Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Athletic Women are Awesome

Women who train hard and achieve epic results amaze me. And it's not because they're "as tough as guys." Often they're way tougher. It's because women have to deal with a lot more bull$hit when it comes to working out, and they just f@#king do it anyway.

The Rio Olympics are a great example. Many of the women who won medals, broke world records, and performed just plain awesomely were body-shamed, belittled, insulted, and had just a massive heap of sexist trash thrown at them. I have more trouble keeping my balance when walking than Simone Biles does when she's flipping on a beam that's less than 4 inches wide. Katie Ledecky swims faster than a shark on a jetski. And yet they can't get the same respect as the male athletes.

There are too many examples for me to list. Here's an article that does a great job of it: http://fusion.net/story/338501/sexism-olympics-rio-simone-biles/

My friends Meghan and Geoffrey just completed the Timberman 70.3 Ironman. Meghan wrote an excellent report of her epic adventure. Prior to this summer she had very little experience bicycling or swimming. She was a runner. But she trained her ass off with long brutal workouts and did amazingly well at the event. I've had the great fortune to see her train sometimes, and her level of commitment always amazed me. No level of pain or exhaustion would ever slow her.

Geoffrey and Meghan getting ready to CONQUER.

My Archnemesis, Lesley, signed up to do a 100 mile bike ride with me at the last minute. She's doing another 100 mile bike ride for charity in 3 weeks. We both did the Cayuga Lake Triathlon last month. And while I was whining about how slow I was, she got third overall female. Third! Any time I run with her I sound like I'm having an asthma attack while she's chatting breezily. She's just a better athlete.

I feel like a lazy bum compared to these ladies. I'm honestly not sure I could push myself as hard as them. For a lot of guys, their kneejerk reaction is to disrespect a woman who pushes herself this hard. They make comments about how she looks, about what she should be doing instead (shopping, getting manicures, delousing her kids), or just suggesting that she's unfeminine or broken somehow. It's all about their fragile egos. Those guys know they're not 10% as "manly" as these badass women. But me, I see what women like Meghan and Lesley do and it inspires and motivates me to push myself harder. Not to be better than them, but to try to be as good as them, if that's even possible.
Simone Biles

I've trained karate for over 20 years. Martial arts is totally accepted for guys to do. You look at a guy punching and kicking and say, "of course." It's different when it comes to women, and often they're not considered to be as tough as the guys. But I've been to countless karate tournaments, and let me tell you: The women are insane. The guys beat on each other sure, but then they hug it out. But when the women spar, they have the look of death. I've often joked (but not really) that I'm lucky I don't have to fight against them. They're brutal! And their kata (forms) are freakin' perfect. I look like an orangutan with a broken leg compared to them.

I believe they push themselves harder because they feel they have something to prove. They shouldn't have to, but they do. In a sport dominated by dudes, they feel that they have to go the extra mile to earn respect. Anybody who comes to my class earns my respect just by showing up and training every week. I don't treat the ladies any differently. Nonetheless they amaze me with their tenacity, and they often train harder and perform better than the guys. Men may have the genetic advantage on muscle, but definitely not on sheer will.

Katie Ledecky

The sexist idiocy makes sense to an extent. Our forefathers dragged women back to our caves where they expected them to tend to the kids and pet mammoth. And our brains haven't changed at all since then. But those same forefathers also learned how to turn twigs into rocket ships (well, not immediately). So clearly we have the capacity to think, and to override our base emotions. Building a rocket ship is not consistent with sitting around and doing nothing, which I definitely prefer.

So when a guy derides an epic woman, it may be a natural reaction. But it also means that guy hasn't spent the two seconds to think, "maybe I shouldn't be a douchebag." And that's a choice. Every one of us has infinite opportunities to sit and think. To evaluate those monkey impulses and decide if they're really worth holding on to. Do I really need to eat all of this chocolate cake? Don't answer that.

