Sunday, April 19, 2009

rethinking perfect

Okay, I'm going to admit to something now that may be shocking. I'm not proud of it, and you probably won't believe it when you read it.

Okay, here goes.

I am not perfect.

Phew. That was hard. You see, up until March 22, 1:01 PM Rome time, I believed that I had to be. In work, in life, in relationships and now in running.

Okay, the reason why I say you probably can't believe it, is because I come off far from perfect in all the above-mentioned areas. But it's my little secret that I'm always trying to be, end up not being, and then spend a fair amount of in-my-own-head time berating myself for it.

So with this whole running thing, from the start I went into it with a set of beliefs that in order to be able to pull off running the marathon, I had to complete the training schedule exactly as it was written.

And then, I started, and what invariably happens with everything, I missed a long run day (as written about earlier), then I wasn't able to make it to a Tuesday practice, then I gave up a Sunday run here and there, and had a bad run in Bronx.

But a funny thing also happened. Because seeing myself as a runner was always so foreign to me, such a huge improbable feat, I wasn't as hard on myself as I usually am. Instead of bagging the whole thing and giving up, I kept going.

I went to about 75% of the Tuesday practices, all of the Saturday practices, and did most, but definitely not all, of the week-day practices on my own. I'd say I gave it a solid B+ effort. I gave up perfection, and instead, went for completion.

And so on the big day, I was a little nervous that I hadn't put in 100 percent of the work, but I trusted the process and gave it my personal best. And it worked. Much to my surprise, in the end I completed the marathon with an even better result than what I'd expected.

Wow. Big lesson.

So many times throughout this training process I've learned that I'm capable of a lot more than I thought, physically and mentally, but this realization changed a whole set of beliefs about life in general. Like a too-young dress from my 20s that no longer fit my more mature, 30-year-old self, it was time to give up on this perfection-seeking mindset. I now see that you accomplish something pretty amazing with a "good enough" effort, and that "perfect" does more to hinder you than help you.

And I can see that instead of now skidding between the dual poles of "perfect" and good enough for government work that's created more dissatisfaction than I care to admit, a new default has been set (hopefully.) Through experience, I've seen how putting in your best effort and calling it a day can work in running, so now I'm going to see how it plays out in life, love and work.

I'm hoping that just like the results on marathon day in Rome, things will turn out better than expected, and I'll accomplish some pretty amazing things.


  1. Hi - I just came across your blog.. and I feel it's heavensent. A year ago, I ran a half-marathon... and sort of, fell out of running. I've been wanting to get back into it, and your blog may have just been the spoonful of medicine I needed. I enjoyed reading about your marathon and have both a bit of inspiration and jealously and completely relate to some of the things you mentioned. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Thank you so much! Yes, I definitely am not one of those die-hard, I've got to run four times a week come rain or shine type people. Even though I know how good it feels to get out there and run, sometimes it's still not enough to motivate me to get off the couch. Really, the only thing that does motivate me is signing up for a race! Good luck in getting back on track and definitely check in and let me know how it's going! I'll be posting more regularly now that I'm back in training!