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Bully Tactics

Monday, February 25, 2013

So, I have this habit, this thing that I do that I would like to stop.

It's like this: I go out for a run, and I'm "enjoying"* it. The first couple laps are always rough, but by Lap 3 I've generally found my groove -- dog's in heaven and all is right with the world, right?

But...then one of two things happen:

emoticon SCENARIO #1
Another runner shows up at the track -- and by runner, I mean a fast runner.

(Wait, let me clarify: NOT a 17-year-old high school wunderkind who can and will TRULY smoke my azz in a blur of speed and sound, no -- I admire those kids all to hell, and godspeed to them)!

No, I'm talking about someone in remotely my same age bracket who runs at a "normal" fast-paced (to me) speed -- maybe 10 minutes/mile, maybe a little bit faster. They show up, and of course, proceed to lap me in their adorable little runner's shorts and perky little assets (males and females alike). How do I respond? Either I get stupidly competitive, speed up and run out of gas almost immediately, or I lose my concentration and get embarrassed (like anyone's comparing us in the stands with stopwatches or what-have-you, sheesh S.B.O.!)

emoticon SCENARIO #2
So, I'm running, and I hit Lap 7 (1.75 miles into my 3.25 mile run) and start to get tired/bored/cold/hot/thirsty/w
hatever. Suddenly, I find I'm talking myself out of running the whole 13 Laps. This happens a lot if it's my first day back at the track after extended treadmilling (and yes, this happened to me yesterday)! A voice inside my head tells me it's okay to stop at Lap 10, or 9, or even 8 because, you know, it's been a while since I hit the track and, hey -- at least I got out here and after all, running two miles is pretty good, especially for my first day back, I mean, it wasn't that long ago that I couldn't even run a single lap...blahblahblah...

emoticon THE RESULT
Either scenario here, the end result is the same: I end up giving in to the seductive little voice in my head that's embarrassed or tired or whatever and do, in fact, STOP RUNNING. Not all the time, for sure. There are many times that I don't give in to it, but I certainly do give in more than I'd like. Sometimes (like yesterday) I give in a lot sooner (went to the track planning on running 11 Laps and walking 2, ended up running only 8 and walking 5). Sometimes the little voice will only end up talking me out of a single lap. Sometimes I tell the voice to eff off and I power my way through.

When I did that 10K, way back when? Total Scenario #1, for sure. I was running shoulder-to-shoulder with thousands of ("real") runners and I lost my nerve. Stopped to walk way early and only ran in short spurts the rest of the race.

Yep, I let the voice get to me.

I'm really tired of this happening, but I don't know how to break this habit. It makes me feel weak, and I don't like disappointing myself.

I KNOW this is all in my head. What I need from you, dear SparkPeeps, is some fodder to fire back at that little voice when it appears, to keep me from giving in as often as I do!

Basically, I need to learn how to become a bully: I need to learn how to bully that seductive "it's okay to stop" voice and put it in it's place.

I'm running a race the first week in April, and it will be my first race back since the disastrous 10K in 2009. I'd really like to go into this run with an actual game plan for how to deal with this bad habit before race day.

So, any thoughts on ways to be a bully?
(Other than, you know, giving that seductive voice a swirlie in the girl's bathroom?)
All suggestions are welcome!

*Running still does suck, though. For about an hour, three times a week!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I have to say, for distance running (particularly on a treadmill), I love audiobooks. They are a great distraction and make the time fly by. For "real world" running, I always run to somewhere, then turn around - That way you have to run the total distance because you have to get home, right? ... and why stop and walk when you get there so much faster by running? I go crazy running on a track because you always have to keep track of how far you have left. I much prefer running a pre-measured distance so I don't have to pay attention. I just know that when I get to a certain song on my playlist, or reach a predetermined rock, it's time to turn around and it's all downhill from there and it seems a bit easier knowing you're on your way home.

    ...and for those times that just suck because they suck? I always think to myself: "if running were easy, everyone would do it" and remind myself that not everyone runs. So you may get passed by those irritatingly fit, skinny people in their short shorts, but you may also get passed by at least one car that thinks "gosh, I wish I were one of those crazy runner people."
    2147 days ago
  • CHARITY1973
    Ok, a bit slow on this blog but here is my two cents worth.

    First, like South Fork, get off the track and run the streets (or trails if you have any close by). Trails are much gentler on your knees. It's much harder for the competitive voice to get going if there is no speed/lap/distance/time to measure against. Also negotiating the obstacles of roads and trails will keep your mind off other runners. Oh, I just remembered, I have a runner friend from Atlanta who mentioned you have great trails through the pine forest. Oh, the smell of pine! Go find those trails girl!

    Second, run to time rather than distance. DON'T look at the Garmin until you are done (or in the case of specific training, only on speed session days). Just say to yourself, I'm running for one hour/half hour/15 minutes. Don't worry about speed. It's irrelevant to training. If my comment sounds off the mark read about endurance. Most distance runners (beyond 1500m) don't train speed until 6 weeks before their events. They run distance at low-ish heart rates. So when that pert Yummy Mummy goes racing past you think to yourself, "You uneducated fool!" Speed is a chumps game if you don't have endurance. The bible, "Lore of Running". Library. Get it.

