I’ve mentioned here before that I’m a relentless perfectionist. I approach work and play as all-or-nothing endeavors in which I’d rather not play than play badly. It’s a personality flaw. I’m working on it, and probably always will be working on it.
This week, I’m working on it by fully committing myself to training for the Marine Corps 10K. I’ve been signed up for the race for weeks, and have been running with a greater sense of purpose ever since. I’ve been adding miles, hills and speed to the lovely, calm 30-minute trail runs I did for most of the summer, when I was fooling myself that I could go on lovely, calm, 30-minute trail runs and still run road races quickly.
Here’s the part that’s tricky for me: I’m still on the slow side of my own personal slow-fast running spectrum, and it’s unlikely I will regain that speed in the next two weeks. I’ve been known to approach this kind of situation as any good perfectionist would: by saying the race is a training run, and by jogging the whole thing to save myself from “failing” with a slow race.
There’s nothing wrong with treating a race as a training run. But I think there’s a difference between jogging a race (which there’s also a time and a place for) and treating it as a training run, with real goals and training objectives.
And so, I’m making a commitment to myself to treat this race as a tempo run, and to accept the fact that my current tempo-run pace might be 9-minute miles. When the race is done, no matter what my time, I’ll be proud of the effort I expended and the fitness I gained by actually accepting where I am today rather than wait to expend real effort until I’m an 8-minute-miler again.
Are you a perfectionist in your training and racing? How does that manifest itself, and how do you work to overcome it?