This morning, I ran the Miami half marathon while my husband ran the full marathon. Why didn’t I run the full marathon? That is a loaded question.
A few months ago, my husband decided that he wanted to run a marathon. This was going to be his big goal of 2019. He started researching possible races and found out about the Miami marathon. He signed up. Then he encouraged me to sign up. I’ve been running for many years, in fact I ran the New York City Marathon about 15 years ago. “If he can do it, I should do it. If I don’t, what kind of runner am I?” These thoughts were running through my head. So I signed up, I created a training plan and starting running. Whenever my husband told anyone that we were both training for a marathon – they said we were crazy. There isn’t enough time in the day for 1 parent to train for a marathon let alone 2, they said.
This fall I had a lot on my plate: 3 kids, running a business, travelling for client work, my husband travelling for work, etc. etc…. The sport that had brought so much joy to my life for so many years started to feel like a chore. It came to the point that I was dreading the weekend because I didn’t want to run. The voice in my head said “push through, what kind of runner are you if you give up on this training. Your husband is doing it so you should be able to do it to. What kind of person signs up for a marathon and doesn’t run the marathon. If you quit it means you aren’t good enough.”
There was a day in December when I had a 28km run scheduled, there were birthday parties, hockey, and a business trip planned. The last thing I wanted to do was run for 3 hours.
That day I realized that the Miami marathon was not my goal. This goal belonged to my husband. My hyper achiever, inner critic had made me believe that it was my goal. My hyper achiever inner critic made me believe that if I didn’t have the same goal as my husband I wasn’t a good runner. My hyper achiever inner critic made me believe that if I didn’t run the full marathon there was no point in even going to Miami.
My favourite book on the topic of self sabotage is called Positive Intelligence by Shirzad Shamine. He even created an assessment so that you can start to recognize your own sabotaging thoughts. This voice in my head was taking away the joy I used to get out of running. This was the voice of my hyper achiever saboteur. Shirzad Chamine describes it as:
“Dependent on constant performance and achievement for self-respect and self-validation. Highly focused on external success. Life is about achieving and producing results. I must be best at what I do. If I can’t be outstanding, I won’t bother.”
Me signing up for that marathon was the textbook behaviour of a person listening to their hyper achiever. What happens when you let your sabotaging thoughts take over? It robs your life of joy. It’s that simple. The sport that had brought so much value to my life for so many years was now making me miserable.
On this day I made the decision to stop listening to my hyper achiever inner critic and I switched my registration to the half marathon instead.
What happened next? The next day, I started to like running again. In fact I looked forward to getting up early and running in the dark. I started to feel really proud of my husband, for setting such a big goal for himself and doing the work to make it happen. I started to feel excited about being there at the finish line cheering him on. I realized that setting big goals is a beautiful thing, but setting big goals is a very personal thing. Because achieving a big goal takes a lot of work. When you try to achieve a goal just because someone else is doing it, the hard work just isn’t worth it. So yes I’m in Miami today to support my husband to achieve his goal. And while I’m here I’m running a half marathon, because I love to run, and it brings joy to my life.
If you want to learn more about managing your inner critic, you can download my free workbook. I will walk you through some coaching exercises that will help you to design a strategy to overcome your self-sabotaging thoughts.