Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ranting..

On the whole, I tend to think of myself as a fairly even-tempered person. Well - that's not entirely true. I tend to veer moor towards one or the other extreme but still - I tend to operate within a band of emotion which is, by and large, moderate. Acceptable, I think. However, from time to time I get totally and completely riled. Utterly.

Over the course of this summer this has happened more often than before. For reasons I shall not bore you with I have recently come in for a larger than usual share of personal criticism. Thankfully not from my husband (or even my children..) but nonetheless. And let me say this upfront - I'm not terribly good at taking criticism. Much better at giving than taking it. However, I am trying to be grown-up about it and to stay calm (serenity now, serenity now). I'm taking it away and trying to work out whether it is true and fair criticism and, if so, if there is anything I can or should do about it. Again I won't bore with what I have been told are my various faults (highlights are that I am, apparently, not terrible sociable, and I am, apparently, occasionally bad-tempered). All fairly subjective criticisms as well, I realise, and I do not take all of it on board.

But then, yesterday, another missile was lobbed at me. Apparently - "and another thing" - I am addicted to running. It's wearing me out and affecting my life and that of those around me negatively. I blame it on the papers: 2 weeks ago this article appeared in the Telegraph and various other papers and since then lots of people have quoted the contents to me. I've tended to just make light of it, and haven't really gone into it. But last night it did rile me.

And why does it irritate me? Well, firstly, I guess, because I don't think it's true. I imagine the research quoted in the article is scientifically accurate, but I don't think that I exercise excessively. Marathon training is intense, but I know plenty of other "normal" people who do it, and many who exercise a great deal more than I do. I don't suffer from anorexia athletica (jeez have you seen me lately?). And when I don't run - like a week ago, when I had to take 5 days off - I did not display "symptoms like those seen in addicts: trembling, writhing, teeth chattering, and drooping eyelids". Good lord.

But what I really don't think is true is that my running affects a) my family and b) my life negatively. I polled the only person who matters in this respect, Adam (my kids would love it if I devoted every waking moment to them so I'm not going to check in with them) and he confirmed that, and I quote "your running does not affect my life negatively in any way and I am very proud of your achievements". I make a considerable effort to ensure that my running rarely takes place at a time when it could affect my family - 80% of it takes place before 8am.

So the final topic to stew on - does it affect my life negatively? The criticiser claimed that I was "always tired" as a result of my running. I'm not. Yes - when I run a 20 miler at 6am I am no longer fresh as a daisy by 9pm. But believe me, it's the rest of my life (2 kids, house, a pile of responsibilities) that tires me out. I have always woken early and gone to bed early (I have just checked and confirmed this with my mother, source of most truths) and this fits in with my running. Thinking things through I would say that the only thing that is sacrificed for my running is watching TV and frequent late night revelling. Without a hint of sanctimoniousness and with, indeed some regret, I don't watch any TV. I tend to use my evenings to catch up on things in my life - friends, books, washing, tidying, etc. I miss the series I would like to watch. But - it's not a big regret. And as for frequent late night revelling - I never was able to keep up with the big kids for very long and, occasionally, I can still bust out a great party night. All the more enjoyable for being a bit more rare...

Fundamentally I am upset by this criticism because I love running and what it has done for my life and I am upset to think that something that makes me so happy could be considered such a bad thing by others. It has not only helped me lose weight that I had carried for over 10 years. It has not only toned me and strengthened me. But it has also served as an enormously healthy way of dealing with stress and tension. It continues to give me an enormous sense of achievement, every day. And it has given me friends and social networks - running buddies near and far - and goals to work towards. The gains, in short, have been enormous.

What are your thoughts? How does your family feel about the time you devote to running? Do you feel you miss out on things because of it?

Ok. Rant over.

Finally - it's taper time. 3 weeks till Berlin. The knee is getting better - Jonathan said it was a typical fell runner's injury (hardcore, but still undesirable) and is working on loosening the quads and minimising the swelling. I feel fairly confident that Jonathan, and time and taper, will get my knee healed before Berlin. I've been icing after runs, and only felt my knee slightly in the last (downhill) miles of yesterday's 20 miler. Nonetheless, I got her in in 2:53 which gives me confidence for the big race in 3 weeks. Hope everyone's running is going well. I am YEARS behind on commenting on your blogs but intend to catch up next week!

13 comments:

lizzie lee said...

Dear Petra, You can't control the way people think. Why do you even care?

* Are you happy with your running? * Are you happy with your achievements?
* Do you think your husband and kids feel the same pride you do feel every time you complete a 17-miler, a 20-miler, a 26.2?

If you have answered yes to those questions, as far as I am concerned the criticizer can take a hike. And I will recommend for him/her a very hilly one. Let's see if he/she can take it.

Running marathons gives us the power of being disciplined, consistent, challenged, the power to do things beyond the ordinary, the power to better other aspects of our lives.

Let go, it's not worthy. Keep doing what makes you feel happy. And my signature goes this time in capital letters....

KEEP RUNNING!!!!!!!!!

sincere-lee
lizzie lee

jeanne said...

i like what lizzie said. it's hard not to take criticism to heart, because fundamentally we all want people to approve of us! but you know in your heart this person is just WRONG, so try not to fret. as for being not sociable enough and occasionally bad-tempered...um, see definition of human in the dictionary! And I too have pretty much given up TV, bcs I choose to read at night before my 9 p.m. bedtime. So tell your critics: bollocks!