    Thirdly, we ALL have that voice. Running is never easy, for anyone. What I have found immeasurably helpful is to not make the voice about you (ie you, the ego, the 'what's wrong with me' part of the self). It's just your physiological self preservation kicking in. It's the body testing you. Do you need to be doing this strenuous activity? Because the body wants to preserve strength and calories and fat just in case. Evolution (which thank GOD you believe in) tells us that those people (humanoids) who didn't have 'that' voice may have run themselves right into an early grave by over doing it in primordial times. The voice is just your 'checking in' function. As for the competitive voice, evolution, once again. You didn't get here by your ancestors letting the other guy get to the wooly mammoth first!

    So it isn't about your since of self/ego/id, it's just your body checking in on survival. And you can say back to the inquiring voice, "I'm all good. Got plenty of calories/fat/strength to do the workout I intended. Thanks for asking but I'm OK. And as for the stick insect streaking past me, there ain't no buffalo at the end of this run so she can go chase the imaginary beast all on her own. I'm all good here!"

    And for what it may be worth, I had that voice at 33minutes yesterday. It went like this. "Oh, look how long that beach is! It's too far to the end. I can't run that far today. I don't like running. I'm stupid to run. I'll never keep up this running thing because it sucks." Then a subtle shift from my inner Smeagol. "That's dumb. You run far longer than this all the time. You were born to run. Find your running happy place. Get into the groove. Running is 80% mental. Train the mental beast right now. Without a strong mental beast you won't make it through the 22k mountain run next weekend. Now's your time to ignore the body and use the mind." And I checked my running form; shoulders back, chin tucked in, chest cavity open, eyes on the horizon, and I found my groove. And I ran the whole way.

    That might be slightly more than two cents worth ;-)
    2165 days ago
    I do this too. I just have to find a way to loose myself in my music and block out everyone around me. I remind myself that this is about me and not everyone else.
    2169 days ago
  • KIMBERLY19732
    I'm not a runner, but that voice visits me too. My newest and most effective response is "STOP" just saying it in my head-louder than the negative stuff. I visualize that too ---Big Bold font, red letters, white background-STOP!. As soon as that bad voice starts up with a new tactic I repeat STOP.

    As for music, if you like country music, Little Big Town has a song "TORNADO" that is awesome! "I'm a tornado comin' after you...gonna pick this house up and spin it all around.."
    2172 days ago
    If you can't zone out to music or bribe your way past that sneaky little voice sometimes the only way is to bully yourself. Yes, we are supposed to love ourselves and talk to ourselves nicely, no different than we would encourage other people, but those evil little monsters in our heads sometimes only respond to a major b!tch slap. I have had to self-administer quite a few to the Old Me I have been trying to evolve from :
    2174 days ago
    Try running drunk! ;)
    2176 days ago
    For me it is one of two things.. I either run WITH someone. (I'm stupidly competitive, so I will run with someone who is about the same fitness level as me, or just a smidge behind me.. OK! OK! A smidg e behind me is preferable!)And then I will run with them, and keep pace with them. It keeps me from forcing myself to try keep up with that dude .. Yeah he came to our track last Wednesday!! And it keeps me focused, and then I can't give up because here is someone struggling just as much as I am, and she looks to me to keep going.
    The other one is music. If I can run with someone, then I have to have to have to run with music. I know exactly where it is when that voice kicks in and I have a song planned for that time. And you know what? It happens again in about another lap and a half so I make sure the tempo is good, and that song is damned convincing. And then I have a backup song after that to keep me going! ;-)

    2179 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/1/2013 10:32:18 PM
    Bully the voice right back. May I suggest the 'lyrics' from the Rage Against the Machine song, "Killing in the Name of"? Specifically those after the 4 minute mark.
    2179 days ago
  • PITA_1988
    It is at those times when you want to quit, where you make the most progress toward your goals. When you get into your "groove" you become comfortable. You don't get very far being comfortable. So, when you're thrown out of your comfort zone, that is the very time to keep going. When you physically feel tired and want to quit (as long you are not passing out, hurting yourself, or dying), the work you do after that adds so much more to your progress. Same thing when you get mentally tired, or psych yourself out. Tell yourself this is when you are making the most improvements.
    2181 days ago
    Bribery is the only thing that works for me and exercise-- seriously. Do you have something you enjoy? Put it under threat of revoke if you don't finish your run (for example: I love tv show x-- and if I don't complete my run, I don't get to watch it this week). You can also provide reward over revoke: Find an audio book you LOVE and only allow yourself to listen to it while you are running, or make a goal for yourself: every 10 completed runs is a pedicure-- whatever...

    I bribe myself with tv episodes a lot-- I love the show Damages, but I'm only allowed to watch it when on the treadmill or elliptical. It keeps me going to the gym!

