On Self-Compassion: 3 Strategies Runners Use That Will Help You Show Up with More Confidence

Good news! I finally broke out of my latest running slump. The truth is, until recently, I hadn’t ran consistently in at least 6 months, and— running, oh how I’ve missed you.

I enjoy training again, and I’m working toward completing my first half marathon (which is small potatoes for some, but I am ecstatic!!!).

Nonetheless, I regularly face roadblocks and ponder how clearly running parallels life. Allow me to elaborate:

#1: Let go of shame.

As a runner,

it takes a certain amount of trial and error to discover your race pace. Having only participated in a couple of races to date, I am still working on finding that sweet spot. I often make pace adjustments and wish I would have done things differently, but, in the race:

All you can do is move forward.

Maybe you blow it and leave the starting line too fast. You worry you might not finish. My advice? Focus on the mile that you’re on. Do the best you can right now, then keep on doing it.

As a mother,

I failed horribly a couple of weeks ago. I let the kids play in the front yard unsupervised, while I ate at the kitchen table a few feet away. I left the door cracked and thought, I will hear them if anything goes wrong. We live in a very rural neighborhood, off a dirt road, and I honestly didn’t think I was endangering them.

After only a few minutes I heard a kind voice say, “Is your Mommy home?”. I met the elderly gentleman on the porch before he knocked.

He said, “Did you know you have a baby in the street?”. My heart stopped.

I ran to my son who was standing with another man in the middle of the road. They had seen him, slowed, and parked their truck there to prevent traffic. As my husband and I thanked them profusely, the first gentleman placed his hand on Joe’s shoulder and said, “We don’t blame you. We just didn’t want him to get hurt.”

I cry thinking about those parting words.

Will I ever let my toddlers play in the front yard alone again? Never. However, I will always remember the compassion of this stranger, who could have easily added to our shame, but chose instead to lift us out of it.

As a believer,

I am reminded of the woman taken in adultery. When she was brought before the Lord, Jesus said, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John 8: 7 KJV). When the crowd dispersed He continued, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (John 8:11 KJV). He knew:

Sin No More by Del Parson

Regret may lead us to make necessary change, but shame cripples.

So, yes, learn from your mistakes, but then, let shame go, and just focus on making tomorrow better.

#2: Love and respect your body as-is.

Letting go of shame also applies to the physical aspect of things.

Training requires runners keep their ideals, as well as their current capabilities, in mind. I sometimes procrastinate, rationalizing that when I reach my dream figure/weight/stamina/whatever-it-may-be, then I will be able to run a marathon or hike the Narrows.

But I am slowly learning that I need to accept, respect, and be grateful for the body that I have.

God gave us this incredible gift. He created us, and He loves us. Goals are a wonderful thing, but don’t let shame keep you from taking the small steps you can take today with the body that you have.

Instead, be fiercely proud to be exactly who you are.

#3: Give yourself grace, and don’t give up.

Acknowledge your “off” seasons.

Most runners have an “off” season, depending on the weather, or the race schedule that year. We cross-train or keep to shorter distances until conditions improve, or until training mandates a more serious effort. Thus, we need to be aware of, and adjust for, various conditions.

For example, I live in the desert now, but I moved from a town where snow fell between 5-6 months of the year. I went from a winter running wardrobe, complete with micro-spikes and a buff, to a very real risk of heat exhaustion, and I learned I do need water for a mere half-an-hour run.

Gloriously, it’s starting to cool down, and that’s part of the reason I’ve gotten out more lately.

But they say if something truly matters to you, you make it work, right?

It’s true— it’s all about priorities, but priorities change.

As a parent of young children, my running options are limited. I can choose to:

  • wake up at 5am and run before my husband leaves for work,
  • run with the double stroller on a dirt road full of stickers, or
  • run tired at the end of a long day, in place of spending quality time with my spouse.

It makes serious training fairly difficult.

I once asked Joe’s former cross-country coach (a mother of triplets, plus one), “How did you make time for running when your kids were little?” She said simply, “I didn’t”.

Because we have “off” seasons in life, too, and that’s okay.

Your dream won’t leave you behind.

The second half of the equation to giving yourself grace is, recognize that your dream won’t leave you behind.

One day, I hope to run El Vaquero Loco 50K, a beautiful, difficult trail race in Western Wyoming. Joe has a few hoodies from this one, and lots of pictures:

I almost applied before we discovered my son was on the way. A little over a year later, I don’t have, nor can I realistically “make”, the time to train for a 50K, but that doesn’t mean I will never get the chance.

I know several runners who reached their prime in their late 20s/early 30s, and some who started well into in their 60s.

I have faith that my dream will be waiting for me when my “off” season is over.

Your dream doesn’t have to be running— the same is true for you.

So don’t lose hope.

Keep at it. In running, and in life:

Here’s to more relentless forward progress.

❤ Jenny


Ideas for Discussion

  1. Do you have any tips for letting go of shame?
  2. Name three things you are grateful for about your body.
  3. How has allowing grace into your life changed you for the better?

26 thoughts on “On Self-Compassion: 3 Strategies Runners Use That Will Help You Show Up with More Confidence

  1. I know of the terror a parent feels…but thank God for kindness. And the lesson of your post is an excellent one. we all struggle with issues and must work on letting go of the shame. Wonderful lesson to be reminded of. Good luck on your continued running.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve competed in a few half-marathons, but long-distance cycling is my sport. I’ve noticed runners and cyclists come in all different shapes and sizes, so don’t sell yourself short! I can tell you have the heart ❤️ of a marathoner! I wish you well in your training!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Deborah ❤️. That means so much to me.

      And long distance cycling! What an enjoyable challenge. You probably see so much of God’s beauty out and about 😊.

      Thanks for reading! Blessings to you throughout your day today 💕.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I was expecting 2 Timothy 4 to come up, lol 😀
    But on that note, while it was more about Paul’s impending death, those words “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (v. 7) drive home the point that in all times of life, God’s grace is abundant and sufficient for us. You’re right about mistakes, too. Our sinful nature likes to dwell on our past mistakes but Jesus has already paid for them. We don’t need to dwell, only learn and go forward. Christians can have that same confidence as Paul when their dying day comes because of Jesus Christ.
    Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. The more time spent reading God’s Word and in prayer helps me to move forward. I am grateful for improving my health (no longer pre-diabetic), maintaining a stable body weight with plenty of exercise (I walk a great deal), and being relatively free of illness. Being 63, I have learned God’s Grace is always there to help me.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Jenny, I started running races when I was 39. After years of pushing myself to continue to PR as well as going through an off season after neck surgery, running has taught me a lot about grace. I’m on the journey of running a race (of any distance) in all 50 states. Last week I ran a trail half in WV. Had no idea we’d be running most of the course on a mountain bike trail. And it rained the entire time. That required self compassion and grace. We are not defined by our finishing times and placements. We have the courage to step up to the start line and the fortitude to cross the finish line. Meanwhile, we pray through the rain and the unforeseen.
    Enjoy the Journey, Jenny!

    Liked by 2 people

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