Leave Your Ego Behind

It’s officially that time of year.

The air is fresh, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the paths are cleared.

It’s running season. For real this time.

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No more “I wonder if it might start snowing” or “The temperature went up 20 degrees in the past five minutes. Sure wish I didn’t wear two layers!” garbage running that’s been thrown our way thanks to some split personality weather. Things have calmed down and now “The Weather” is only 60% of daily conversation here instead of its usual 85%.

Since I have committed to two races so far (half marathon in July and marathon in October) I figured it was time to lace up the ol’ Asics and hit the trails. I’m working as a run coach for our store so on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays for the next few months I’m committed to running my butt off (having others hold you accountable helps out a lot). Yesterday was our first run as a group (tempo), and I learned a very valuable lesson:

In order to accomplish your goals, you have to start at day one. On day one, you are a novice. You will get smoked. And you’ll hate it. But you have to leave your ego behind.

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I’m not used to being bad at things. That’s not to say I’m not bad at anything, but anything I haven’t excelled at I’ve quit, so as not to humiliate myself. And I can’t say for sure that I’m “bad” at running. But it certainly doesn’t come naturally to me. I dreaded the mile run all throughout school. One mile. I picked it up as something to do to stay in shape during college. It wasn’t a competition, because it was just me and the sidewalk.

When I run, I run lazy. That is, I run for fun. I usually set out to do anywhere from 4-6 miles at a ~9:15 pace. I have never done speedwork, tempo runs, fartlek, or anything like that. I honestly don’t even know what those words really mean. And even though I consider myself a runner, I had a pretty huge shock waiting for me today at our first group run.

The ten of us met at the store and started a quick warmup. I was feeling confident and strong, until the tempo run began. We were instructed to run 20 minutes out, 20 minutes back, for a total of 40 minutes. The first ten were a warmup pace (aka our normal pace, which for me hovers around 9:15), and the second ten were supposed to be a pace 30 seconds faster than normal. The third chunk of ten minutes was a pace 45 seconds faster than our base pace, followed by a cooldown ten at our warmup speed.

Sounds simple enough, right? I thought so too. Until we took off and I realized five of the ten runners were pacing 6min miles.

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See that group in front of me? That’s how far behind I was. At that was the closest gap I had the whole run.

The feeling of watching people run faster and further away from you SUCKS. It’s completely out of your control. You’re only as fast as you are in that present moment. No matter how quickly I moved my legs or swung my arms, there was no way I was going to catch up. I was so, so angry at myself. I gave it everything I had and didn’t even care that I was basically wheezing and dry heaving as I passed other runners. In the end, I ran those 5 or so miles at an incredibly fast speed….for me. My splits ranged between 8:28 and 8:45. I was damn proud!

The moral of the story? Everyone starts somewhere. This is my first marathon. This is the first time I’ve ever viewed running as a competition. I didn’t casually meander onto my Varsity basketball team in high school. I spent years in the gym learning the game, practicing  moves, and mastering fundamentals. Running is no different. It is my new sport, my new team. The team just happens to be me, myself and I. And right now I just have to leave my ego behind, accept that for now I am slower than many other runners, and be excited to get better.

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That’s where I am right now. I feel like a sponge, ready to soak up all the running information. I’m excited to get better. I’m tired of only doing things I’m good at. Because when you do that, you don’t grow. I’m proud that I set a goal that will actually be difficult to accomplish, and you know what? I might fail. I’ve never set a goal before that I might fail.

Have you?

But so what? So what if I fail? Who is that hurting? My ego? A figment of my imagination? WHO CARES! I read a quote the other day that resonated with me then and even more now that my ego is feeling pretty bruised:

The ego desires perfection. The inner-self lives in authenticity

Even though we are all at different paces and have different goals, we are all on the same path. At the end of our run we were all back on equal footing in our dedication, passion, and love for the sport.