    And if you haven't read it already, shrinking lulu's blog on running gave me a great montra to keep me going-- the full blog is here:

    but essentially, it's this:

    Am I gonna die? NO
    Am I gonna throw up? NO
    Am I gonna hurt myself? NO


    2181 days ago
    emoticon Hang in there!!! Your doing great!
    2181 days ago
    I have this same exact problem! No joke. My little voice convinces me it is ok to not run, shorten my reps, and pretty much snack on whatever I want. It rationalizes my behavior until I feel completely justified not meeting my goals. That is, until later. Later I feel guilty and just plain pissed.
    2182 days ago
    I always imagine someone I despise standing in front of me telling me I can't do it or mocking me. I get so mad that I have to prove them wrong. In other words, I make that voice in my head another person. I'm pretty fierce when it comes to protecting myself from an outside attack.

    Also, maybe you need a new exercise or route. Running a track sounds boring. I love to get lost in my neighborhood or hiking. It feels like an adventure instead of exercise. I don't know if this is an option for you. Keep up the good fight.
    2182 days ago
    I run on the street, so I ever have to share a track,but when I get passed by some cute, fit runner it does take the wind out of my sails a bit. But then, I remember that I'm not running for them; I 'm doing it for me. They're probably cheering me on a little in their heads,if they aren't too wrapped up in their own run to even notice me!

    When I feel like quitting, I ask myself:
    1. Are your lungs going to explode?
    2. Are your legs going to fall off?
    3. Are you going to die?

    When I have to answer "No,"then I take a deep breath, shake it off (yes, I literally give my head and arms a shake),then I get back to what I came to do! Also, you might consider a visualization to help recenter yourself....

    You gotta buckle down, buttercup! Don't let your negative self-talk defeat your efforts! Oh yeah, and remember you have a cheering section back here just waiting to hear how awesome your run was!!!!
    2183 days ago
    All of the above. Don't argue with the voice. Give yourself permission to quit after the next lap. But each time ask yourself if you can go further.

    Music helps. I used it to set my pace and many times I'd have to click forward to get to my favorite song before I was ready to quit. It kept me from pushing too hard and getting winded.

    Is there somewhere else you can jog or can you incorporate running on a sidewalk or parking lot into the track circuits? The monotony of running in circles could be part of the problem. Even if you take every 3rd lap to do a loop around the parking lot it might be enough to keep you from getting bored. It's also a good way to bargain with yourself: 'Well I'll consider quitting after the next lap if I add in a loop outside the track.' Often you will find you are willing to complete another circuit before quitting.
    2183 days ago
    I think the answer may lie in distraction. Arguing with my inner instigator rarely works for me. However, if I can find something else to focus on that really grabs my attention, I no longer hear the naughty one. Fresh, exciting music helps me. Have you ever found yourself grooving along, having a great walk, run, etc and realized for the past several minutes you've been playing the air drums? It's hard to beat that kind of excitement. The problem: not all music excites me the same way consistently. When you're searching for tunes, key in on the ones that make it hard to keep from dancing in your seat.

    Also, feel free to daydream. Or get a smutty book on audio to listen to while you run. You know the kind.
    2183 days ago
  • HFAYE81
    My tactic is to give myself a goal, like a point on the run or time or 1 more lap/minute/whatever and if I reach that goal I can stop if I *really* hurt/am exhausted/feel awful. I find that if I push through the original doubt or whatever, by the time I get to the goal I can say, "okay, I can keep going, just til (new goal)". If I keep doing this I can usually not only keep myself from quitting early, but even sometimes do a little more than I planned.

    This is just when I want to stop though. The thing about being embarrassed or feeling self conscious is something I definitely struggle with. My only solution is to try and run somewhere that I will not be lapped emoticon
    2183 days ago
    First, you are a "real" runner. No matter how fast or slow you go, you get out there and do it! So yeah just put that in your mind right now lol!

    Second, there is not a running day that goes by that I don't have the urge to quit. My mom is always telling me how she wished she has my will power and honestly I'm too embarrassed to tell her that I have to talk myself through every single damn step. And alot of things go through my mind. Like my mind is a liar and a cheat and quite frankly would give up on this whole fitness endevour if it could. My body is what pushes me. Fortunately, my mind has to do what I say. So when I start wanting to give up, I tell myself I'm lying. That my body isn't tired, not even close. I think of the quotes I see on Pinterest. I think of how I'd feel if I stopped right now. I know it's easier said than done, but mind over manner. Just tell your stupid, idiotic brain to shut it for an hour (or however long) and let you do your thing. Good luck!
    2183 days ago
    When it comes to negative self-talk (and a voice telling you you CAN'T do something that you can, in fact, do, probably qualifies), you have to replace it with positive self-talk in order to prevail. Yes, this creates a Gollum like split in your head as the two voices duke it out. But the idea is that if you exercise the positive voice enough, it will start winning more and more often. Maybe you should begin the positive self-talk before you even get to the track: "Man, I'm so excited to run 3.25 miles. A few years ago, I couldn't run at all, now look at me. I may not be the fastest person on the track but I finish what I start. I'm persistent and tenacious, I really like that about myself! Can't wait to feel so great after completing this run." Sometimes, I even say that stuff OUT LOUD to myself, just to reinforce it. I think you can change this habit but it will definitely take some time and dedication. Fortunately, you have both! emoticon
    2183 days ago
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