The “Not Good Enough Blues” Almost Stole My Joy

 

This weekend I participated in an all women’s sprint triathlon. It was the first time in 5 years that I competed in a swim/bike/run event.

 

Standing in front of the gorgeous lake before sunrise, I was flooded with a sense of deep appreciation for the hundreds of inspirational, strong women who were about to jump in and swim. This was really happening. I was scared and excited at the same time.

 

The race started in waves. When it was finally my turn to enter the lake, I gave my friend a huge hug and walked into the 76 degree water. Not having trained as much as I “should” have, I called to mind my goal for the race, “to have fun and complete it.”

 

The swim tends to freak me out the most. I reminded myself to breathe several times. I tried to focus on moving forward and not worrying about how many people were ahead of me.

 

Finishing the swim I felt a huge sense of relief. Now it was time to get on my bike. The gorgeous bike course took us on a journey through rolling hills. I took in the beauty of my surroundings as I climbed hill after hill.

 

When the bike leg was over, I laced up my running shoes, put on my running skirt and headed out for a slow jog. My legs were tired and running was super challenging. I reminded myself that my results did not matter, I just wanted to finish and have fun.

 

When I crossed the finish line, I felt happy and very alive. I did it! I finished my race and had a blast. I had reached my goals and felt proud. I watched and cheered as more “Irongirls” beautifully crossed the finish line.

 

It wasn’t long before my sense of accomplishment started to waver. My thoughts went from”yes- you did it” to “ughh…why didn’t you train harder and do better.”

 

I know this feeling well. The “you didn’t do good enough” mindset has robbed me of my joy many times. It has even kept me from registering from events I wanted to try.

 

I felt this shame come up for me again when I looked at my results. Although they were decent, I started to compare my results to other women in my age group. I felt my inner bitch taunting me with the feeling that my results weren’t worthy of celebration.

 

In the car ride home, my friend and I discussed the ways women are so hard on themselves. Whether it is about the size of our butt, the way that we parent, or the results of a race, it is so easy to see out faults. Our culture tends to be so competitive. It is so difficult to measure up. While it is easy to celebrate the success of other women, our ability to see the best in ourselves can be so challenging.

 

I decided to once again focus on what went really well. To put my energy on the joy of the experience.

 

Here are a few of the fun things I learned:

 

* Find goggles that work for you. When I finally discovered goggles that didn’t leak or feel like they were sucking my eyes out of the sockets, swimming became much more fun. Thanks to my awesome friend and triathlon partner who recommended “Aqua Sphere” goggles.

 

* Surrender to the hills. Going down steep hills terrified me. I felt out of control and had to resist my urge to constantly ride the brakes. Learning to let go, breathe and enjoy the speed was a huge hurdle for me. I channeled my little kid energy and said “wheeee” as I sped down the hills. So much fun.

 

* Wear a cute skirt when you run. I know this isn’t the most time efficient thing to do, but pulling up my red polka dotted skirt made the last leg of the race so much more joyful.

 

* Honor yourself for working hard. Show some love and gratitude for your strong body.

 

* Appreciate the beauty of the moment. Celebrate, smile and take a picture with your medal.

 

* Be honest with your goals. If you want to have fun and complete the race, allow yourself to celebrate when you achieve your goal. If you want to improve your time, be specific and take the action steps you need in order to get there.

 

Irongirl pic

I posted this picture on Facebook despite the fact that I was still judging myself. I knew I would have to “out myself” and share the darker side of my experience in hopes it will help at least one person be kinder to themselves.

 

I learned that I really enjoy triathlons. I will do it again. I will not let my fear of “not being good enough” get in my way.

 

To celebrating your success-

Michelle

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