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That being said, if anyone in Chicago is looking for a running group, we meet at the lululemon Rush store in the Gold Coast on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6pm and Saturday mornings at 7am. Tuesdays are tempo runs, Thursday is speed work, and Saturday is a long run. I’d love to share the joy of running with you 🙂

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47 comments

  1. I definitely shy away from running with people who are faster than me. It can be intimidating! But of course its important to push yourself from time to time, and that will lead to huge improvements. Great job sticking it out, and I know you will surprise yourself with how much you will accomplish by adding in some of the tougher workouts!

  2. I LOVE this post. I also really love that quote you shared. I need to remind myself of that all the time that if I don’t kick complete ass at something right away, so what?! It is best to always try and keep at it, you don’t have to be the best — that’s not what anything should be about, and as soon as it becomes about that ego (and besting) you lose sight of the passion and enjoyment that made you try in the first place. Good for you. I love running, but I also have never been terrific (I think at my fittest point I was running about a 9 minute mile and I was like “pop champagne” lol), but you do improve and it’s so empowering. Good for you! 🙂

    1. Isn’t that quote great?! It really stuck with me! It’s not about being the best right off the bat, you’re right. I was so proud of my 9 minute mile! Haha but I guess there will ALWAYS be people faster than you, no matter how fast you are. So it’s silly to compare.

      1. A 9 minute mile is GOOD. I so didn’t mean to imply it isn’t, but for me it was like – this is probably as good as it’s going to get lol! It is silly to compare, though, you’re right do it because it feels good and it’s fun! 🙂

  3. I am so with you on this one! I used to be the same, only doing things I was good at and then I started CrossFit… That was definitely a wake up call! But I stuck with it and grew and grew, progressed, achieved goals and have developed more as a person than I ever thought I could! Even with running, I used to run behind everyone else, now I run with the rest of the pack!
    Potential and growth can be so exciting!

  4. I think you will grow so much through this Lulu experience as well as training for the marathon. The combination of the two is going to cause you to grow in so many ways, and I am so excited for you!

  5. I wish I could meet up with you for a run! You didn’t fail even one little bit…you did great and that pace is fantastic for 5 miles! I am so excited to read about your training for this marathon. You’re going to be GREAT, my friend!

  6. I’m always so hesitant to run with others. I just joined a run club yesterday (!!) and found myself enjoying my run much more. Running with others definitely pushes me to train harder. I think going once a week will help me improve my speed, while keeping running fun and social! Post run beers didn’t hurt either 🙂

    1. It’s tough, but it really does make running more enjoyable. I am so competitive, so it helps to push me past my comfort zone (by a lot haha). Going once a week will definitely help, and it’s a great social event too, for sure!

  7. i’ve long been a solo runner, but i think it’d help me to have running partners — good motivation and will help me to not focus on my nagging injury (right calf, whatttt). i also have a full marathon in October! wish we could train together!

  8. Love this! I really need to join a running group because I tend to do all of my runs at the same pace. I just hate speedwork! I know if I ever want to become a better runner I need to work at it.

  9. I love this! You have to start somewhere and I think the things that don’t feel like they come naturally end up being the most rewarding a lot of the time. Running and yoga are both that way for me. I’m so inspired by you and this post 🙂

    1. I can’t wait to see the reward for all my hard work. It’s been awhile since I’ve really pushed myself (unless you count 100 Mile March, which I guess I should!). Thank you for your kind words. Glad to stir up some inspiration 🙂 yoga makes me so happy as well. It’s a perfect balance along with all the running 🙂

  10. Running with people at your ability level is great, but hanging with speedsters can really make a huge difference in what you’re able to do – as I think you saw last night with those 8:xx miles! Obviously you have to stay within your “safety zone,” if you will, and not push yourself to the point of injury, but having people faster than you around can motivate you to work harder than you’d work on your own – at least that’s been my experience. And like you said, you’re just starting out. Just doing anything at this point is fantastic! Maybe one of these days I’ll see if I can make your run club — I could definitely use a kick in the pants in the speed department!

