Monday, April 2, 2012

Be better than YOU were yesterday

I wanted to prove to myself that I could write a meaningful post without innuendo or references to Pairis Hilton. This is me taking off my dunce hat and putting on my coaching hat.  Back to my normal ridiculousness on Tuesday!



A few times a month I’ll get a message from a friend or one of the athletes that I coach that exclaims that they wished they were faster.  They wish they were faster than so and so.  They wish they were as fast as me. They don’t want to run a race because they’re too slow.  Whenever I see one of these I always have the same response: Don’t try to be better than everyone else, instead be better than YOU were yesterday.

The inverse reminds me of the movie Office Space.  It essentially follows the stupidity of working in corporate America and all of the dumb things that happen during day to day life.  In one of the early scenes, the main character is telling a shrink about how today was the worst day of his life: “So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me, that's on the worst day of my life.”  Depressing, right?

My message is certainly easier said than done.  I’ll admit that it likely sounds like mindless coaching mantra.  The equivalent of a high school baseball coach yelling at the players to “keep their head on a swivel”.  But, as mindless as it might sound, I’ve found that the key to success and happiness with running is to make sure that you’re always improving – always continuing to get better.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that bad days happen.  Bad running days and bad “life” days alike are an unfortunate reality.  Sometimes there is a reason like poor hydration or nutrition the day before – other days there just aren’t.  Often all it takes is an errant pot hole to completely derail months worth of work and sideline an otherwise perfect running day/month/year.  But overall the trajectory should be upwards.  Each day (on average) should be better than the day before.  Bad days serve their purpose.  They help us to find out what doesn’t work or what should or shouldn’t be done before or after a run or help us remind ourselves how good we had it during the good times.  However, much like a bad girlfriend, bad days should be learned from and then promptly forgotten.

Simply put, having each day “better” is the key.  Who defines better? YOU do! Better could mean faster, sure. But better could also mean easier. Or better could mean closer running friends, stronger relationships, or even bringing the sport to someone else who would have otherwise never laced up a “jogging” shoe.  Even after a significant injury, attempting to make each day better than the one before it is still possible.  All it takes is a little work to redefine your definition of “better”.

Personally, each day, I’ll take a pulse of each run. I’ll decide if it was hard, sucky, or if I felt like I floated on air.  Not only day by day but also month by month.  Often I’ll go back 3 months and analyze where I was then, how I felt when running an easy run, and try to determine if that is better or worse than now.  While sometimes seemingly impossible, I try my hardest to never compare myself to other runners. If I run a 10 minute PR but come in last, does that matter?  I still ran faster than I ever have in my life?

When I respond to people who tell me they wish they were faster, I tell them that as irreverent as I am on my blog, I am horribly serious about my training and my coaching.  I run more miles than most and sacrifice nearly all of my personal time to be the best that I can be and helping others do likewise.  However, at the end of the day running is supposed to be fun.  If I wasn’t having a good time I would most certainly stop and evaluate what I was doing.  I would evaluate and redefine “better”. After all, we’ll all get slower – but hopefully running will stay fun for years and years to come.




Whew, that took a lot longer to write than I thought it would. Making cracks at poop and Charlie Sheen is waaaaay easier. Must post more of that.

22 comments:

gene @boutdrz said...

ummm....who ARE YOU?
jk. great post. I echoed similar sentiments in a twitter chat last week. I am only ever trying to beat ME (and that crazy person running in costume. wow.)

good post, Coach.

2 Slow 4 Boston said...

Your post is a good reminder of how most of us should look at running. (But I still want to get faster)

Maybe if Charlie Sheen would read this... Oh, what am I saying, he'll never get it.

bakerunlive.com said...

I have been struggling with this all year. Not being fast enough, and comparing myself to other runners. I lost the joy. I finally realized what I was doing and I've had enough! I run for me and because I enjoy it. Regardless of what my pace is or my finishing time, I want to run!

Precious said...

I love my coach because he makes me feel just as you explained!! :) I am finally having that moment where I can appreciate how far I've come (even just in a few mos) and see progress. I was wallowing that I wasn't where I wanted to be, and wasn't appreciating the success I was having. This was a great post!!!! :)

Yo Momma Runs said...

Great reminder. Next time I'm racing the elderly walker on my gym track, I'll try to remember that it doesn't matter who is faster.

Yo Momma Runs said...

And that picture scares the crap out of me. Why would anyone jump in a place like that, when they could be slithering along with as many body parts touching the surface as possible?

Jen said...

Be better than yesterday… all fine and good until I'm over zealously celebrating on a mountain top at sunset and leap to my death.

;)

I hear ya. Good post.

Julia

mollyberrieshodgepodge said...

Fantastic post!!! It's so easy to get wrapped up in comparing yourself to others in this sport we all love!

mollyberrieshodgepodge said...

Fantastic post!!! It's so easy to get wrapped up in comparing yourself to others in this sport we all love!

Nelly said...

Great post! You are right on, it doesn't matter what others are doing. The only time you need to care what others are doing is if you are a professional runner racing against others. In high school cross track that was probably the only time I was racing against others.

pensive pumpkin said...

this is such a hard one for me. mostly because the only people i'm lapping are the ones on the couch.

thanks for proving you can be serious when necessary. now back to the poop jokes. jk.

Lala Mama said...

Awesome love this post. 1st time on your blog.

Anonymous said...

Loved this post. I am not fast but improving. I have two friends who after running a couple of races said they won't run a other race until they get faster. Both no longer run.

Angela Henrie said...

Thankyou

Brenna said...

This is one of the best posts I've read in quite some time! I wish more people held your attitude. Excuse me while I creepily quote you on my blog.

Katie said...

AMEN. this is something I am struggling with right now.

shannon said...

Well I'm new to this running (8 months) and I have to say you are spot on. I always tell myself that I only need to race against myself. I find it keeps the nerves away. I am training for my first half-marathon in Sept. 2012 and I am so excited. I'm certainly not the fastest but at least I'm running and not sitting around wishing I was...lol ! Blessings and thanks for sharing.

Bill G said...

Just found your blog by clicking next blog and this post came up - THANK YOU! Everyone needs to hear your words are to live by them. I am better today than yesterday and tomorrow will be better than today! The world needs more of this thinking!

Half-Crazed Runner said...

I agree!

Annette@(running)In the Right Direction said...

I actually really loved the post!! Even though I find your others amusing as well. I needed it to...I probably had the worst running day ever today. I was bummed about it for about 10 minutes afterwards but am realizing now I had made a couple of mistakes the day before...and generally speaking it just happens.

Who do you coach...how does one go about finding a coach in their neighborhood?

Beth (i run like a girl) said...

It might have taken you longer to write this post than the Charlie Sheen jokes, but it definitely provides some excellent perspective on lifelong running. I really enjoyed reading this.

Amanda - RunToTheFinish said...

this was actually a really great post and one of the things that i try to remember during all of my training!