May 14, 2020
As runners, many of us are Type-A personalities who strive for perfection in every area of our lives. Whether we seek to perform our best, eat as “clean” as possible, do all the “little things,” or never miss a day of our prescribed training plan, we sometimes take our perfectionism a step too far. Instead of focusing on unattainable flawlessness, runners (and all other perfection seekers) should aim to be better than before, but never perfect, as discussed below.
Often we build up certain ideals in our heads, such as “clean eating,” certain training plans, or weekly goals), and we turn these arbitrary objectives into end-all, be-all scenarios. One slip-up can cause emotional stress when we feel like failures for having chosen to enjoy a piece of cake on a friend’s birthday or because we were too tired to hold that final plank pose. Instead of continually searching for an “A+” in your health regime, concede to yourself that perfection is unattainable. As an alternative, strive to be better than you were before, whether that is eating one fewer serving of sugar than yesterday (as opposed to attempting to cut out sugar cold turkey), or performing one more core routine this month than previously.
Runners often avoid listening to their bodies in order to follow their set training plans. However, when you decide not to be “perfect” and to instead allow your body to dictate when to take days off or when to cut a workout short, your risk of injury is drastically reduced. At the end of the day, no one wins an award for showing up to the starting having completed all of the assigned workouts at the sake of his or her health.
When you give up the pursuit of perfection, you give up the unhappiness that comes with such an unattainable goal. Runners who seek perfection in their lives often associate their daily satisfaction with how well they were able to control factors that are typically difficult to control, or uncontrollable altogether. For instance, small deviations, such as having to take a day off from training due to excruciating shin pain, can lead to a ruined day because of the mental anguish associated with purposely avoiding exercise. By rationalizing that it’s better to be healthy than perfect, this self-imposed unhappiness disappears.
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