And a lot of the guys who choose not to respect women.... a lot of them also choose not to push themselves hard, whether it's athletically or in some other meaningful way. They see a powerful woman who's achieved success through crazy hard work, and it punches them directly in their dangling sack of ego. Rather than learning the lesson that they too can push themselves to achieve success, they instead attack, like an ape flinging poop to protect its banana.

Or in my case to protect my ice cream.

Every time I see a woman conquer a seemingly insurmountable challenge - Meghan, Lesley, Katinka Hosszú - It makes me want to push myself harder. Of course, the same is true when I see a guy like Geoffrey do something amazing as well. But guys already get plenty of respect. It saddens me how many people don't strive to make themselves better individuals, and I don't mean just physically. There's a lot of pettiness and savagery out there, and it comes from people who've never made the effort to rise above it.

Personally, I want to become as good of a person as I can, and I truly appreciate others who do as well. I fail a lot, but every time I see someone who succeeds against difficult odds - and in the case of women, in a difficult environment - it makes me believe that I too can succeed.

Me standing next to some ladies who
are way more awesome than me.

Photo credits:
1 - By Minerva97 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
2 - Unknown
3 - By Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil [CC BY 3.0 br (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/br/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons
4 - By Agência Brasil [CC BY 3.0 br (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/br/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons
5 - Me
6 - Person in parking lot?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Even Heroes Suffer

I've written before about depression and suffering. And I've written about addiction and why I quit drinking. Some folks are born happy and obscenely full of joy. They read this and think, "just squeeze a puppy and cheer up!" Most mortals can relate to unabatable anguish though. It's tempting to think that rich, famous, or very successful people are immune to unhappiness or pain.

They are not.

I'm a little slow on the draw with the Rio Olympics. But I read a recent article about Michael Phelps and how he recovered from hitting bottom to go back to winning, just, all of the gold medals. To many people this is gossip - tabloid material. Not to me.

I'm not an elite athlete, not even close. But I train a lot. I've run 54 miles in the past 4 days, and I'm pretty sure I'll hit 90 miles in 7 days by Saturday. That's going to be a record for me, and it's a huge amount of volume. A big reason I push myself this hard is to deal with the fact that sometimes I just don't like myself.

Nobody could push themselves as hard as this guy!

I wanted to pretty up those words somehow, but screw it. I often feel like a failure at life. So I exercise, partly to make myself a better person, and partly to punish myself for sucking so much. It works though. I feel better after a hard workout. And I feel proud of myself when I succeed. Exercise is one of the few things that can make me feel that way. Thankfully it's something I can do whenever I want (until I break myself).

I used to drown my bitterness in alcohol. A lot of people do that. It's not a coincidence that so many celebrities get into rehab all the time. I'm not saying that every successful person works hard and parties hard because they hate themselves. But quite a few.... do. Nobody in this country wants to talk about mental torment. They dismiss it as something that doesn't effect them.

It does.

A guy can come home from work and drink 20 beers and a bottle of whisky and nobody cares because he's not famous. A woman can go knock herself out on drugs for three days and nobody cares because she's not famous. A person can push themselves so hard that they end up in the hospital and nobody cares because they're not famous. It's easy to ignore these instances. "Oh Bob. Yeah, hahaha. Whoops! Silly guy. Anyway, wanna get margaritas?"

It's something I take seriously though. I've seen many friends suffer. And it's not because they're bad people. It's not because they can't handle their $hit. It's not because they're lazy, or stupid, or just somehow lesser. It's because they're human. And when I read the article above about Michael Phelps, it inspired me.

Inspires... and not just for this.

It made me realize that everyone suffers. EVERYONE. But that you can learn from it, fight it, and beat it. That you can persevere, work really hard, and succeed.  Anyone can fight, and anyone can win. Champions and the common man alike.

I'm not a swimmer. In fact, I'm a terrible swimmer. It's a marvel that I can even stay afloat long enough to complete the swim in a triathlon. I'm definitely jealous that Phelps seems to be crossbred with a marlin. But what he went through - and likely still goes through - binds us as humans.

