Believe it or not, this post is running related. It’s also underwear related, although I try never to run in the underwear in question. Anyway, at least once a week, I find myself with underwear inside out and laugh every time. It’s never not funny to have to flip your underwear while wearing business clothes and standing on one foot in a bathroom stall. Because why would you ever find out before you left home…
Anyway, about 2 years ago, I made a life decision that that markedly improved my quality of life, challenged my general insistence on perfection and made me far more likely to find myself with inside out underwear. What was this decision? I stopped folding my underwear. There. I said it. My mom is almost definitely disappointed in me, but at some point while working full time, training, coaching, taking pre-med classes and studying for the MCAT while doing laundry at the local laundromat, I found myself unable to fathom spending 20 extra minutes to fold my underwear. So I didn’t. I headed home and threw them in the drawer where they lived anyway and life went on. If it gives you any impression of how wound up I can be, it was one of the most freeing experiences of my life. I haven’t folded underwear since (unless I’m traveling, let’s not get insane) and it is a similarly amazing experience every time I realize I don’t have to fold underwear for 20 minutes.
So what do my laundry habits have to do with running? Letting go of perfection is really, really difficult for me. This quest for perfection spills over into my running. Of course, some elements of this are part of why I’m successful at running. Other elements, however, self-sabotage me out of workouts and races. If I have a bad repetition or mile, I’m prone to starting the downward spiral towards “I suck and will never reach my goals-ville.” I react to missing assigned paces almost the same as I would react to missing a workout. Bad runs can trip me up for the week to come because for me, not being perfect is unacceptable. I’m literally never happy with a race and barely make it across the finish line before I start picking apart what I could have done better.
Logically, I know that perfection is unattainable in almost any pursuit and most definitely in running and medicine. Emotionally, however, it’s still a daily struggle to realize that giving it the best I have on any given day and getting close enough is the best most of us can ask for.
What silly life “rules” have your broken over the years? How do your personality traits show up in your approach to running?