Why It’s Okay to Admit You Are Struggling

Mental Training

Awhile back, it came to my mind that there was a wonderful story I wrote about a few years ago about this very thing, not speaking up. Sometimes it’s hard to let go of your competitiveness when you are just trying to enjoy a run or to even make the most of your run by taking things too seriously. Well, here is that story and I hope you learn from my mistake just as I have. 🙂

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Listen to your body.

We hear it over and over again.

I tell it to you over and over again.

It sounds so simple.

What could be easier than taking the physical signs that your body gives out, and making a decision based on that feedback.

Pain=”Hello! That hurts, please stop”

Shivers= “Brr, that is cold, please add another layer”

Relaxing of muscles= “Ahhh that feels good, I can rest”

So why is it so freakin hard?

I preach to you over and over again about how you need to ditch the GPS watch, stop obsessing over your pace, and just listen to what your body is telling you.

I am good at that part, and I intend on teaching you how you can work on it too in the future, but as good as I am at that part, there are other parts of this where I really struggle.

One of those became evident last week.

For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you will have seen this image

For those of you who commented that day, or sent me a message, thank you, I truly read every single message, and it did make me feel so much better.

But for those of you who are not on Instagram, this is probably the first you are hearing of this, but I want to make this into a lesson for you on what I did wrong, and why I decided to share my true feelings to the world, when really, all I wanted to do was curl up in a corner.

A few weeks ago, I tied my RIGHT shoe up too tight, which gave me some pain where you tie a bow in the shoelaces.

I read up on the correct lacing technique (which I already did the lock loop lacing), and started to tie my shoes a little looser, while still keeping the lock loop.

Through ridiculous paranoia of it happening to the other foot, I started to tie the LEFT shoe looser.

And then last Wednesday, I had another of my Rocky style workouts where I run through the backwoods of Kentucky for a 5k, pretty much straight up.

About 10 minutes in, a dog comes charging out of a house, straight towards me.

Steve drives alongside me for this exact reason, and jumped out the car, and started to run towards the dog.

Of course, the dog was not interested in Steve, but more at the person trying to run away.

I stopped and froze, scared to move.

By this point, we realized the dog just wanted to play, and eventually I started to run again (after loosing my cool a little and yelling at the owner- not my proudest moment).

But once I got going again, I was trying to hold it together.

I was very flustered and was trying not to panic (which is not easy when you are wheezing trying to run uphills anyway).

My workout plan went out the window, and I started to attack the downhills as much as I was the uphills, I just wanted to get this over with (and I still had a 25 minute tempo after!!).

I finished the workout, but then noticed that the top of my LEFT foot felt sore later that day.

The next day, it was very apparent that it was angry.

When I went for my run, the pain started at a 1-2/10, but creeped up…..3…4…5…and eventually in the last mile a 6/10 pain.

We go by 4 and below is okay, 5 onwards, STOP….which I obviously did not do.

Steve and I were running close to home, and I told him how the pain was feeling as we were going. He asked me over and over again if I wanted to just go home, just stop and have a shorter run today.

But no, my ego got the better of me, and I listened to the part of me that said,

“No, you slacker, how are you going to get fit if you cut out half your run, don’t you dare be a quitter”

As much as I knew that voice was NOT the one I should be listening to, deep in my heart I knew I needed to stop, but I just couldn’t.

As I walked around that day, it was clear that I had made it worse, and I even limped a little to avoid using that tendon as I walked.

I still had an afternoon run to do, and again, even though I had the opportunity to be smart, I listened to the ego;

“Are you seriously going to miss your double today because your foot hurts a little, it’s fine, it’s just sore from tying your shoes too loose, do you want to get fit or not?!”

I ran another 4 miles, this time with the skip lacing to avoid the painful area. Notice below how it does not cross over for one of the loops, you skip a lace, so it is not pressing down on it.

The pain wasn’t more than a 3 during, but once I got home and took my foot out of the shoe, I was no longer limping because I was trying to avoid it, I was limping because the pain was to the point where I needed to.

We decided I would take the magic 3 days off running, let it heal, and get back to it.

One day one of the magic 3 days, I felt smug about my decision to be smart, but later that day, the ego got the better of me once again, and I jumped on the ElliptiGO for 90 minutes easy, without shoes.

It was a little sore that evening, but not as bad as the day before.

The next morning I had my workout with Drew, and although we were cautious, it felt fine, and I convinced Steve to let me do a short run.

What happened to the magic 3 days off?

My ego happened.

So I ran 5 miles, and it felt good!

A little sore after, but barely noticeable, and we decided that was a good enough sign that systems were GO.

I had missed a long run, but if I ran a normal run the next day, then I could do my long run the following, and be caught back up by the weekend.

