Week in Review-Missing Running and Dealing with Changing Expectations

Hey there! I am trying to figure out a way to do my week in review posts now that I’m not running.  With running, it’s always pretty easy  and straight forward to jot down my mileage, pace, and perceived effort plus any random thoughts.  With my current fitness regimen, it’s a bit tougher.  The workouts encompass a lot more and carry a lot more detail to them.  I also am gauging effort on an individual lift versus overall.  I struggle with some lifts versus others and it also always feels hard.  There is no easy day like there is in running.

Speaking of easy running days, the last several weeks I have been reflecting on my running history and how naturally running has come to me.  It’s always felt relatively effortless to lace up my shoes, head out and run. Sure there were days that felt off or moments where I felt like I was running on baby deer legs, but for the most part, running was fairly effortless.  I worked hard during hard workouts but rarely fell short of my goals (you could make an argument that my goals were too easy but that’s a post for another day.) I didn’t have to do a ton of mental self talk to begin a run, I would just go out and do it.  Of course I felt like I was dying during 400’s or hill repeats but I was comfortable with that.  I KNEW I wouldn’t drop over and die so I pushed until my lungs burned and my legs filled with lactic acid.  And I was good at it.  I’m not the fastest by any stretch of the word but I worked up to a solid middle packer.  I achieved the sub 2 hour half marathon with 90 seconds to spare (on a 13.35 mile course-gotta throw that in haha!) And if you’ve read this blog for a while, you know that endurance has come pretty easily.  My body can run for hours on a Saturday, later go for a 2 hour hike while wearing a 30 pound weighted vest (aka toddler in an Ergo), and follow up with a solid 90 minute effort the next day. I can/could run a lot, recover quickly and begin again.

So what is it that has me focusing on all of this? Well, I am not the best, fastest, or fittest at lifting.  In fact, I’m the “back of the pack” to borrow from running terminology. I spend a lot of time on the “baby bar”; a barbell that is lighter than the Women’s bar.  Sometimes, I progress to the “big girl” bar but overall I lag behind the other women in class.

You may ask, why are you comparing yourself to others?? Well,  I’m also asking myself that. I never or rarely compare myself to others while running.  My BRF Leighanna is a much faster and I believe mentally stronger runner and never once in the years we’ve run together have we competed against each other or I felt like I needed to “beat” her. Improvement with running is always so relative.  Fast is relative.  I mean, show up at any big city road marathon and with 20,000 participants, most people aren’t going to win or place. When running, I have moments where I would try to “race” the person in front of me (usually a random stranger as I kicked my way to the finish line.) With respect to my peers, I want my friends to do well, even if it means they finish in front of me.  When I ran the Cleveland 1/2 marathon a few weeks ago, I couldn’t wait to get to the finish line to find out how my friends had done.  I looked forward to that moment and it propelled me to go faster as I knew how hard we were all working to cover the distance.

To get to the crux of my recent feelings means getting really honest and frankly a little vulnerable.  The truth is that I am putting my old running expectations on my new sport. With running I expect myself to perform well and rarely fail (again it’s all relative to the goal and notwithstanding injuries.) With lifting, there is just so much failure.  Failure to complete a set, failure to set a PR, failure to be able to get the weight off the ground, failure to progress.  In any given hour, I will not meet a given expectation.  And the feeling of unmet expectations has created a cloud. It has me really reflecting on what it means to do well.  In discussing this with my coach who is an immense supporter of me and my progress, it  appears to come down to sport specificity and time.  I’ve honed my skill at running for 7 years.  It’s fairly obvious that it’s going to take time to build the same sport specificity.  But moreso, in order to excel, I am going to have to accept that failure is always going to be present.  One is going to fail in some way and without the failure and the repeated attempts to succeed, there is no growth.  Failure is like the petri dish which cultivates progress, growth and desire to improve.  This sport is all about finding failure.  I am starting to accept that the word failure is not a dirty word unlike the terms DNF or DNS are in the running world.  Those taboo terms elicit groans of compassion and pangs of bad memories from other runners.  Failure in lifting is a temporary place.  A time to place a benchmark or note a temporary time or achievement. A place to begin anew in a few days.  Without failure, where is the drive to push? I frequently find myself saying to myself “it’s supposed to be hard!”

Lifting has precipitated a mental about face for me.  I am actively working on switching my brain cells over to a different way of thinking.  Essentially it comes down to accepting where I am at right now and knowing that this sport isn’t static.  The growth is already there…I just have to redefine  success it and be consistent over time.  I am up for the challenge.

My little training log has turned into quite the missive on failure, expectations, success and growth.  I’ll end here for now and maybe later in the week share some of the specific tasks I’ve been working on.  Quickly, I also want to share that I started this post yesterday after having some negative self talk after my workout.  Today, i was able to complete a tough workout which required the use of a really underdeveloped muscle that has been challenging me.   I had absolutely no confidence that I’d be able to complete the workout with the recommended weight. But I did.  Growth is there and it’s happening all around me.  I just need to open my eyes to it.

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