My Pity-Party Is Over--It's Time To Get Serious


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  121 comments   :  18,967 Views

My brief interaction with a fellow runner a few weeks ago has changed my attitude about running, at a time when I needed it the most.

As I've mentioned in previous blogs, I'm running the Chicago Marathon this Sunday. Training for a marathon is a long process (about 18 weeks), and definitely has its ups and downs. Some weeks, my runs go great and I feel like the race will be a success. Other weeks, my runs are terrible and I start to wonder if I'll be able to finish. Having done this type of training program before, I know that's part of the process.

A few weeks ago, I had a series of pretty terrible runs. And because of that, I started having an internal pity-party that lasted a lot longer than it should have. I started telling myself that these runs were harder for me than the average person. I have young kids, I'm still nursing one of them, I don't get much time to myself, I don't have the time to train as much as I should have, blah, blah, blah. The list could go on and on. My motivation and confidence started to wane, and instead of enjoying the training process, I started to dread it.

Then something happened. I was at mile 18 of my 22-mile run, telling myself it was okay to walk instead continuing to push through the fatigue. I started walking up a hill (which felt like a mountain, but was really a small grade), when I saw a man running in front of me. He was probably in his late 70s or early 80s, shuffling along, braces on each knee, but continued running when I had chosen to walk. Finally I picked up the pace, and eventually came up behind him. As I passed by, he waved and said "Hello." When I asked "How are you doing?" his response was "Pretty good for an old man!"

At that moment, I realized that everyone has their obstacles and I needed to stop internally whining about mine. We all have things that could stop us from reaching our goals or things that make reaching those goals a little more challenging. I'm not the only one, and my challenges aren't any bigger or smaller than anyone else's. I might be tired from being up late with a sick kid, but someone else might be just as tired from working late to meet a deadline at work. When you set a challenging goal for yourself, whether it's to run a marathon or lose 50 pounds, you know it's not going to be easy. If it were easy, everyone would do it.

So now it's time for me to focus on my goal and get serious about finishing this race. I might not be the next Deena Kastor (she's the American record-holder for the marathon and is also running in Chicago this Sunday), but I can finish strong and be proud of my accomplishments.

Have you ever had a pity-party for yourself when times got tough? What did you do to get yourself out of that mentality and back on track?

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    Sometimes you need a pity party for one..its a way I find that I acknowledge my feelings of frustration lets say...but I do agree that it should be short lived you need to move on and get back on the wagon. Music helps me alot and going for a walk alone once I'm back things don't ever seem as bad as I made them out to be. - 10/7/2009   10:20:07 AM
  • 70
    I am SO there with you. I was leaving my weigh in, from my "challenge" I'm participating in. Feeling frustrated with the results, as I can't do a great deal, knee "stuff" going on since end of April. As I made my way down some stairs, whining under my breath, that....if I could move more, if my knee wasn't this way, if...if...if, well, right in front of me, a gentleman walks past (with an obvious skip in his step ;)), and I take a double look, only to notice one leg is a prosthesis (sp?). Yep, that stopped me, literally. I haven't been whining since. Resigning to the "move less" thing too, knowing I will benefit in the long run. : ) God is good & He puts the right people in our lives at the correct time. He will see me through this. Be blessed! : ) - 10/7/2009   10:15:52 AM
  • 69
    When I wallow in self-pity.....I set the timer.
    Timer goes off.....I have to start doing something PRODUCTIVE.
    Clean a closet...
    Organize a cupboard...
    Write a friend...
    Read a positive book...
    I can still be crying....but when the PARTY is's time to MOVE ON..

    T. - 10/7/2009   10:14:23 AM
  • 68
    Good luck with the Marathon. I hope you have an incredible experience! - 10/7/2009   10:11:43 AM
  • 67
    Awesome blog! Sometimes its not how well we do it is more about just getting it done. Better then sitting at home watching everyone else run. Good job, very uplifting! - 10/7/2009   10:06:30 AM
    You can do it, Jen!! You've got all your Spark friends cheering you along the route! GO JEN!!! Rock Chicago!!! - 10/7/2009   10:05:18 AM
  • 65
    oh. Now I really feel guilty for laying off as long as I did - hopefully I am back on track now - with my walking and tracking! Great reminder, thank you! - 10/7/2009   9:57:44 AM
    Oh, I've certainly had my fair share of pity parties in my day ! Luckily, they don't last long. In general, I'm a pretty optimistic person.

