Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I Am A Penguin

Several years ago, I had a friend that I'd met online and she started talking about being a "penguin." I had no clue what she was talking about. She just said it was a running thing. I was still very anti-running so I just ignored it and moved on.

Then 2010 happened and I started my journey to become a runner. And I had some successes and I had some struggles. Lately, the struggles have been very mental. I think that's the hardest thing about running. 

Racing is one thing but I'm pretty sure the majority of folks who show up for a 5K on a Saturday morning aren't there to be first across the finish line. Running is a sport that's about personal records and pushing through mental hurdles and physical annoyances.

I came back from Christmas break to work and a co-worker, who has started up a weight loss plan, came to me, very proud, and announced that he knows he's doing better because he can just run a mile without even thinking about it now. He has been out of shape and not exercising and hasn't run in years and years but can suddenly just up and run a mile in 10 minutes or less. I can't even run an entire mile without a walk break and I've been at this for almost a year.

So I've got this mental defeatist battle going on in my head.

On the one hand, I'm too fat to run. On the other hand, my weight is a hindrance and when I get lighter, I'll run better.

On the one hand, I can't run a significant distance without a walk break. On the other hand, I'm building my endurance again and my recovery breaks are more effective and shorter.

On the one hand, I see fat when I look in the mirror and I see it in a negative way that I've not experienced before. On the other hand, I am down 2 or 3 pants sizes and that hasn't changed.

It's an ongoing battle. I was reading my friend Emily's blog a few days ago and she mentioned John Bingham and "the penguin." My interest was sparked... I remembered my friend Christine... and I went to John's website to check it out.

I'm a penguin.

I will never come in first in a race. In fact, I am pretty steady at being in the back part of the pack. I might not ever run a 10 minute mile. I might not get to a 13 minute mile. Maybe I can't run an entire mile. But I will. It might take me a long time to get to that point. And all of that is ok. Because I'm a penguin. I run... to run. I've gotten caught up lately in comparing myself to others too much. I'm getting too concerned about Christy being better than me or Robert being better than me or Emily being better than me... and I'm not focused on ME being better than me.

Actually, I need to completely get rid of the idea of being better than anything. I need to focus on each run as it starts and proceeds and ends. I will have good runs and bad runs. And if I get caught up in this better than that... I'm just going to defeat myself.

Slow mileage is better than no mileage. I'm slow. I know. Getter over it. The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.

 I am a penguin. I waddle. I'm slow. But I'm doing it. I'm out there, running. Sometimes I walk, sometimes I shuffle, sometimes I run.

 I am a penguin. And proud of it.



Dillypoo said...

I only recently started claiming to be a runner. Before that I walked. And before that I sat.

It took me 46 years to start walking and it took me a year after that to start running. That was eight months ago.

You're spot on that running is a sport that's about personal records and pushing through the mental and physical challenges. Take pride in being a penguin! And enjoy the journey.

And thank you for leaving the book suggestion! I'm going to check that one out.

Shannon said...

I'm a jogger and I get embarrassed when someone requests to run with me. I always come up with excuses to jog alone. If I do run with someone, I always think that I am slowing them down. I only have one friend who I will run with right now, she's a power walker, our 2 speeds mesh. Cheers to Penguins!!

Garret said...

At least you do it. Instant points in my book.

Anonymous said...

We're good at beating ourselves up, aren't we! I totally get ya though...just showing up and trying is more than most people would do and yet we don't celebrate that. Good for you for recognizing that in yourself and trying to be conscious of it!

Joanie said...

I think you are like me, in a way. Even with all the weight you've lost in the past year, and all the good muscle you've gained, you look in the mirror and still see a fat person looking back at you. Even with everyone telling you how great you look!

After my son was born (nearly 23 years ago now), I overheard someone mention they thought I was pregnant again. That motivated me! I lost 35 pounds, was doing weight training, riding a bike, did aerobics and step aerobics (all in my family room!). I was looking HOT (I see that now when I look at pictures). I still saw a fat lady who still needed to lose 20 pounds. Then I did get pregnant again, and I've been struggling ever since.

Look in the mirror and really SEE the hot babe you have become!

Ashli Moore said...

I hope you know how absolutely proud I am of your success this past year. Your attitude keeps me motivated and I so much appreciate our friendship. Love you my sister in Christ!

Lola said...

1) Thanks for the shout out. Glad The Penguin spoke to you :) Again. I'm doing the 100 Day Challenge that Bingham started and I love how it is pushing me.

2)I have a tank top I want to give to you- so we need to meet up again- soon.

3)What you said is so true- you're out there doing it. It doesn't matter how slow, it doesn't matter how many miles- you're doing it. You've just cleared a major mental running hurdle- by knowing the competition is purely against yourself, you've already won.

Unknown said...

"Anonymous" up there is me! I was posting that comment from my iTouch and I wasn't "logged in". Have a great day, Liz!

Karen M. Peterson said...

This is a good post, Liz. I know I need to stop comparing my abilities with others because we all have different things we're "good" at. We also have different things that matter to us.

I'm a penguin, too.

Shell said...

I like the attitude of the penguin.

Amy said...

Love it. I might have to get a little penguin to keep on my desk or dresser to keep me going. Thanks for the inspiration.

C. Beth said...

Awesome, Liz. :)

Angie @ Just Like The Number said...

Embrace your penguin! I'm a penguin too. I used to read John's columns in Runner's World when I was running a lot, and they always made me happy.

The thing is, people don't really care to know the details. If you tell them you ran a 5K, the Mini, a marathon, they are just impressed that you had the gumption to do it. Only my kids had the audacity to ask if I came in first in the Disney marathon (because I got a medal). I had a good laugh over that one, especially since i got passed by a shuffling 70 year old on the final mile.

Keep at it. You're doing awesome!