We all fight the same demons.

There's a lot of "us versus them" attitudes suffusing our society right now. The 99% versus the 1%. People of a certain skin color, religion, or political persuasion versus those who are different. Regular folks versus law enforcement. And it's all trash. Just convenient scapegoats to deal with our own pain and failure. And I didn't mean to insinuate that I'm taking sides on any of the examples above.

But I hate to see so much anger and violence. So much of it. Everywhere. But I get it. Because I commit violence too. Except in my case I do it to myself. I turn it inward. I cause myself a lot of pain. But that pain teaches me. It makes me very aware not only of my own feelings and hardships. It teaches me to empathize and appreciate it in others.

I wish we had more of that: Empathy. Because if we accept the reality of our shared battles, we can help each other. But when someone sweeps suffering and depression under the rug, they hurt themselves and they hurt others. They refuse to see it in themselves and to learn and to grow. And they look down on others who struggle.

When they see a famous person who falls off the wagon, I wish instead of saying, "there goes another celebrity," they'd say, "I know what they're going through."

Because I do, and it sucks. But through hard work, deep introspection, empathy, and a willingness to share in the common human experience and to help one another through it, we could all become much happier.

In the meantime, I'll just stick to eating ice cream. Because that makes me super happy.

Image credits:
  •  Hercules fight with the Nemean lion, Pieter Paul Rubens.
  •  By Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil - http://agenciabrasil.ebc.com.br/rio-2016/foto/2016-08/michael-phelps-conquista-20a-medalha-de-ouro-e-e-ovacionado, CC BY 3.0 br, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50588731
  • By Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil - http://agenciabrasil.ebc.com.br/rio-2016/foto/2016-08/michael-phelps-conquista-20a-medalha-de-ouro-e-e-ovacionado, CC BY 3.0 br, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50588749

Friday, August 12, 2016

Let's All Laugh at the Worst Race of my Life

Yesterday I ran the Tromptown half marathon. It was the worst race I've run in my life. It was worse than Hyannis, where the winter wind was blowing so hard off the ocean that it tossed frozen sharks into my face. It was worse than last year's Catharine Valley, where I ran like an idiot and then the sun came out and roasted me to a cinder. It was worse than Run for the Red marathon, which completely ruined my body.

It was horribly, irredeemably bad.

Just a couple days ago I posted about dealing with failures and disappointments. It was actually pretty good; check it out. But after writing that, I would feel like a huge hypocrite if I didn't try to learn from my own lesson after yesterday's bad bad bad race.

There was absolutely nothing about the race that was not the pinnacle of awful. There's no way I can spin it positively. I did get to spend the day with a bunch of amazing and lovely people. But the actual race itself was like being shrunk down and then running around in a frying pan for 2 hours while being smashed repeatedly by a spatula.

So I've only got one option left: Humor! I'm going to break the race down mile by mile, every square inch of its horribleness, and we're going to have a good laugh over it. Hooray!

Initial Arrival - Bib: Check. Kilt: Check. Copious selfies: Double check! Bathroom: Quintuple check.
The temperature was about 83 degrees. The dew point was about 73, which Wikipedia tells me is extremely humid. I just looked that up now. Until yesterday, I'd never bothered looking up the humidity before a race. That is now a new thing I will always do before a race. Pace: Loitering.

Two mile warmup - Because running 13 miles isn't enough, I decide to round it up to an even 15. I feel fresh! I feel bouncy! My legs actually feel good for a change. I'm utterly drenched in sweat after 15 minutes. But that's fine, right? Totally fine. This race is gonna rock! Pace: 8:37.

Prerace - I drink about a gallon of water from the fountain. It's totally not going to just sit in my stomach and cause cramps for the whole race. I'm sure my body will efficiently absorb it and distribute it where it needs it most. My body is smart! Pace: Drowning.