    Here's what I do to get past those mental road blocks. I schedule a specific pity party time during the day. Example, let's say I'm feeling really sorry for myself on Monday. Well, I schedule ONE hour of pity time, say from 5pm to 6pm. So, for that one hour I'm allowed to wallow in as much self pity as I like. I over load.

    Now, once the hour is over, that's it. No more self pity, time to get back to the job at hand. I have to decide how badly I want to achieve my goal. What am I ready to do to get where I want to go ?

    We all have self doubts. That's part of being human. The question is whether or not we allow those self doubts to get the better of us.

    - 10/7/2009   9:48:28 AM
  • 63
    I go in a different direction than a lot of these comments -- I have the pity party, and tell myself, "It's okay to feel sorry for yourself" and I whine, then I really whine, until it's ridiculous and I'm laughing at whatever it was I thought was so bad. Somehow there is nothing I can't bring to that point of such drama I just have to laugh at myself and appreciate life again. Thanks for the blog! - 10/7/2009   9:47:56 AM
  • BABE741
    I am no good at running any more--but I use to love it. Nothing better ten flying down the road and just feeling the air!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Good for you!!!!!!!!!! - 10/7/2009   9:47:34 AM
  • 61
    I love that comment "pretty good for an old man" and your conclusion about it. So True. You are going to rock that race. - 10/7/2009   9:30:54 AM
  • 60
    I've had that same thing happen to me here on Spark! I wrote a blog about some bad news last week about getting Plantar fasciatus again and not being able to do much. One of my fellow SP folk commented that I could do all kinds of things by she does in her wheelchair!!
    What a wake-up! My foot hurts and she's fighting her weight battle while in a wheelchair. Needless to say, that got me moving in any way I can.
    It's so easy to let yourself slide, but it's those little moments like that man on the hill, that can really help us refocus.
    The trick is keeping that motivation the next day when you find another excuse! - 10/7/2009   9:29:24 AM
  • 59
    Excellent blog. I'm not a runner, but always have an excuse not to exercise. This blog puts it all in perspective. Thanks
    - 10/7/2009   9:26:39 AM
  • 58
    I sure have! Just wrote my own blog about why my "new" start has yet to get off the ground. Well, we have two new babies in the family, one which lives with me. I was thinking of every excuse I could but the bottom line is, I have to do this no matter what. I can find time for other things , so I should be able to fit this in also. I just need to make this a priority, not a choice! - 10/7/2009   9:19:42 AM
  • 57
    thanks jen! what a great reminder. you are so right!!
    good luck with the marathon you'll do great! - 10/7/2009   9:06:16 AM
    Weirdly, I had the same situation the week before last. I was running the Hamptons Half Marathon and was struggling at miles 10, telling myself that at least finishing it was good enough. When from behind me this ancient dude comes shuffling past me. I knew he had to be in his 70's. (I'm 39) So i'm like, whatever fatigue I feel is all in my's just me making excuses and not pushing myself in any way. I made it my goal to catch up to this guy and couldnt....but at least he smacked me out of my pity party. A couple of days after the race I looked up the stats online and found out he was 72 (I hope that was him, otherwise there were two 70 year old men kicking my butt).

    We're all going to have pity party's from time to time and that's why I realized I need constant coaching. Not from a real coach, but inspirational stories, motivational tapes, people like you...etc. Even the best need a's the only way to get ahead.

    Congrats on your marathon.....your story adds to the coaching I need to complete one myself next year. - 10/7/2009   9:05:46 AM
    Thank you Jen! and good luck to you! - 10/7/2009   9:01:06 AM
    I thought I came to SP to lose weight! Turns out I am carrying more than just extra pounds. "Petty Patti is having a pity party" isn't a very inspirational theme song, but it plays at my house all too often. Thanks for the kick in the seat! - 10/7/2009   8:46:14 AM
  • 53
    Thanks Jen - you just made me realize that I'm in right in the middle of a very hardcore pity party :-) - 10/7/2009   8:28:56 AM
  • 52
    This was a great blog. It's so true that we tend to start thinking of all the reasons something is too hard when we get discouraged. That elderly runner came along at the perfect time to remind us we each need to strive to do our own best, and to reach down inside and pull out that tenacity to get us through. - 10/7/2009   8:26:06 AM
    When I feel like I'm in a tough spot, I tend to look at the big picture and what I want in the end of it. If it's something I want to achieve then I'll suck it up and do that little thing because that means I'm one step closer to getting there.