  11. There will always be faster runners, but you are in no way slow!! This is the first marathon you’re training for?! You are keeping amazing paces. Don’t get caught up in how other people are running but instead use that as inspiration. There’s a super fast group at Fleet Feet where I run and my goal is to one day run with the speediest group…but for now, I accept that I am where I am and I have to progress in my own time 🙂 By the way, when I run tempos I am always huffing and puffing to try to keep my pace too. They’re still not enjoyable to me either. But they do work!!

    1. I guess they aren’t supposed to be enjoyable, you’re right haha. I forgot that! If I’m not huffing and puffing then I might as well be running my comfortable, safe pace. Some people just make it look so easy 😉 thanks for your kind words and advice!

  12. Good for you for joining a running club, and for signing up for something big and scary that doesn’t come necessarily super easy. I think those things that push us the most are those that challenge us and where we really feel the reward even more! I’m part of a running club too and I love it- it’s great to get out there with others, and those that pace faster than you will motivate you to go faster, longer, and push yourself harder! Also, I was just in Chicago for a wedding last weekend and loved the city! I’d only been one other time in 2010 for the marathon but didn’t get to play around like we did last weekend! Lucky you to live there!

    1. Glad you loved it here! It’s the best, isn’t it? 🙂 I’m excited to be part of a running club — not only for the motivation and accountability, but because I’m meeting so many people who have similar interests as me!

  13. I am running my first marathon at the end of this month! What you said gives me so much comfort! Who cares if I don’t do “good” or God forbid, finish the race? I have tried and worked hard, so whatever outcome happens, I will be happy with that. Running is fun! I’ll keep doing it no matter if I never race or finish a race again 🙂

  14. Such a great post! Especially love this “Even though we are all at different paces and have different goals, we are all on the same path. At the end of our run we were all back on equal footing in our dedication, passion, and love for the sport.” Yes, yes, yes!!!

  15. Love this and it’s so true! 2 years ago, I was feeling on top of my game and ready to become a group fitness instructor. Fast forward through my 4th pregnancy, 4th csection and here I am huffing and puffing through videos that I wanted to teach live versions of!!! Time to check my ego and make every day better than the one before.

  16. Good for you for pushing through that run! Having people fly past you when you’re running as hard as you can sucks, but like you said, this is only the beginning of your training. It’s a journey, and I’m sure that you’ll get more in your groove and comfortable as your training progresses. BTW, I seriously could not run a 6 minute mile!!! That’s craziness.

  17. I love this post! Ego and running is something I think about a lot because of my yoga practice- I feel like a stronger ego can make one a better runner but yoga is so focused on dissolving the ego so I sometimes feel like in a weird flux between the two! I don’t know if I exolained gat very well but hopefully you know what I mean 🙂 yay for running for joy anyway!!

    1. It can confusing, for sure! I’d say running isn’t about an ego as much as it is about “faking it til you make it” haha. We have to push ourselves to try new distances and paces that we’ve never done before, even if we don’t have the real confidence to do it. Agreed–yay for running for joy!

  18. Just casually stalking backwards 🙂

    I love this post so much. It’s really nice hearing things like this from others’ perspectives. I’m recently coming off of an injury, and so I’ll need to work back up to where I was by starting from scratch.

    I look at slower paces as defeats, but WHO CARES!? Only my ego, that’s who. And screw her 😉

  19. Great post! I just stumbled upon your blog today and this was one of the first ones I read. I was very competitive running in high school, but I will admit that I have certainly since fallen into the slow running days everyday instead of just for recovery. It is certainly awesome to just enjoy the run, but I also enjoy running with faster people sometime just for the extra push.

    1. Agreed! There are times for all kinds of runs — fun runs, runs with those who are faster than you, and everything in between. I think we get hurt/burned out/bored when we obsess over one kind of run and don’t balance them with the others.

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