Starting line - My stomach is a fish tank. But there's a bunch of people rearing to go and I'm feeling jived! The race announcer has to make a few attempts but finally succeeds at blowing on his whistle. Maybe it got waterlogged. We go! Pace: Wiggling excitedly.

Mile 1 - I always start races way too fast. Not today! A bunch of folks sprint ahead of me. Enjoy gassing out suckers! I run breezily, content in my smugness. 1 mile down, only 12 to go! I can do 12 in my sleep! Pace: 6:56.

Mile 2 - Heat? Humidity? Ha! I can't believe I was worried. I'm an antelope, bounding joyfully in the sun. I pour water on my head at the first water table. I feel like I could run to Neptune right now! There's a hill at the end of this mile. Resist the urge to sprint up it! I mostly resist. Pace: 7:02.

Mile 3 - Ooooh right. This course is hilly. No problem. I'll try my best to maintain my pace. I have big hill-smashing leg muscles anyway. They only look skinny in photos because of... angles? Angles are for nerds. I sure am sweating a lot. Why are my abs cramping? Stop being weird, body. I pass many of the sprint-starters and feel like a kilted rockstar. Pace: 7:21.

Mile 4 - Nice gentle downhill. Get back to my goal pace without running too fast. Man, I'm awesome! More water on my head. This is going to be my best race ever. Phew, it sure is hot and moist. A lot of people don't like that word for some reason. Moist. Actually, it's the sound my sopping kilt is making, "moist moist moist". This thing weighs ten pounds. Minor details. Pace: 7:06.

Mile 5 - Aallllright, it's starting to get a bit hilly. Let my pace drop a bit. I'm being smart, galdarnit. The lake sure is pretty though. I fantasize about jumping into it. C'mon, it's not that hot. I'm almost done anyway. Just run around the lake and to the finish. It's... like... the home stretch! Life is just fine. Pace: 7:25.

Mile 6 - OK, maybe I was a bit too optimistic. I'm not going to get a PR today. But if I can maintain this pace, I should at least match last year's time. I'm totally an adult, setting realistic goals and stuff! There's no way I won't succeed with a realistic goal. That's why it's called realistic. Sweet. More water on head. Would prefer to be in the lake right now. Pace: 7:33.

Mile 7 - Woohoo, I'm around the bend of the lake! I'm halfway done! I've slown down a bit, but that's because of all the hills along this side of the lake. I'm just going to run easy for a little and regain my strength for a final push. There's no way this agonizing pain in my legs will last forever. Even though this course is uphill 90% of the way, I'm going to pretend it's downhill from here-on-out. I'm sure that won't lead to disaster. Pace: 7:57.

Mile 8 - The world is a boiling pot of anguish. How did I not see this before? I'm definitely not recovering. How is it possible that I keep running slower and yet keep feeling worse? Body, deliver energy to my legs, not my brain! I don't need to think, just run! Urp, suddenly light-headed. I was just kidding! Why is there a gallon of water in my stomach and why is it doing nothing? Pace: 8:29.

Just... ugh.

Mile 9 - Adorable happy children keep handing me water and I keep throwing it in my face. I feel simultaneously frozen and cooked-alive. My body doesn't even know what's going on. My legs are red hot pokers of pain. My head is swimming. My core has been cramped for an hour. Our chief running stud on LUNAR is having brain surgery for the third time next week, and here I am complaining that I'm about to pass out. I'm going to finish if it literally kills me. Pace: 8:43.

Mile 10 - A really cheerful lady on a bicycle is riding along side of me, talking my ear off. I appreciate her trying to lighten my mood, but I wish she was a million miles away. I feel like a douchebag. My body feels likes a douchebag too. Just a big douchy bag of fiery suffering. It's as if my guardian angel has decided to punish me for all of the ills I have ever committed all at once. I've been on this hill for what feels like a lifetime. My legs are a cataclysm. I wish my body would just explode right now for no reason. Pace: 8:54.