    -Syph. - 10/7/2009   8:14:39 AM
  • 50
    Thanks for telling it like it is. Excuses are so easy to come up with! And so hard to ignore. You are doing great. - 10/7/2009   8:07:33 AM
  • 49
    Thanks Jen. I needed this to get back on the weight loss track. I finally realized, I too, had been playing the pityparty card. Thanks for the inspiration. - 10/7/2009   7:45:54 AM
  • 48
    Stopping the internal whining is important in lots of areas of life, not just training for a marathon. I think we all get caught up in it at times, but someone comes along or something happens that reminds us that our life could be worse (at least to us). Thanks for the reminder! - 10/7/2009   7:34:30 AM
  • 47
    Best wishes on your marathon. It will all come together at the finish line! What a feeling!! - 10/7/2009   7:09:52 AM
  • 46
    It's not easy but it is not impossible either! I started on 53, I started with SP the 1st of May this year. Since then I am loosing wight according to plan, I did my very first ''from couch to 5K'' this summer, I did the 200 situps in July and now, beginning from the 1st September I am in my ''from 5K to 10K'' training program. Next year I am planning to train for Half Marathon. Why not??? It is never easy but the motivation I get when achieving these goals is so very strong that it keeps me going on. After all, how many people of my age have done all the above starting from below zero? - 10/7/2009   7:08:20 AM
  • 45
    I have had pity parties before during tough times but in short duration, I had my cry, washed my face and went on. You would be surprised at what a good cry will do for you, holding everything in and acting as if nothing is worng is where the problem lies. - 10/7/2009   7:08:16 AM
  • 44
    Thanks Jen! I think I can face that Dove dark chocolate at work today and not eat any. :) I'm so close to the end of my race I'm not going to blow it now!! - 10/7/2009   7:07:49 AM
  • 43
    Thanks for reminding us that everyone has challenges and the way through them is never easy, but once you reach a goal you know it was worth the struggle.

    When you run Chicago this weekend know that the whole Spark community is there in spirit cheering you on! You ARE incredible!
    - 10/7/2009   6:34:51 AM
  • 42
    Just being in such a long race is very inspiring to me. I'm on 5 K and did not start such until I was 63! I've been in four now. You will do great!

    Shirley - 10/7/2009   5:38:43 AM
    I'm right in the middle of a pity-party right now and my ever demanding schedule is not exactly helping; oh yeah, add the crisp weather which doesn't make me wanna go out and walk, let alone run...and even hubby told me that i should at least try... so yeah, i need a kick in the rear, a big one!
    best of luck on Sunday! - 10/7/2009   5:37:56 AM
    Thank you for this super inspirational post! :) - 10/7/2009   2:30:44 AM
  • 39
    Good Luck with the marathon. I really want to be in the Las Vegas marathon next year. I will probably start with a half marathon then do the full marathon. Would love to hear from you after wards to know how it felt to finish it. - 10/7/2009   1:28:52 AM
  • 38
    Thank you jen for sharing your insight. You are very right in that if our goals in life were easy everyone would be doing them. I needed that, thank you. - 10/7/2009   12:18:16 AM
  • _MAOMAO_
    Jen, best success this Sunday! May you have the best training runs ever this week.

    Wow, that story is incredible. I'll remember that when I want to do one more lap around the park and every muscle fiber is telling me NO! I want to quite NOW! It's harder when I just didn't start when I needed to, but I'll remember this story. - 10/7/2009   12:14:36 AM
    Jen - Good Luck. You will do well. Just hang in there. When I am down I think of the saying: "I cried because I had no shoes until I found someone who had no feet" and I snap out of it. Great blog. Chicago - here you come... - 10/7/2009   12:00:43 AM
  • 35
    We all have our obstacles. Some of us can't run but can walk. I plan on walking a half-marathon next year. After talking to my daughter's cardiologist, I am inspired. Two weeks ago, he said he plans on running 8 marathons before the Houston marathon in January. This man has to be in his mid 60s!

    So keep going and good luck! - 10/6/2009   11:57:06 PM
  • 34
    I LOVE significant coincidences--and having your eyes open to see them is part of it.