ShirleyPerly said...

For sure, I have heard the same comments from a few well-meaning friends and family members over the years and, at times, I think I was an addict. If I laid off from exercising for a while, I became very grouchy and stressed out. Dave would actually tell me to go exercise as I'd feel better (and be nicer to him).

I came to realize that it was not so much exercise that I was addicted to as it was stress. I put all sorts of unnecessary stress on myself at work (especially), dealing with family issues, trying to maintain a clean home, trying to be the best I can in sports and everything, really, because of my perfectionist, workaholic nature. And while I did get tremendous satisfaction from doing them well, I decided it was not worth it. I was destroying myself.

So now I'm a LOT more laid back, believe it or not. And I think having a coach has really helped me with that this year. It turns out I can still do all that want to do on much less than I thought. Quality over quantity. That said, Lizzie Lee is right. You can't control others, only yourself.

Susan said...

one word: jealousy. That's all it is.

Running is the BEST thing to happen to most of us, as you well know. I can understand 100% all of your points. Since Isaac has come along, I have "given up" some fun stuff, but nothing worth splitting any hairs over! No way!

I can sympathize with the going to bed early, using free time to spend with family and clean up, etc. Those are the important things - not going out all night! LOL

Like Adam, Chasen is behind me 100%. We have some good men, I'd say!

jen said...

Such a great post. You said it all! I agree completely and won’t even repeat what you said.

I will add that if you are a running addict then what would these people think of me in my Ironman training? And what about people that do far more intense training than me?? Ultras, big adventure sports, etc? Whatever they say, I say Kiss My Ass. Running/Triathlon training is my life right now because I love it. I’m happier and healthier than I’ve ever been.

Also, I really don’t think what this world needs is to discourage people from exercising. Sheesh! We should be the models for our society. I’m going to say it, they (your critics) are just jealous. And probably lazy. Sorry.

I think you are fabulous. And you are a spectacular athlete and you inspire me! I think you’re awesome and you should continue running forever because you are awesome at it and it has done nothing but enhance your life. And I think you are fun, funny, sweet and pleasant and anyone who criticizes you can just shut the hell up.

Enjoy your taper and block the negativity! Think positive and ice your knee and hug your kids and continue to live your beautiful life.

Maddy said...

Without saying, I have a feeling a know where the critisim is coming from.

I agree that you can't control other people and what these people say should be tken with a grain of salt.

You're doing what you need to do for you. You're not leaving your children or other responsibilities untended to.

You checked with Adam and it's all good. It's really all you can do.

Keep doing what you're doing - it's working.

What stuck out to me is that without running I would have never met you and that would be no good!

Much Love to you Petra!

Irish Blue said...

Well, not sure I can add much to what all of the wise ladies said before me. Your husband supports you and sounds like a gem. Nuf said...

Likely, Susan has hit on it and it's a little bit of jealousy on the part of the evil b**ch who's all down on you. (LOL...ok, I don't know that they are an evil bi**ch, but they don't sound like much fun either. ;-)

Ironically, my own mother has told me she worries about me because I "exercise too much", yet she never worries about my sister who smokes 2 packs a day, has high blood pressure and high cholesterol? No, it's the exercising that will do one in. (Seriously!)

Final thought, not from me but from Mark Twain:

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can somehow become great."

Drusy said...

Petra, you're such a paragon of virtue to us - I can't imagine anyone having a go at you for your self-discipline and a good work/family/personal life balance!

You're genuine and kind - an incredible success; just look at your marriage and your kids!

I truly aspire to have someone tell me I'm addicted to running. I'd take it as a great compliment.

Enjoy the taper and have a great race!

Nicole said...

I feel your pain at the criticism. That's the kind of feedback that gets you right where it hurts: how you do as a mom.

I think running makes me a better mom: without it I would be much more impatient! Running takes the edge off falling cups of sticky drinks, drawings on the wall and fights like 'Mommy, he's looking at me!'

And I'm sure this applies to all moms.

So next time people feel the need to tell you how you should live your life you just say: 'It's a good thing I run, otherwise I would have had to clock you one! Take a run!'

Road Warrior said...

People that say these things always make me chuckle. These are the same people who think the "I only run when people are chasing me" quip is funny. (Note: it's not)

I once had someone tell me that marathon runners are incredibly unhealthy people because of some sort of "hunter/gatherer" argument that was complete BS.

I tend to let them speak and then mentally pat them on the head. They don't know what we go through. They don't know how much we'd like that slice of pizza or glass of wine but can't because we have a long run tomorrow.

They don't know how much sleep we've lost because we don't want to interrupt others in our day. They don't know because they can't possibly know.

We should really forgive them for saying these things because they can't possibly know what they're talking about.

runningcommentaries said...

I just found your blog, but I've experienced similar criticism and it's not great! I so agree- it's a healthy way to deal with stress and manage weight. Keep it up and congrats on the BQ!

runningcommentaries said...

I just found your blog, but I've experienced similar criticism and it's not great! I so agree- it's a healthy way to deal with stress and manage weight. Keep it up and congrats on the BQ!

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