Other than feeling like complete junk from the eccentric training I did with Drew the day before, my foot felt fine.

YES!

Phew, glad that is over with.

So, I started my 18 mile long run.

I felt great the first half, nothing was bothering me, felt strong, and was just enjoying being back out there.

But by mile 10, my foot was a little sore.

I was close to Drew’s gym, and thought about being smart, stopping right there, and asking Drew for a ride home.

You can guess what happened.

Past it I went, picking up the pace instead.

I think I knew, deep in my heart that my foot was not better, and this was the last I was going to be able to do for a while.

Harder I ran, and ended up averaging around 6:40ish for those last 8 miles, but it was clear by the end that my foot was angry.

It was sore the rest of the day, but I had Dr Mike work on it, and it felt better.

I held a small beacon of hope in my heart that it would be enough.

But after my strength training the next day, I knew, deep down, that it wasn’t better. I could feel it walking, and that smart voice inside pleaded not to go.

One mile into the run I told Steve it hurt. Only a 1-2/10, but I knew that it was only going to get worse.

But I couldn’t stop.

Steve and I ran in silence, me holding back the tears, everything inside begging me to listen, PLEASE STOP, YOU ARE MAKING IT WORSE.

Up the pain level crept.

I just didn’t have the courage to listen.

Until I told the one person in this world to leave me alone, to go away, and to stay away from me….and in not a very nice way might I add.

At 4.5 miles, I stopped, cried, and walked the 1.5 miles home, limping.

The whole walk back, scenarios ran through my mind.

“It’s a stress fracture, it’s a stress fracture. 6-8 weeks off, you idiot, why didn’t you just listen?”

We are so cruel to ourselves sometimes, and my inner demon was out in full force on that walk.

Yet at the same time, I wanted someone to blame.

I thought of all the reasons it was Steves fault.

I felt angry at Steve for leaving me, even though I screamed at him and told him to.

Most of all, I felt angry at myself.

If I would have just listened and taken the three days off, that probably would have been enough to heal it, but now I am taking a week off instead.

Three days is NOTHING, but taking a few days off here, a few days off there, that is where your fitness really starts to go down the pan.

After sulking for a while, I eventually let Steve in the room I had locked myself in, and he said all the right things as tears streamed down my face.

Steve then had to go to work, his team had a meet to go to that day, and for the rest of the day, I threw myself the biggest pity party.

And for what, for a little pain in my foot?

Running does mean a lot to us, but for me, that injury was more the manifestation of the lack of control I feel in my life right now in other areas.

Of course I want to run, and of course it bothers me, I wouldn’t have tried to run through it otherwise.

However, at that moment, in that day, I felt sad and alone.

In a moment of courage, I thought I would share that sadness with the world.

Maybe someone else out there was having a bad day, and when you know that you are not the only one feeling this way, it gives you comfort, and you feel better.

Maybe it was ego driven, maybe I wanted all the pity, but I like to think it is because I wanted to show that life isn’t perfect.

That we all have down moments, tantrums, and overreact over the littlest of things.

I probably won’t remember this week when I am 80 years old, but on that day, it felt like everything was wrong, and nothing was right.

But why do we have to hide it?

Why do we have to feel like we need to paint this perfect image to the rest of the world. That we are so happy, and that everything in our lives is great.

Well, to have those great moments, to appreciate those great moments, you need to have some downs.

Otherwise nothing would be great or amazing or happy, because it would just be normal, you would become so used to it, that you wouldn’t be able to celebrate when it did happen.

Now, I am an optimist, I do try to look at the good in every person I meet. I do try to look for the silver lining in everything.

But I just wanted to say that it is okay to feel sad and down sometimes, and there is nothing wrong with admitting that you are in one of those moments.

Maybe you will get lots of kind words, and thoughtful messages from those who love you and watch from afar.

Maybe that in itself will give you peace and remind you that you are loved.

But sometimes, it just feels good to say I AM NOT PERFECT AND THAT IS OKAY!

There is so much pressure for us to be happy all the time, to be manicured, and strong all the time.

But when you break down, when you have those moments where you just feel sad, you are going to build that part of you back up, stronger this time, smarter this time, and happier this time as you appreciate what you went through.

Okay, so this post was one giant ramble, but maybe, just maybe, it will help someone out there to know that you are not alone, and whatever it is you are feeling, that is okay, as I feel it too.

Oh, and before I go, I just want to take a moment to thank Dr Pribut (Cotton Candy), who has been AMAZING for me with this situation. He facetimed me (tear streaked and all), and has been the angel on my shoulder, especially now that the pain is gone and I want to get back to it. If you are in the DC area, I am really jealous of you for having access to his office!