    All the best on your run. Who knows what you'll offer some other runner? - 10/6/2009   11:54:13 PM
    I was totally like this until yesterday. I'm on this major plateau and I was feeling really sorry for myself when I was like, OKAY!!! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!! I really gave it to myself and decided that I need to take more control. So here I am, hopefully back on track again and determined more than ever!!! Thanks for the article, Jen, and GOOD LUCK! - 10/6/2009   11:51:24 PM
  • 32
    good luck! you are going to do great! - 10/6/2009   11:44:40 PM
    When I was training a few years ago for my (one and so far only) Triathlon, I remember lots of inspirational moments, but when things were really down, I always remembered something short and sweet - Train because you can!

    Good luck on your race. :) - 10/6/2009   11:42:48 PM
  • 30
    I think you can always find motivational things out there, if you look. Alot of times that is all it takes! - 10/6/2009   11:20:02 PM
  • 29
    I used to feel sorry for myself because I had a very unusual upbringing (to really boil it down), and I always felt like a square peg in a round hole. I had to work extremely hard in college, because my earlier education REALLY hadn't prepared me for it. I used to feel that it was unfair. I used to think that everybody else was better off in some way or other than me.

    I don't remember exactly when that changed, but somewhere along the way, I started to realize that what I had missed in opportunities, I made up for in perseverance and sheer determination. I just don't quit, and the harder things are, the more determined I become to see them through. Because of my determination, I have been able to accomplish things that have eluded others.

    I also realized that part of the reason I felt inadequate was that I was measuring myself against other peoples' standards of success. I felt better once I started to define what I wanted for myself and accepted that it was my responsibility to figure out how to get there with the talents I've got. I'm not athletically gifted, but I can walk, run, and bike for pleasure and health. I'm not socially outgoing, but I have some good friends, a loving husband and two great kids. Some of the things I do professionally consistently bring me compliments from people I respect, and give me great satisfaction. I have a great many interests, and I think I could easily fill up several lifetimes with all of them. I guess I just don't have any more room for self-pity.

    I have signed up for marathon updates for you and Nancy. I admire you for what you have taken on, and for all the time you have committed to training. I know that you'll go out and give it the best you've got. I will be cheering you on from Maryland, and I'll be proud of you both no matter what. Just think of the role model you're providing your kids! I hope you come out of it proud, excited, happy, and ALMOST ready to go out and run another one! Good luck! - 10/6/2009   10:58:28 PM
  • 28
    Very motivational, thank you for posting. Good luck on your run. - 10/6/2009   10:39:13 PM
  • 27
    Good luck to you. I've gotten down many times. I just have to remember to keep moving forward. It's so easy to look back and dwell, but moving past it makes you stronger . You should be so proud. I've always wanted to try a marathon, or at the very least a 1/2 marathon. I haven't quite had the guts yet. - 10/6/2009   10:23:35 PM
    Good luck. This year has been my year of running. Saturday I have my second 1/2 Marathon. It is hard to get out everyday or so and run by myself. But I look at my two little kids and just remember that I want to be able to keep up with them years from now. I'm in the military and today we had our annual PRT and knocked 18 seconds off my run time today because of all the training that I'm doing. - 10/6/2009   10:20:20 PM
  • 25
    I read this at just the right time! The comments others have made are really helpful. I was sitting here right now, having a pity party, I am currently training for a half-marathon but injured my foot & I don't think I'll be able to do it, my husband was laid off, I am weaning my nursing baby, I hate my job, blah, blah, the list could just keep going, but as one person said - you 5 maybe 10 secs to feel sorry for yourself & move on. There are so many people who have so many more problems then me. Thanks for your words at just the right time! Good luck on your marathon. - 10/6/2009   9:52:43 PM
  • 24
    I have been off the bandwagon for a while and am hoping to be able get back on track and eat healthier thank you for the inspiration!!! - 10/6/2009   9:22:51 PM
  • 23
    I had a similar moment -- though eating-choice related: My slender sister-in-law and I were discussing how holidays tend to play havoc with the budget and she said, "Well, it's just like all the food -- you have your moment of fun and you get right back into your eating program." I realized that she was always on a "diet" and had a wonderful approach to her discipline that was always a part of her life. She always joins the party and enjoys the food, but she's back to her program when the party is over. That comment was the beginning of a change of attitude for me. - 10/6/2009   9:18:58 PM
    Thanks for the kick in the but I needed to restart my running program. I've been slacking off way too much lately. - 10/6/2009   9:03:39 PM

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