Mile 11 - I can't tell the difference between uphill and downhill anymore. I feel like I've been hyperventilating for half an hour. Every gasp my lungs suck in hot soup. My pace is humiliatingly slow. All those "suckers" who were ahead in the beginning are all passing me again. They all say encouraging things like, "you're almost there!" and "you're probably not going to die!" Lies, all lies. This mile ends in the worst hill of the race. Pace: 9:09.

Mile 12 - For the first time in at least 4 years, I walk. I am utterly defeated. I never knew walking was this hard. A guy who I was neck-and-neck with last year and beat by 3 seconds passes me looking happy and leisurely. I tell him that next year will be the tie-breaker, although inside I'm thinking, "I will never run this course again." Some part of me realizes that I don't have far to go. That part is drowned out by the part that says, "you will most definitely die a slow and horrible death in the next five minutes." Pace: 9:48.

Mile 13 - I can't believe I just ran an almost 10 minute mile in a race. I have zero cares anymore. Every inch of my body just wants to vomit hot lava. There is a sulfurous lake in my stomach sloshing around. Someone has taped a bunch of angry porcupines to my legs. The sun has drifted over to the earth and is now one inch away from my face. I am only two blocks from the finish, but they are the worst two blocks I've run in my life. They stretch endlessly into an abyss of broiling torment. I finally see the finish, and seriously consider just walking to it to make it as anti-climactic as possible. Pace: 9:19.

Mile 13.1 - Some dude zooms past me at warp speed and I instantly speed up and stay even with him. We cross the finish line at the exact same time. He doesn't have a bib on due to a convoluted story that my brain has since destroyed so it doesn't even matter. I have never felt so awful in my whole life. Standing, sitting, and lying down all feel equally horrible. Pace: 7:24.

Post race - I eat as much watermelon and drink as much water as I can physically hold. There is a haze of hot searing pain clinging to my flesh like a foggy mirage. I am angry, despondent, and just plain $hitty. I hate myself and actively avoid humans. The general positivity and cheer at the finish makes me want to bash my head into the pavement. But that would require too much movement. Pace: Deceased.

Fra Angelico - The Last Judgment

The rest of the night was an amazing festival of zealous gluttony. I ate buckets and buckets of delicious starchy fried foods. I drank several bath tubs of fluid. Yet, somehow, I still woke up this morning 5 pounds underweight. On the plus side, I'm still mostly alive.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

7 Ways to Deal with Disappointment

On Sunday I did the Cayuga Lake intermediate triathlon. It started with a 1.5km swim, continued with a hilly 24.3 mile bike ride, and finished with a 10k run around Taughannock Park and Falls. For any serious triathlete, this isn't a big deal. But I've only just barely started swimming and biking.

I was brutally disappointed with myself Sunday.

I got over it though, and even felt good about myself and what I'd achieved. I fail a LOT, and it's important for me to be able to cope with failure and to stay positive and motivated. That's what this post is about.

Simply defined, disappointment happens when you create an expectation for yourself and then fail to meet it. It would seem that the easiest solution is to simply not have expectations. This works sometimes. If you ask your boss for a raise, you don't necessarily expect her to say yes, but it's nice if she does!

However, when it comes to training and racing, expectations are closely related to goals. And you definitely want to have goals. Goals are what push you to train longer and harder. If you don't have a purpose for your training - some event you want to crush - then you would have no reason to train hard. Except to eat more ice cream.

Not a picture of ice cream. ZING!

If you set a goal for yourself, train your butt off for it, show up at the starting line, and then don't do as well as you'd planned, you're going to be disappointed. So how do you deal with it?

POW, list.

Identify where you did succeed.

It's easy to focus on just the finishing time of a race. But there are a lot of places along the way where you can identify where you did well. Even just showing up on the starting line is amazing! It's more than most folks would ever dare do.

My swim on Sunday was obscenely slow. I was certain I was dead last in the swim, but out of the 233 folks who did the 1.5k swim, 3 were slower! Hooray! But more importantly I swam almost a mile without stopping and despite cramping several times. That may not sound like much, but I've only been swimming for a couple months (not counting splashing around in my youth)!

