On my final training run before the half marathon, I did 18km along Williamstown foreshore. There was a super fit 20-something-year-old woman running in front of me. As she picked up her pace, the distance between us became greater and greater.
For a moment, my inner critic took over telling me I was slow, I was unfit, I would never run at an admirable pace and my pancake bum would never be pert and peach-like. What was a 41-year-old mother of two doing thinking she could compete with real runners? I wallowed in the pit of comparisonitis for a minute or two, then I told that critic to STFU.
I reminded myself that if you run, you’re a runner. That I was living proof that your age or starting fitness level doesn’t matter. I stopped focusing on the faster runner shrinking into the distance and focused on myself. I felt good. The view was great. I wasn’t her. I was me. And me is great. Pancake bum and all.
I’ve often fallen into the comparison trap in business – pondering how well my competitors seem to be doing, wishing I was further along in my business ownership…dare I say it…journey. But what’s the point? Comparing yourself to others saps your energy, energy you could channel into more constructive activities that boost rather than drain you.
Running has come with challenges. There have been running-related injuries (x3), non-running-related surgeries (x2) and the difficulty of carving out time to rack up long runs on the weekends. Three weeks before I headed to London for the half marathon, I got a pretty bad case of COVID. Despite being triple vaxed it hit me like a semi-trailer and I couldn’t get out of bed for five days.
After I recovered, I headed out for my first super slow run only to find that my heart rate spiked despite my heavily reduced pace. I was shattered but I decided not to give up. On my next run, I felt slightly better and I decided that I was going to do the half marathon even if they had to wheelbarrow me across the finish line.
The week before I headed to London for the race, I had an x-ray and ultrasound on my foot and was diagnosed with a partial plantar plate tear, a complex injury that can take 12 months to repair. My podiatrist gave me the ok to run but said that as soon as I got back to Australia, I had to start rehab.
On race day, I rocked up with a strapped foot, jetlag and post-COVID fatigue but I was pumped. I got out there and gave it a red hot crack surprising myself with a time of 2.12. As I crossed the finish line, I was extremely emotional. I had pushed through big hurdles and done it! I’d shown my kids that when you really want something, nothing can stop you. I’d also raised $1680 for Tommy’s to fund vital research into infant loss.
Not being able to run for the last month has probably been the biggest mental challenge to date. At first, I felt completely defeated. But then I tapped into the grit and resilience I’ve developed over the last two years and found other ways to stay fit. I’m doing spin classes and swimming. It’s not ideal, some days I feel overwhelmed and down, but I’m finding a way through.
As a business owner, I’ve faced more than a few challenges and I’ve spent way too much time stressing about scenarios that never eventuate. I used to stew on every challenge, now I focus on finding a way to keep pushing forward. If I’m having a rough day, I think about the moment I crossed that finish line and saw the proud faces of my support crew including my mum and gorgeous kids. I dig deep and connect with the determined, focused and resilient person that running has unlocked. She’s there. She’s strong. She’s capable of more than I’ve ever given her credit for. I’ll stop writing in third person now, I promise.