What to do about failure: a heavy dose of self-compassion + a sprinkle of commiseration

This weekend I had a setback.

Between a fitness project I’m working on (that I’ll share more about soon) in addition to marathon training, I haven’t been running as much as I could be. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely running a lot, but I could have another short run day added in the mix if I really tried. It hasn’t been affecting me terribly, and even though it’s been tough as hell I figured that since I already ran 16 miles I was clearly on the right track. Fast forward to this past Saturday morning for our 18-miler and I was a wreck. An absolutely wreck.

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I felt like the Tin Man, in need of oil at my “hinges.” My hip flexors felt so tight that I was barely bending my legs with every step, and with each additional mile it felt worse and worse. I wasn’t sure whether I was just tired, going through typical running pains, hitting a wall, or if I was actually hurt, so I kept pushing. I could tell after the first four miles that it was going to be horrible. When we hit mile six I wanted to vomit thinking that we were only 1/3 of the way through. I even thought about stopping at mile 10 and running with a slower pace group, but I kept pushing. We finally hit a point where I was close to lululemon and I just knew I had to stop. I awkwardly slipped out of line with my running group at Oak Street Beach, ran under the bridge, and came up to my store. I had completed 13 miles instead of 18 and I felt like a complete and total failure. I knocked on the door of lululemon (the store wasn’t open yet) and the second my manager opened the door I just started crying. I was more frustrated than I’d been in years. I’m in the home stretch of training and I can’t even hit the marks? 18 miles shouldn’t be impossible. I know that 13 miles is where I hit my wall. WHY didn’t I push through it? Where was my discipline?

My coworker was quick to reframe my thinking: where was my compassion? Compassion for myself? Marathon training is hard. My body probably has no idea what I’m doing to it and what the end goal is. And while I could definitely take the short runs more seriously instead of pounding through the long ones and using those as my markers for success, I have to just move forward and not wallow in the fact that I ended my run a few miles early. So I didn’t spend another minute mad at myself this weekend. I got over it and celebrated the fact that 13 miles, a HALF MARATHON, is pretty common in my life these days. And that’s incredible.

So I spent the rest of the weekend doing what I do best: EATING.

Tuna melts with Mom at our favorite spot:

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A family BBQ in the suburbs complete with Billy Joel radio, pineapple margaritas, and every grilled vegetable on the planet:

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Late morning Sunday wake-up call with peach french toast on our deck:

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Roasted tomatoes from my mom’s garden:

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And a bit of quiet reflection on my porch swing as I enjoyed the 80+ temps we got this weekend:

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The verdict? There is nothing wrong with my life, even though I didn’t run 18 miles this weekend.

20 miler, I’m coming for ya. Just have to work on these Tin Man hinges first.

Question:

  • Did you struggle during training with your first marathon?
  • How do you stay disciplined with running with everything else you have going on?
  • How are you spending your Labor Day weekend?
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35 comments

  1. Hey girl!! Your body was definitely trying to tell you something and honestly it’s good you listened. There’s nothing wrong with stopping short of a long run bc in the long run (there’s lots of long runs going on in this sentence haha) it will be better for you. It’s definitely hard to determine sometimes what’s going on with your body during a run. No sweat you’ll run down that 20 like the star that you are. Omg- that food…mmmm so tasty. I love eating too! 💗

  2. Next time you call me immediately! You know that is what I DO! You’ll be fine for these upcoming runs. You can’t control the past, but you can work on your future–so do what you can to prep for these last few runs and bring the whole damn thing home. You haven’t worked this hard to let it all go!

  3. So awesome how you bounced back so fast after that girl! Love your perspective after- your body was probably confused and tired and it sounds like you completely honoured that! Hears to the next long run 🙂 kindness to ourselves is somehow harder than being kind to others but sooo important! 🙂 ps omg that frenh toast looks AMAZING- Recipe? 🙂

  4. I LOOOVE tuna melts! I guess that’s what I’m having for dinner today 🙂

    My first marathon is coming this Saturday and the closer the day, the more scared I am…

  5. How do I stay disciplined with training? I have a super strong will, but I also have OCD tendencies. Probably not the answer you’re looking for, but it’s an honest one. The biggest struggle I have is being careful not to push through injury or sickness, which I have done before, but not often, thank goodness. For some reason, I am able to hold back if I know I really need to.

  6. Hi! New to your blog, but I very much can relate with this post! I had a tin-man feeling run on Saturday as well, the heat/humidity slayed me! Glad you moved on and enjoyed the rest of your weekend!

  7. I’m so glad you were able to show yourself compassion. Some days, we just don’t have it. Other aspects in life (stress, sleep) that may have happened days before a run are capable of making it challenging. 13 miles is so a HELL OF A LOT! You’ll be ready for 26.2 in no time!

  8. Wow I couldn’t even dream of 13 miles. You are awesome, strong and totally did the best thing – you listened to your body. I think stopping at 13 miles was actually the brave thing to do.
    It looks like you had an awesome weekend though – and those tomatoes look incredible!

  9. I am sending you all the best wishes, Lauren! I can’t tell you how many times I couldn’t get through a long run when training for my first marathon. Girl, they are SOO tough. Even now, I have long runs that can feel so good and then the next week feels like the worst run of my life – like I’m a new runner! It happens. But you should be so proud of the fact you made it 13 miles!! That in itself is so good for your training too. You will definitely be ready for Chicago in a few short weeks!! ❤

  10. Saturday was a tough day, for sure. Definitely not the ideal conditions for an 18 miler! Marathon training is the sum of all the parts of 18 weeks worth of work, not just one run, and to be honest you’ll be just fine having not run the 18, and what you did accomplish is no small potatoes. That being said, the mental benefits of a long run are just as critical to marathon success as the physical benefits, and now is as good of a time as any to figure out what you need to do to keep your head in the game beyond mile 13 (self-compassion is certainly an effective coping strategy!). You’ll have plenty of time to figure that out on the remaining long runs, of course, but having those mental tricks in your back pocket that you picked up during training can make all the difference on race day.

  11. Never ever trained for a marathon, so I give you TONS AND TONS of credit… That being said – when it comes to working out and never missing one, I work out early in the morning before the day begins – so nothing gets in the way! Honestly, nothing feels better than waking up before the world, working out HARD and then feeling super accomplished right as people start to wake up!

  12. Love the message behind this post! We tend to be so hard on ourselves, so I’m glad that you were able to change your attitude and celebrate your 13 miles instead of getting down on yourself. Keep pushing through your training, you can do it! And PS – If I ran 13 miles I would totally throw up. I give you runners tons of props! Marathon training is NOT an easy thing.

  13. I struggled a lot with marathon training for my first marathon… that didn’t happen. (I’ve went through the training cycle twice – first marathon I moved to SF so it didn’t happen). I had a lot of missed workouts for this past cycle – I was in the middle of a break-up and bed just seemed a lot nicer than a 10 mile track workout some mornings. Running ebbs and flows for me – right now I’ve been feeling good but in June, July and August it was NOT a priority for me. Know that for every bad run there’s an AMAZING one around the corner – trust me 🙂

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