The case is similar with the bike. My pace was about in the middle, but I've only had Tsar Bicycle the Great for a couple months. Apparently it takes years to get good at the bike. So every ride is only helping build strength!

Building strength... Slowly building strength.

But my best portion was the run.
Out of the 212 folks who did the Intermediate tri, my run was the 15th fastest! That's pretty darn good. And that was after swimming and biking for almost 2.5 hours.

This was my first ever intermediate (or olympic) tri. And when I think about it, it's pretty impressive that I signed up for it, and completed it, with so little swim and bike training. When I break down my individual successes, I feel much better about the race. I know where my weak points are, and I'll be better prepared for my next triathlon (after sufficient training).

Learn from your mistakes.

Don't just think "I suck" and spend all day sulking.
Look at exactly where you fell short. Every failure is an opportunity to grow! And it's not really a failure so much as not having performed exactly to the level you had hoped.

Regarding swimming and biking, I know that it's just a matter of training. A lot. I had hoped, foolishly, that my strength and endurance would translate directly to those events. But that's not how it works. I'm pretty much starting over from scratch, and I just have to accept that and work hard at those events where I'm weak.

In general, there's plenty of things to learn from.
Did you eat and rest sufficiently before the race? Did you set your pace early on and stick to it? Did you deal with the hills and terrain correctly? How was your mood? The way you feel during a race is important. If you start thinking, "I'm doing lousy", it's going to slow you down the rest of the time.

If you don't analyze your performance, you're missing out on a great opportunity to learn and to grow. It may be hard to revisit a painful experience, but it's one of your best tools. Failure is only a stepping stone to future success!

Set realistic goals.

It's great to aim high. But if your best 5K time is half an hour, you're not going to run your next one in 20 minutes. One of my goals is to run a half marathon in under 1:30. My current PR is 1:31:31, so this is doable. If I run my next half marathon in 1:31:00, I'd still be happy though, because that would still be a PR! Of course, if the weather is brutal, I might have to accept 1:35. That's just how it goes!

"I'm going to run a 4 hour marathon!"

My biggest goal this year though is to qualify for Boston Marathon. I'm hoping to do this at Lehigh Valley in September. I need to run about a 3:07. 3:10 is the official qualifying time, but I need a few extra minutes to be guaranteed to get in.
My current PR is 3:14:33, but that ended up being a much more difficult course than I anticipated, and I made some mistakes as well (which I learned from!).

Moment of honesty... If I don't qualify this year, I'm going to be pretty disappointed. Maybe I'll have to go back and read this post. Or maybe I'll just have to drown myself in ice cream.

Regarding the triathlon, I wasn't expecting to finish it very quickly. I knew the swim in particular would be very slow. My run though was faster than I expected! Sure I can normally average 7 minutes or under in a normal flat 10K
. But I wasn't expecting to average 7:20 on a fairly technical course after a tough swim and 24 very hilly miles on the bike. You win some, you lose some.

Practice being positive.

If you beat yourself up over a disappointing performance, what you're doing is reinforcing negativity. And it will only get worse over time. It becomes really easy to get mired in negative self talk or even depression. It becomes a habit that's hard to break free from.

"We're practicing positivity."

All the self-help advice and "tips and tricks" won't do you a bit of good if you've spent months - or years - practicing at feeling $hitty. Instead, you have to cut that thinking off as soon as you recognize it and reframe it positively. That's what this post is largely about: How to reframe a failure as a success - an opportunity to learn and grow.

Often times during a race where I'm doing badly I'll "decide" to just be awful the rest of the day. It's bizarre, I know, but I actually make the decision to just be angsty and pissed off. But after a couple more miles, I say to myself, "screw you, you whiny bastard. You're going to be cheerful, and you're going to high-five all your friends." And I do!

