If you look at people who are successful in almost any field, you’ll find a belief that they all share.
I learned it from Tony Robbins (you watched his show on Tuesday, right?), and it has made a major difference not just in my running, but in my life.
Last summer when I was training to qualify for Boston, I noticed something about my thinking that was holding me back. If I had a good run, I’d tell myself, “I’m really running well; I must be getting stronger.”
But if during a run I noticed I wasn’t hitting my paces, I’d find something external to blame it on. It was the heat, it was the hills, it was that I hadn’t fully recovered from the last workout. If it helped me feel better about myself and my chance of qualifying, anything would do.
In the moment, that felt good. But if I’d kept on thinking like that, I’m sure I never would have qualified.
The belief that made all the difference
The belief that, once adopted, destroyed that type of thinking, was this one:
Whatever happens, I am responsible.
It doesn’t mean you have to beat yourself up over anything that goes wrong. It means when something isn’t good enough, it’s up to you to change it.
And only you.
When you adopt this belief, and I mean really, truly accept it as fact, you begin to see through all the excuses you’ve been employing to keep yourself from feeling any pain. And once you can do that, change is inevitable.
How I (briefly) forgot this
I haven’t written much about running in the past month, mainly because I took about four weeks off after my 50-miler. I needed a break from running, more mentally than anything else.
This only became a problem when I realized that my next 50-miler, in Vermont, was nine weeks away. I had to get back to running, to build up mileage again, and fast.
Only that wasn’t so easy to do. The month of July has been one big heat wave where I live, and apparently, my mental muscles got a little flabby during the time off too. When I knew I had to get back out there but didn’t quite feel like it, the heat was the perfect excuse to stay inside.
“I would train, if only it weren’t so hot out.”
“It’ll be cooler next week. I’ll start then.”
And then I realized what I was doing.
If I show up to that start line in Vermont and have to run 50 miles that I’m not in shape to run, nobody is going to care when I tell them it was too hot to train in July. And having an excuse like that certainly isn’t going to make the 50 miles any less miserable to actually run.
As soon as I recognized that I am responsible, regardless of the weather or anything else, I was able to make it happen. Since I did that, I’ve been in the gym or out on the trail almost every single day.
It’s not just running
Believing that you’re responsible for whatever happens affects more than just your training, of course. When you believe it, you stop making excuses, even little ones you didn’t realize you made.
And not just in your own head, but in your interactions with others. I don’t know who Kimberly Johnson is, but she said you should “never ruin an apology with an excuse.”
I love this quote. When you say, “Sorry I’m late, traffic was bad,” that’s an excuse. Even when it’s true. So is, “Sorry I didn’t call you back, I had such a busy day.”
Keep the “sorry,” lose the excuse.
In the short term, it’s harder. There’s a moment of awkward silence the excuse used to fill, because the person you’re talking to expects the excuse. The first time you’re standing there, high and dry with nothing but the apology, it sucks.
But in the long term, you come to take responsibility for every last bit of your life.
To me, that’s pretty badass.
Courtney, at Be More With Less, is doing a Julie/Julia-type project and cooking her way through my new pinole and chia e-cookbook! But she needs a name for project, since “Julie & Julia” (a) is taken and (b) makes no sense here. If you suggest a name and she chooses it, you’ll win a copy. So head over there and help Courtney decide what to call the project!
This post is part of a series on motivation for running. Check out the rest!