Once upon a time I was a half marathon runner. I was also addicted to exercise, anorexic and teetering on clinical exhaustion. I refused to let my body rest when it needed it, and I suffered for it. I would take “breaks” that weren’t real breaks. When I did take a “Break,” I would leap back into activity and push myself even harder, because I took a break. Eventually, I stopped being able to use my right leg to drive, and I couldn’t sleep because of the pains in it waking me up.
You would think that I learned my lesson.
But the thing is, even after all that, even since I’ve basically had to give up running and I have learned how to relax on a vacation and I now know to sleep when I need it… there is still something that I struggle with. It bites me in the butt often, and I’m wondering if you do it too?
I push myself too hard when I start something.
It doesn’t matter when I know that I harbor an injury, when I start up a new physical goal for myself, I always ask way too much of myself from the get go.
It doesn’t matter if I didn’t know anything about running a profitable e-business yet, I would somehow tell myself I can figure this out in the next six months.
It doesn’t matter that I’ve never touched clay, if I wanted to begin doing pottery, I would inevitably tell myself that I was going to craft a perfect mug in the first week I took up this new hobby.
And so on.
There are so many ways and times I expect way too much of myself, too soon.
Do you do this? Why do we do this?
Yesterday, I was jogging in my neighborhood, and thinking about this very concept. About how I started a Couch to 5k and I couldn’t even do the first week of exercises. About how I just had a baby two months ago. About how my leg already hurts again and maybe this Couch to 5k might not happen in 2 months like it’s planned. In fact, as I was slowing to a walk after the two minutes of running (which is all I can do at present), I realized it might not happen in the next four months. I reflected on what would happen if I pushed myself very hard. What I KNOW will happen: I would burn out before I ever reach my goal. And if I don’t push myself too hard, I will ache mentally SO much.
And that’s when I realized why and how we do this – or at least me!
Each time, when I know I’m pushing myself hard, I simultaneously work myself up with thought of this challenge that I’m going to tackle, and conquer, and I also push out any of the possibility of discomfort. Despite what dozens of previous episodes prove, I still manage to lie to myself every time by saying, “This time, I will do it.” And I know it’s specifically because I don’t want to feel the discomfort of doing something slowly, baby stepping my way. It doesn’t feel sexy. It doesn’t feel like something I’m going to puff my chest out with pride over. Running a 5k 6 months from now? How is that an accomplishment?
That’s what I hear in my head.
So I opt to push myself. My ego lets me lie to myself every single time, because I want to feel that “look at me go” energy. And I don’t want to feel the slogging mentality of taking something slow and steady.
And that’s why I’m able to conveniently forget that I haven’t met a physical goal (in this case) in the last three years. Or that, every single time, I push myself too hard, too fast, and I burn out too soon. Or I get hurt again.
This time, somehow, I heard a different voice.
Maybe I’m growing up finally. Maybe my body is insisting on truth, when my mind wants to avoid it, but this time, slowing down to a gentle walk, I heard a voice say, “If it takes a year.”
What if I remove my ego. What if I don’t push myself, or even, really, challenge myself. What if I let myself take as long as it takes. As long as it needs. Truthfully, it comes down to this: What’s my rush?
What’s your rush?