How to Run for Excellence Rather than Perfection

In a previous post I shared with you some things I have noticed perfectionism can do to harm your life.  Today I want to share with you how it could harm your running career.

#1 It will make you dread your workouts

Most runners’ hardest part of working out is actually getting out the door.  So with that in mind, it would be easy to note that if we dread it, we aren’t going to do it.  By thinking each workout has to be perfect our expectations will be too high in a way that will be almost impossible to complete.  You’ll be stuck thinking of how far you have left to go rather than being grateful with how far you’ve come.  With no motivation you may quit running altogether.

Just this morning I realized that I have been dreading my workouts to the point of quitting half-way through them or making excuses so as to avoid them altogether.  Thankfully, I have forced myself to complete my long runs needed for half-marathon training though.  Yet as I sit here editing this post I wrote a week ago I am convicted by this. 

My heart-rate has dramatically caused my originally easy pace to become moderate to the extent that I have to run a 13-14 minute pace in order to keep it easy.  Yikes!  As a runner who wants to be faster, that frustrates me.  Yes, my nutrition has played a huge roll in this, as well as the holiday stress, but in my mind a perfect workout was to decrease my pace not increase it, so that began frustrating me as well adding to an already elevated heart rate.  This morning I ended up quitting at mile 2 because I made myself so miserable with my perfectionist standards… and it wasn’t the first time.

#2 It will decrease your performance

As explained above, since a perfectionist is inclined to be stuck to the negative, you must remember that whatever your mind is focused on is magnified in your life.  You will end up pushing your body and mind in very unhealthy ways which will decrease your effectiveness and recovery.  You may also end up pushing harder than you should on easy days which will greatly decrease your effort on hard days when you should be pushing.  That was one of the last excuses I came up with this morning.  Since I could not easily keep my original easy pace of 11-12, I quit because I figured I could save my energy and use it tomorrow, when in reality I should have been okay with the slower pace and finished the miles I had set out to do.

#3 It will increase your risk of injuries

Stress tenses your muscles making them more susceptible to tearing, which in turn will cause injuries if not recovered properly.  Too much strain on muscles will cause them to inflame, leading you down a path that needs longer recovery as well.  In your mind a runner probably should push through pain right?  Wrong.  Discomfort is good, it means we are stretching our bodies to new horizons, then as we rest we grow stronger.  A perfectionist can easily run through pain because in their mind, they have to stick to their training plan no matter how they feel.  The schedule has to go perfectly, but in reality, pain leads to badly torn, inflamed, or strained muscles, causing you to lose training time which in turn, during recovery, you begin to lose fitness.

#4 It will drain your energy levels

Stress creates cortisol.  Cortisol is like a huge caffeine rush with a horrible crash.  Imagine running during that afternoon caffeine crash when you haven’t had your second cup yet.

So how do you know if you’re a perfectionist?

Are you workouts ever good enough?  Are you seeing progress in your fitness?  Does your training schedule have to be just so?  Are you inflexible?  Do you get injured a lot?  Do you feel stressed when you work-out?  If you answered yes to any of these it’s possible that you have too much perfectionistic thinking.

How do you get rid of a perfectionist mindset?

Start by giving God thanks after every workout for anything you can think of in regards to your training.  Learn to take each of your thoughts to God.  Tell Him how you want your work-out to go, but then listen to your body and choose to drop the expectations if need be.  Consider asking Him to run through you.

How do you run with excellence and what is it?

This, just like anything else in your life, will be different for each person.  God looks at the heart.  If you are doing it to bring Him glory then that is all that matters.  If you are doing it to make YOU look good, then I would suggest humbling yourself before He does.  Your heart needs to be in fellowship with God and if that means pushing yourself harder, then do it, but if that means slowing down, then slow down.  In order to become a better runner you need to put in the work, but your body is not a machine and will not work perfectly a day in your life.  Excellence on the other hand is being the best version of yourself you can be, allowing God to form you into the person He created you to be, doing your best and leaving the results up to God.

Closing Note

I do want to say in closing that we do need to have expectations, but we need to learn that it is okay to not have those expectations fulfilled.  You should plan out the perfect schedule, but be flexible in completing it.  God’s number one goal is to transform us into the image of His Son.  Jesus fulfilled prophecy after prophecy to the T, but that was because He was surrendered to His Father.  God is not opposed to giving you your desires of a day gone well.  So surrender to God, ask Him to change your perspective, and lead you in the paths He wants you to take.  And remember…

A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.

Proverbs 16:9

So as you work on those New Years Resolutions you have come up with or even been holding off, give youself a break and live a realistic life. You can do hard things, but it is only through the strength God gives. It takes time to change a habit, so be consistent and commit to your goals this year. Work on allowing God to transform you into the person you are meant to be and let go of the perfectionism that you have been holding onto for so long. Only Jesus was perfect, and only God can form you into the image of His Son.

I Love Ya’ll and can’t wait to share my exciting news with you soon! May you have a wonderful week. Until next time, Happy Running!

This is a single post in our series on Perfectionism. To read the others click on the links below. We will add the titles as they are created.

Post One: How Perfection Slowly Destroys Your Life and Those around You

Post Two: Was 2021 the Perfect Year?

Post Three: How to Run for Excellence Rather than Perfection

Post Four: Coming Soon…

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