So it turns out that I’m still a competitive gym-goer.
Last night I ran for the first time in a while. “Ran” is maybe a mislabeling of what I did; I haven’t run since September because of my injury(injuries, really) so I knew I needed to take it slow. I went for 45 min total: 40 min at 3/7 walk/easy run (5.5mph) intervals, and then for the last 7min “run” I alternated 1/1 sprints (~9:00/mi pace) and walks, then a 5min jog-to-walk cooldown at the end. Everything was at 0.5% incline to somewhat simulate the roads. I think it totaled about 3.5 miles? It was a good effort for someone who hasn’t run in six months, and it managed to be a good workout (both in length and with the sprint intervals at the end) for someone with my issues, without killing me.
However. At about ~15 min into my run, a girl got on the treadmill next to me and started running. She started at 6.0mph, and then worked her way up to 6.5, then 6.8, then 7.0. And here I am, alternating between my 3.5mph walk and my 5.5mph easy run, looking over at her and getting mad, getting envious, getting all worked up and competitive.
She looked like she was about 20; I’m almost 31. She seemed to be running fine at those paces; I have asthma, exercise-induced asthma. She looked generally okay; I guess I “look” okay too, but I’ve got arthritis and a herniated disc and something pinching my sciatic nerve, I’ve got regularly inflamed tendons and bad ankles: I’ve got disabilities I’m fighting against. (Note: many disabilities aren’t visible, mine included. It is neither fair nor healthy for me to judge someone on their appearance at all, doubly so on injuries or disabilities or health issues, because many can be unseen. All I mean to do here is describe what went on in my head on that treadmill; I’m not saying this is awesome behavior on my part.)
Hell, I just had a surgical procedure done on my back two weeks ago — it’s great that I’m running at all. I have two more procedures coming up in April. I should be glad I’m moving some days.
And yet, I still got that angry competitive surge: I should be doing that, I’ll think. I can do that. I’ve run that fast before. I ran a half marathon. I’m just running slow because I want to. Or I get down on myself: Look at this little thing, she’s running a 9-minute mile pace and just cruising along, while your old, busted, broken, out-of-shape ass is panting at an 11-minute mile. What’s wrong with you?
It turns out that no matter how generous I can be with myself in words, how understanding I can think I am of my own limitations, my own struggles, how honest I am with myself about my own health — it turns out in the end I am still that competitive jealous gym-goer who judges her own performance based on what other people are doing, not on how far she has come herself.
Although that’s not entirely true; I went for 45 min total, while that girl ended up stopping after 2 miles (2 really fast miles, I might point out). I felt good at the end of my (easy) run. My body feels good today. My mood is alright. I’m trying to count that all in the positives column.
And yet, there was that period of awful, ugly competitiveness. Where no matter what I was doing, no matter how awesome it should be that somebody with my body-shit was running at all, everything I was doing wasn’t good enough.
That’s something I need to work on. Not my running pace.