Many times new runners will fall into the trap of measuring their success and their progress based on each individual workout. If you have a string of good workouts you are progressing. If you laid an egg for one, your amateur career is over. There is often no ability to consider all the factors: how you are sleeping, how you are fueling, are you recovered, are you pushing too hard too often? And even less ability to say "Well, that happened..." and then move on. It's understandable--it's new territory. And if you don't have a coach or at least a more seasoned runner to bounce things off of then it's not so surprising that we come to these conclusions.
I was one of those runners when I started running (and truth be told it's still there a little). Even when I didn't express it to my coach I would tell myself that maybe I had a lucky run or a lucky race here and there, but for the most part those bad workouts just meant that I can't do this--at least not well. Instead of today wasn't a good workout I would go right to I'm just no good at this--not understanding that runners of all levels will ebb and flow, with lots more ebbing in the beginning. So the peak of feeling like I CAN! would swiftly barrel down into the valley of I. Can't. on an every other day basis sometimes. It was exhausting, and probably one of the big reasons people give up on running. And very likely it's one of the big reasons people give up on anything that is important to them.
But running is an art form to me, and art imitates life. The more I learn all the ins and outs of how running works the more I understand how my life works. In this running/life lesson, one bad workout does not explain or predict your running career. And a bad day doesn't mean your life is in the toilet. It's not to say that there sometimes aren't big difficulties in either realm, it's just that they are both better served by taking a deep breath and stepping back for a bigger view.
This lesson came in pretty handy today when my spirit was low and my run fell apart. Yesterday was such a productive day--a wealthy day. I was getting payoffs all over the place! And then today rolled in. I couldn't tell you exactly why my run sucked or why my life seemed to hit the skids. I couldn't tell you where all of that momentum from yesterday ran off to. I could feel myself on a fast train heading straight down towards I CAN'T, so I did my best to pull back and breath. I could see that my (very amateur) running career wasn't in ruins. And neither was my life. My run was a big fail and my day never got better, but I was able to get off that train and take the long view. I could see that this kind of day might teach me a few things. And I also realized that sometimes we humans just have off days. The best thing to do is to turn down the volume on I CAN'T and walk through the rest of the day as best I CAN. So that's what I did.
Now it's time for bed and this rough day is pushing my buttons right to the finish line! But that's okay, because I've held onto the Big Picture view:
I'm still a runner. My life is still moving forward. And tomorrow is a new day.