Week 117: New “Normal”, Too “Normal”

I spent some time this week analyzing my running so far this year. My hypothesis was that I am running less frequently or shorter distances and am slacking a bit. I was speculating that this was why I wasn’t reaching my speed goal so far this year. My logic was that I wasn’t running enough to keep improving.

The results of my analysis: I am wrong.

I am not running less. I average about 30 miles per month of focused, non-race running time minus any treadmill runs. I excluded treadmill runs because I tend to do those about once per week as a warm-up for my weekly personal training sessions and I tend to experiment with run/walk intervals so that would skew my results. I also excluded the miles upon miles of exercise walking that I do every week (15+ miles this week alone).

So why did I think I was slowing my frequency and distance. When I include races and treadmill runs I am averaging about 10 miles of running per week. How did I think I was slacking off?

It is because this is my new normal!

When I first started running it was out of character for me. It was always new, different and a stretch for me. I was always excited when I could run a mile. I thought it was a major accomplishment. But this is in the past and the newness has worn off.

Each week I run nearly 10 miles, I have a personal training session where I push myself to keep increasing my weight-lifting capacity and I walk at least a half marathon distance per week in exercise walking. That is a lot and it is more than most people do. But, in my mind, I thought I was trailing off because new normal feels too “normal” for me now. I have improved so it feels more comfortable than it used to so it doesn’t feel like I am doing anything impressive.

The lesson I learned this week: I judge myself very harshly for getting better despite the fact I am still killing it.

I let negative self-talk and self criticism fool me into thinking I wasn’t doing a good job.

So what can I do (and you do in your own journey) to counteract this? How does somebody continue to see the reality that what they are doing is, in fact, impressive and not just slacking off? To start with I know I need to purge phrases like “I only ran 5 miles” and “my run was pretty slow” from my vernacular and celebrate my continued commitment to my goals instead. I also need to stop assuming that I am doing less work simply because I am adjusting to my new “normal” in my fitness life!

Finally, embracing the way my head is wired, I need to keep looking at the data. I need to not let the runs just get intermingled with the other exercises. If I want to keep improving I need to pay particular attention to my running history. If nothing else it will stop me from making gut-feel hypotheses that I am not working hard!

On a related note the Columbus Marathon is just 7 weeks away! Not sure if I am ready but the calendar stops for nobody. I know I will finish, I know my time will be decent, I know that it should be better than last year (this will be my 7th 13.1 run in just over a year) but will it hit my stretch goal and be faster than the Cap City Half?

Thanks so much for reading and for your support. I sincerely hope that my experiences and my tips can help you achieve your own big goals. If we work together we can build a world where goals never die of loneliness!