Racing Against Myself

Exercise is fun. Exercise is hard. Exercise is a mental/physical challenge. Exercise gives me peace of mind. Exercise is a time to dance a little.
But lately, I have been caught up in the race. The race against whom you may ask. Oh, just my fiercest competitor. Myself. Every run, every bike, every swim, every lift is a competition to see if I can beat my previous time/my previous pace.

But why?

Each of these shouldn’t be like that because each workout that I do in each discipline is meant to serve a different purpose. My 5k flat running pace is not going to be the same as my hilly run, and so many things can go wrong on the bike (pedestrians on the bike trail, a strong wind, rain, tired legs, chilliness, traffic) that it isn’t fair to compare bike rides, even on the same course.

So why do I do it? Why am I constantly racing against myself?

Partly, I think I do it to prove to myself that I am making progress. By putting in this time, I NEED to know that it is going to pay off in my races. So I push and push and push.

And it makes me so tired. It makes me tired because pushing is exhausting, and because most of the time I can’t beat every single pace I run, and because it doesn’t leave much room for enjoying exercise when you’re only thinking about going faster.

Reflecting back on the terribly slow and frustrating run I had yesterday, I realized how much time I had to think. My mind wondered all over the place, and I loved it. It is similar to my indoor bike training rides where I let my mind drift and watch movies and TV and enjoy myself. I don’t have a set speed or miles, just a set time to be on the bike, sitting there.

So, I am embracing the slow. I am embracing each part of training. The slow, the fast, and the painful. I need to remember I am not training for a Thursday midafternoon PR while out on a random run. I am training for my RACES. I am training for those set dates, and I am going to shift my mind to focusing on that aspect.

This is a journey. It is a process. And there is no way to sprint to the finish.

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