Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Progress, Success, and Mean People

I’ve always been a play by the rules kinda girl. That straight and narrow line—I’m following it. That to-do list—I’m crossing things off, in order.  I’ve always strove to stay out of trouble and follow the rules. I don’t create waves. I don’t question authority. If my boss told me to jump, I’d start jumping as high and fast and hard as I could and never even question why or how high. I do what I’m told. I hate being in trouble or feeling like I’m not doing something I’m “supposed” to do. I’ve followed life according to a plan and have always managed reach each goal. I work hard. I do what I’m supposed to do. And, usually that pays off. I've always kinda believed it SHOULD pay off. Work hard, you'll reach your goal. I studied hard and got good grades, so I got into a good grad school. I worked my booty off in grad school, so I got a good first job. I save money now, so I’ll have money in my IRA for later. I looked for nice boys and never settled for jerks, and met and married the Hubs. I do the “right” things in the “right order” and assume life will work itself out the way it’s “supposed” to. Ultimately, I know that’s crazy talk and life just doesn’t work that way. There is no “right” way or a “right” order to things in life. Life’s messy. It doesn’t have a to-do list or an agenda or a set of rules. Sometimes bad shit happens to good people. Sometimes you work your ass off for something and do everything you’re supposed to do and you DON’T reach your goal.

Never has this been more apparent for me than with running. See—I can follow a training plan to the T. I can hit each mileage goal each week. I can do every second of cross training. I can even eat semi-good and take my vitamins. I can wear the right shoes and eat the right Gu’s and stretch and foam roll and do everything everyone says to do to become a good runner. And, still… sometimes, to me, it feels like progress isn’t happening. It feels like I’m not getting any better. Like I’m still breathing SO heavy and still just as slow and not losing any weight and not getting any more in shape and just not getting any better. Sometimes it feels like no matter how much I do what I’m told and what I’m “supposed” to do, I’m not seeing any progress.

Or am I???

Where is this coming from? Well, while I do think it's a lot my personal-mental-beat-myself-up-ness, I think a lot of it comes from some recent conversations with people who don't really matter all that much, yet I let what they say effect me like this. In the last few weeks I've had someone ask me "Um, if you run as much as you say you do, why aren't you skinnier?". TO MY FACE! I also had MORE THAN ONE person comment on that if I'm a "marathoner" shouldn't I be able to run faster than I do? I feel like I should definitely mention that the people who said these things have NEVER RUN A MARATHON (or probably even a mile, for that matter). I also had someone tell me I should be much faster already if I put in as many miles as I say I do. And someone tell me they thought I would have lost more weight during training. And someone ask me if you don't run a sub-4:00 marathon, does it even count? WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?? These are not MY people. They are people who mean just about nothing to me in the grand scheme of life. Random acquaintances, co-workers, etc. Not friends or family. I KNOW that means it shouldn't mean anything to me... but, it still stings and makes me doubt myself and makes me feel like I've made NO progress.  
Then, I saw this today (can't find where I saw it to give its source-- sorry!):
 Photo: "Some quit due to slow progress, never grasping the fact that slow progress is progress."

And I realized… I am seeing progress. Even if THEY don't think it's progress or even if THEY don't see it. I AM SEEING PROGRESS. Sometimes it’s just slow progress. Maybe I’m just a product of this ADD-generation I’m a part of. Maybe the idea of having to WAIT for change is just too much for me to handle. I don’t know. But, until I saw this—I didn’t really credit the progress I have made… albeit slow and sometimes minimal progress. Slow progress is still progress. I AM a  better runner today than I was 6 months ago. Simples as that. Screw what other people think or say. Have I made as much progress as other people (and even myself sometimes) think I’m “supposed” to have made? Maybe not. But ya know what… who decides how much I’m supposed to have progressed? Who is this magical authority that I keep thinking of as the person who makes the rules and the person who gets to decide if I’m where I’m “supposed” to be? Should I be the only person who decides that?
Sometimes we’re just SO hard on ourselves. Sometimes I’m just SO hard on myself. Sometimes I listen more to the haters than to the people who really matter. I forget to give credit where credits due. I HAVE made progress. I’ve covered more distance. I’ve gotten faster. Am I covering ultra-marathon (or even marathon for that matter) distances or running sub-7-minute miles? No. SO WHAT? Slow and even small progress is still PROGRESS. I'm still DOING this. I CAN still do this.

So, I’m reminding myself to get off my back and to say SCREW YOU to the haters. I’m reminding myself to give credit where credit’s due. I’m reminding myself that I kinda do kick ass because I won’t quit, even on the days where progress feels non-existent and even on days when stupid people say stupid and mean things. I’m reminding myself that it’s really pretty dumb to be my own worst enemy and maybe even more dumb to listen to what mean people say.

So, I’m working on it. Again. Still. Whatever. I’m working on it. I’m not giving up. I’m not diminishing my progress.  I’m taking a moment to be proud of the progress I have made. Because I HAVE MADE PROGRESS and because I will continue to make progress... everyday. I'm taking a moment to celebrate the progress I've made instead of focusing on how much more progress I could (and hopefully will someday!) make. Progress is progress. Success can be in the eye of the beholder and dammit, today-- i say I am a success.


  1. You have made a ton of progress and you are doing awesome. Definitely give yourself more credit than you have before because it has been earned. I say that you go celebrate with some fro yo tonight!

  2. I hope you responded to each of them with, "How many miles have you run today?"