I was really unhappy with myself after the tri. I knew I wasn't quite ready to overcome that feeling, so I decided to just not talk about it for a while. I tried to be pleasant with my friends later on, although they could tell I was sort of faking it.
After several more hours and a good day spent adventuring with people I love, I felt much better. I apologized to my friends from earlier and was able to overcome my disappointment.

Talk about it!

This was critical for me after the triathlon, and after most of my other letdowns. Once my mood had recovered, I wrote about the experience on LUNAR: The good and the bad.

What do you know? I got nothing but compliments and support
for my achievement. Nobody said, "wow, you really did suck." And the process of writing about the triathlon helped me see where I did do well, and where I have room to grow. I write this blog for a similar reason. It's a form of catharsis: Letting out the bad stuff, and embracing the good stuff.
Friends and family make sucking OK.

It's very
difficult to let go of negativity if you keep it bottled up. This isn't just for athletic events. It applies to anything that happens in life. If you're feeling down on yourself, talk to your friends. As a male, this can be tough for me. We guys tend to want to portray ourselves as pillars of strength, and it's hard for us to talk about our failings. But if you don't, it just builds up and builds up. And it gets awful.

I've made a lot of mistakes and failed a lot in life. The older I get, the more willing I am to talk about it, either with the people in life, or online and here on my blog. Not only does it help me overcome my feelings of inadequacy, but it helps others see that they are not alone in their own insecurities. When you share, everyone benefits.

Reward yourself!

I'm not talking about slamming ten beers to drown your sorrows. I used to do that and...

Actually it was pretty awesome.

Preeeeeetty awesome.

But I don't drink anymore, so that's not an option. I'm getting derailed here. What was I talking about? Oh right. Once you've identified where you succeeded and reframed things positively, reward yourself!

BUT, before you can do that, you have to have a reason for the reward, whether it's pizza, ice cream, or wine. Don't allow yourself to gorge on junk food to deal with a lousy mood. Instead, make yourself feel good about what you achieved first, and then treat yourself. Recognize that the prize is for your hard work. The point is that you should reinforce positivity. Treats work just as well on us humans as they do on puppies!

"How about you give me a treat first,
and then I'll do something to earn it!"

Accept who you are and feel proud of that!

Not all of us are built to be elite runners. I will never run a marathon in two and a half hours, or even close to that.
There are some folks whose best time might be four hours. And that's totally OK! If you run your first marathon in 6 hours (my first one took almost that long) and then work your way down to five hours, or even four hours, that's awesome!

Likewise I will never be an elite powerlifter or bodybuilder. But I still love how I look with my shirt off. I will never crush an Ironman, but I will feel amazed with myself if (when!) I finally complete one.

Not a bodybuilder. I just fake it.

You are not competing with anyone else. I've definitely been guilty of comparing myself to others and beating myself up for not working as hard as they do
, but this is stupid. It accomplishes nothing. My goals are different. My routine is different. And as a human, I'm just built different than any other human. The only thing I can really do is take who I already am, and make that person slightly better via hard work and determination.

That's all anyone can do. If you normally work out five hours a week, and the next week you work out for 6, be proud of that! If you shave just 5 seconds of your previous PR, that's amazing! If you look in the mirror and you feel just a little bit more pleased with how you look, awesome!

Don't look for reasons to be angry or upset at yourself. Look for reasons to be happy and proud of yourself. It really does come down to an arbitrary choice. You're making the arbitrary choice to work your a$$ off to accomplish a goal most people wouldn't even dream of. You should make the arbitrary choice to be freakin' blown away by yourself.

Heck yeah! You rock!

Failure happens. You will fail. The more you strive to succeed, the more failures you will encounter along the way. If you never fail, it's because you're not trying hard enough. Encountering a lot of failure along the way is a sort of success in its own right. It means you're working harder and pushing yourself more than just about anyone else.

Some people never know the disappointment of failure. It's not because they always succeed.

It's because they don't try.

Try. Fail. Try. Fail. Try. Fail. Try. Fail. Try...

Credit: Unknown.