have anything left for the last one. I told her that we’re trying to find that point in practice, so failure is a data point. I said go out, have fun, take the limits off, and if you don’t finish the workout as prescribed, this is a safe space to do that!
This is a hard headspace to try to embrace for many perfectionists, but it is also the path to higher potential limits. Yes, you might fail. But if you’re secure enough in who you are, failure becomes a learning opportunity – not a threat to your identity. I have seen some of you do this well when I’ve given you “prescribed workouts”, and I celebrate that. Within reason. I’m not advising recklessness. But if you find you’re always sticking so closely to the rules because you have to execute “perfectly”, maybe try to challenge that inner voice. This holds true for a “perfect” number of miles per week, a “perfect” long run, and “perfect” workouts. Your races will very likely not be perfect. So practice imperfection. It might take you to new places – and honestly, it’s more fun.
On to our workout for tomorrow! – something special planned so we’ll start at 6:00 am.
- 4 x 1 mile at HM pace w 1:30 rest. If you can creep the last two down in pace close to 10K pace, go for it.
THEN: Fall Marathon Racers (Boston, NYC, Georgina): 2 x 1 mile at race pace, taking water each time you pass the 400m mark. I will be set up there with water and cups so you can practice taking it at race pace. Don’t worry, I’ll pick up the garbage. Just grab, sip while running, and throw. I’ll show you how I do it. I think this is a good thing to practice or at least take some of the anxiety out of doing it “perfectly” on race day. If anyone wants to stick around after the 4 x 1 mile and help me hand out water, you’re welcome to! I think it will be raining. So imperfect.
Thanks all – see you in the am!