In Which Jenn is Insufficiently Excellent

Kevin Sorbo is disappointed

My dad has this saying: “The excellent is the enemy of the good.” And lately I feel like the phrase was coined with running in mind.

When you first start running it’s hard, physically and mentally – but in other ways, it’s almost easy, because practically everything you do constitutes a personal record. Slowly you build up your mileage and your speed, and before you know it you’re regularly knocking back ten miles and isn’t that amazing?!

In the immortal words of Strong Bad:

And then you run your first race, and no matter what the length or how long it takes you, you just finished your first race, and isn’t that amazing?

And then you run your first half marathon and it doesn’t matter what your time is, really, because the fact that you made it to the finish line means that you’ve just ticked off another box in your list of accomplishments.

But once you’ve established the basics – once you’ve run the race, run your longest, run your fastest in your life – the progress stalls. Speed stops climbing; even decreases. Bodily effects are not as apparent. Suddenly it gets harder and harder to pull out a new personal record. And it is at that point that the good training we do every week no longer feels like enough. It is no longer good enough to be simply good because we are accustomed to being excellent.

I fear that’s where I feel I’m hanging out right now. I have ticked off some of the standard accomplishments – half marathon completed, BETTER half marathon completed, twenty miles run… now what? Well, now the never-ending struggle to improve, and it’s not happening fast enough for me because I do not want to be only good. But it seems that “good” is my hangout spot right now.

So. I don’t want to say I’ve hit a wall, because I don’t think it’s that bad, but I am feel unexcellent. Remarkably specific, no? Anyone got tips on overcoming this exciting little problem of mine?

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  1. I'm still in the "holy moly, I ran three miles and didn't fall over" phase, so I'm afraid I can't offer much advice, but sometimes being just "good" is the best you can be for a time! (Also, I have no idea what that sentence-structure was… English major, FTW.) If it helps at all, you're a HUGE inspiration to me as I push on in my running journey. Don't lose heart- I think you're pretty dang excellent! 🙂

  2. Awww, thanks! And when you're first starting, 3 miles is a definite accomplishment. What races are you planning on hitting next year? Maybe we'll run into you! 😀

  3. I'm not sure which races I'll be doing in 2014 (they always seem to be happening when I'm up at school and can't get away), but I'm for sure planning on the Princess Half in 2015. Which WDW races would you recommend?

  4. Haha, I'd love to do the Wine and Dine, but I feel like it's a bit silly to do it before I turn 21 😛 I think the Tower of Terror 10-miler might be a fun goal to tackle before the Half!

  5. I've spent my life in the unexcellent range, so allow me to help you out here: just like running, it gets easier to be unexcellent over time. It's all about reorienting your goals so that the things that don't feel excellent suddenly feel like a major accomplishment.

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