Overcoming Perfectionism

Many runners identify with the Type A personality: goal-oriented, success driven, and focused on achievement. The satisfaction that comes with checking the boxes of your weekly workouts, hitting all your paces, accomplishing each item that is laid out in front of you is gratifying. But the dark side of this way, is to be lulled into believing that you are in complete control of results, and can somehow avoid experiencing defeat, disappointment, or pain. These things are impossible to always avoid, most definitely pain in running.

Checking those boxes allows a sense of structure and reliability, but it can also create mental limitations.  It can create anxiety, fear of failure, and the absence of joy in your running through what can become a sometimes overly self-critical nature.  It is still important to maintain a humble and forgiving attitude towards yourself: give yourself grace. Failure is an integral part of personal growth. Striving for excellence and achievement while simultaneously accepting the reality of failure is imperative. This dichotomy allows us to learn, grow, and become resilient and optimistic athletes.

Failure is when we grow.

Failure is when we learn to adapt.

Through failure is how we learn to level up.

Failure is how we learn what we're made up.

We can't outrun failure 100% of the time. It is impossible to ALWAYS get 100%. It may also not be an effective use of your energy to strive for 100%. Sometimes 70%-80% is good enough. With regard to workouts, sometimes skipping the last couple of reps is more beneficial to you than you may think. Sometimes finishing the workout can be counterproductive. If 70% is good enough, what purpose is being served by going further? Sometimes doing less is actually doing more. Especially when it comes to your ability to accept yourself as you are, without going to the well to feel satisfied. Can you tolerate skipping the last rep? Can you still find the benefit, find the success in not doing everything perfectly?

Our resilience is built when things are too hard. It's built when we get back up after being unsuccessful. It's about bouncing back, not never being down.

The grit is in the grind.

Ask yourself these questions. They may illuminate if perfectionism is an issue you may need to deal with. And this is a GREAT time to deal with it. While races are on pause, what else is there to do that deal with all the stuff that may hold you back from achieving your future goals?

-Do you delay starting your run or workout because of thoughts that you must completely nail it?

-Do you delay signing up for a race because of fear that you won’t be able to perform to a level you want?

-Do you ever think about how others will judge your workouts/race results?

-Are you the hardest on yourself? Always thinking you could have done better, faster, stronger, longer?

-Is any effort less than 100% a failure?

-How do you define failure?

-How does failure prepare you for other things?

-How does failure teach you about resilience, self-acceptance, and personal growth?

-Is it possible that letting go of a need for a perfect result, a PR, a perfect workout, might relieve some anxiety or pressure?

-Is it possible that putting in a 7 out of 10 effort in order to be good enough might be more valuable to you than straining to get that 10 out of 10? Is the 10 out of 10 going to ever be achievable in your eyes, or will you always find something that could have been better?

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