Do you struggle with admitting you are having a hard time?

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16 Comments. Leave new

  • I’ve been injured before and the first few days are always the hardest. Taking one day off seems like the end of the world but if you are already taking multiple, it’s not as bad. I’m sorry you’re dealing with that Tina. I’m thinking of you.

  • First I just want to say I love you. Second, I struggle with this all.the.time and I am not an elite athlete. You are just so very HUMAN Tina so I hope you’re not beating yourself up too much. This stiff happens and then you move past it. I love that you shared it (because SO many of us can relate) and hopefully it’s now out of your system and you can move forward. xo

  • Oh Tina. Your Insta post the other day had me so worried. It’s hard to brush the ego aside. I think it’s even harder for you since your running is your livelihood. I know I’ve brushed away those feelings before and ended up worse off. Thank you for sharing this because you are definitely NOT alone. xoxo

  • I knew exactly what you were feeling!! But I’m curious – do you recommend that lacing that you pictured?
    I have pain sometimes at the top of my arch/foot too.

  • I’ll pray there’s no stress fracture, but that the whole lesson was learned for you with only the pain that you’ve already endured. Thank you for the refreshingly honest post, like you do so well, and more reminders to be human and embrace it all. The joys and the struggles. Dang it though, why don’t our bodies just agree with our hearts when we just want to run? 🙂

  • Hey, Tina! Oh injuries… we’ve all been there at one point or another :/. It’s easy to let a day without running feel like a wasted day, especially if you’re lonely or bored. But, truly, the time off for your body to heal IS a form of actively improving yourself, just in a different way than training would be (but no less important!). It fosters patience, perspective, and self-awareness if you let it! You’ll come back physically and mentally stronger than before. I’ve always done a lot of reading and drawing during my injured days–seems to help the time pass enjoyably and productively. Thanks for the honesty! All the best.

  • Sarah M (A Modern Shore Life)
    January 23, 2017 1:57 pm

    My husband had pain in his foot that he ignored during PT for the army, ran on it for so long then finally found out it was fractured in parts. He was so stubborn and wouldn’t go to the higher ups about his problem for way too long.

    Anyways, I really feel you with this post. I’m a lifter, not a runner, but so much of it is mental and sometimes you just have REALLY bad days.

  • Oh man, I think we can all relate to this! We all have that gut feeling that we probably need to back off sometimes but it is so hard- like you said, the ego is convinced that you will be fine, and that you can’t possibly miss a workout. Hopefully you still caught it early enough to avoid too much time off!

  • Dancingrunner
    January 23, 2017 2:41 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. It is so helpful to see that elites have the same struggles. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this is all behind you!

  • Lisa Hainstock
    January 23, 2017 4:18 pm

    First time posting, but I love your blog. I am also dealing with an injury. I very rarely get injured. This is hard! My husband gave me the best advice– “Play the long game.” These days (or even weeks) off are so important if you want to crush it long term. Every day you run through pain only extends that healing period. I know you know that, but I have told myself that every day for the past two weeks.

    Hang in there!

  • I finished 2015 with a stress fracture in my foot and I was UNBEARABLE! Being injured is no fun as all we want to do is run and it’s the one thing we can’t do. I don’t run at the same level as you, but whether elite athlete or recreational runner I think the feelings are the same when we lose that part of ourselves, even for a short time. Listen to your body now, heal and come back stronger. I’m thinking of you x

  • Thank you for sharing…I’m injured right now, and not running while trying to train for my first marathon is making me so sad! This made me feel better. <3

  • Foot pain is just the worst! I felt the same way when I sprained my foot…so frustrated at the situation and then at myself for not resting when it first hurt. So many of us can relate to this, so thank you for honestly sharing. I hope you feel better!

  • Eimear Rose Nicholl
    January 26, 2017 2:06 am

    Hey Tina, I read and commented on the Instagram post. I just want to say thanks again for sharing; I’m sorry you had such a crap week but it’s great to hear other people talk about the same struggles so many of us go through. I have definitely been in that situation where pain is increasing gradually and with the mix of the endorphins and the argument between the stick it out ego and ms sensible, it can be so hard to work out what to do! Having made the wrong call more often than the right one myself, I’m trying to stick to a rule of crosstrain or treadmill (so that I can cut a workout short more easily) if I’m even AWARE of anything off kilter. We runners have such euphemistic expressions for pain- tight, niggle, stiff. It’s so hard to tell yourself the truth!!

  • I have a hard time not pushing through pain too. Hoping 2017 is a healthy year all around!

  • I’m a bit surprised you have problems with tying shoelaces. Have you fixed the problem or maybe it’s the shoe ?

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