Stop Giving It All or Nothing

How Training for a Half Marathon has made me dislike running from www.dineanddish.netAlternate titles for this post:

“How Training For a Half Marathon Has Made Me Dislike Running”

“What the hell is wrong with me and why can’t I stick to anything?”

“Tales of a non-perfectionist, perfectionist”

You get the point. Running and I are not being friends right now. “Well, how can that be?” you ask. “Aren’t you training to run a half-marathon in October? Didn’t you write out all of these lofty goals on your 39th birthday and said you were going to make 39 the best year ever?”

Yes, yes I did… and I have some explaining to do. You see, signing up to run a half marathon was something I did on a whim. It sounded like a good goal at the time, but I really didn’t think it through. Even though I had run 5K’s in the past, I hadn’t ever ran past 3.2 miles and well, to be frank, I am pretty much perfectly fine NEVER running 13 miles. Ever. Of course, I didn’t realize that until I started training for the half marathon and realized just exactly how far 13 miles is! It’s a VERY long ways, people! Very long.

Still, I committed and have been training. I even ran on vacation and kept up with my training then. My problem stems from the day after we returned from vacation. According to my half-marathon training schedule I was slated to run 7 miles. After a week of eating ice cream every day, rich breakfast foods, splurging on all the extras, I was scheduled to run my furthest distance ever, by far. You can probably guess what happened… I got less than half of the way done, felt like I was dying, and I quit. What came next was this self-loathing, disappointed, “you suck and can’t do this” spiral. In my head I knew that my training program was designed to help people finish a half marathon. After failing at one run, I just told myself I can’t do it… and since I failed at that one run I was off schedule and might as well give up. So I did.

Shame Quote Brene Brown


I was/am embarrassed, ashamed, and disappointed in myself. I have been terribly overwhelmed at the thought of trying to run that distance again and have decided that running 5 miles, maybe 6, is about as far as I like to run. So what have I been doing? Running hardly at all. Because, if I can’t run the distance the half-marathon training app tells me I should be running, I might as well just not run. Right? Makes sense? No, it doesn’t. It makes no sense at all but that’s just how my brain works. You might be like me if…

  • You join Weight Watchers and do a good job counting your points. Then, one morning, you splurge and have an outrageously calorie laden breakfast. You are sure you went way over your points, so, you just stop counting points for the day. Then that spills into the week because you aren’t sure exactly how many of your “extra” weekly points you may have used so you just throw in the towel for the entire week. That one week turns to two and two to three and before long you realize that your donations to Weight Watchers are quite hefty and cancel your membership… for the third time in one year.
  • You buy a new planner that starts fresh with August 1st. You were so busy you didn’t get to sit down to write in your planner on August 1st. Weeks pass by and since you missed the first couple of weeks of the month your planner starts, you set it aside only to not use it at all because it isn’t “perfect” not starting it on the date you were designed to start it on. $50 bucks down the drain and a beautiful, empty planner remains sitting on your desk, unused.
  • You plan on starting a weekly cleaning regimen. You are supposed to start on Monday, but Monday is crazy busy and you don’t get around to it. You could very easily start on Tuesday, but that’s not “perfect” so you don’t start at all.
  • You set out in 2013 to share a weekly menu plan on your blog each Sunday. You missed one Sunday so then quit doing it all together, because that’s logical, right?
  • You do a monthly photography prompt for fun. You miss a day and instead of picking up on the next day, you quit completely because it wouldn’t be “perfect” to have a gaping day right in the middle of the month where you forgot to take the picture.

I’m ashamed, angry, annoyed, and unhappy with myself. I am not a perfectionist, so why do I try to live my life in a way where I set expectations upon myself to be perfect? I’m at the point where I need to either buy new clothes, wear sweats 24/7 or get on the flipping wagon and lose some weight. And running will help with that… running 1 mile, 3 miles or 13 miles will HELP with that.

I will be running the half marathon.. well not running, but I will be doing the half marathon and I will cross the finish line, even if it takes me hours and hours.


In the meantime, I’ve joined the free “Live More, Weigh Less” challenge that starts on September 3rd over at Sarah Jenks website. Won’t you join me? (even if you start on the 4th or the 5th or the 15th, that’s ok!) I’m looking forward to going on a journey of self discovery and loving myself again – 30 pounds overweight and all. I’m tired of going all or nothing and repeating the same patterns… I’m ready to accept that sometimes, in between is just fine. I want to let go of the ties to perfection and accept what I can do and am capable of without the self-loathing and pity that comes when I try too hard to live up to the un-realistic expectations I set for myself.

Don’t you?


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  1. Christine D says

    I decided to take a break from everything a week ago. No counting points, no tracking, no working out. Why? Cause I’m in burn out. Between personal reasons, work and getting read to go on vacation, well, I’m just burned out. I’m still making good choices when eating I’m just not making it my full focus. When I get back from vacation, I plan on hitting the ground running and start everything back up again (in the 95th percentile, of course). I too, am not perfect :) Thanks for sharing and it’s nice to know there are others out there who struggle. christine

  2. Terri A. says

    You pretty much just described me to a T. Although I’ve finished half marathons before, I’m always the slowest one and beat myself up about it. I quit so much before I even start. Although I’m sure you’re not happy to hear this, I’m glad I’m not alone. Thanks for being honest. Will check out the Live More Weigh Less challenge.

    And, by the way, walking the half marathon counts as doing a half marathon.

  3. LoverOfAnythingChocolate says

    I think you should do it either through bloglovin’ or email.
    Anyways, it’s okay. Go ahead and take a break! Everyone needs one! :)

  4. says

    Kristen, bare with me here. Who cares if you don’t run a half marathon? It’s not the marathon that matters. What matters is that you ran a half mile, then 1 mile, then 2 miles, then 3 miles….what matters is that you disciplined yourself to run at all. So you had a big breakfast and it was hard to run. This happens to everyone. Take a break. Start again in a few days. It’s great to have the goal of the marathon but whether you choose to actually run it isn’t what counts. Your health counts. Physical strength counts. The fact that you are self-disciplined counts. You got up every day and taught yourself how to run. That’s an accomplishment.

    To me, goals aren’t things you check off like a grocery list. They’re motivating forces that get us headed in a direction, that allow us to learn about ourselves. Goals take us into directions we may not have considered heading in before. And, in the process of trying to reach the goals we learn. We make mistakes. We form new goals. Ignore the culture. Focus on the journey, not the goal.

  5. says

    Sounds like me with biking this summer. I’ve ridden twice. Two years ago I was riding 40-60 miles a day on the weekends. In a word, I got burned out. I have no motivation and use the excuse of being too tired after work (on my feet for 9 hours). But today I signed up for the Live More Weigh Less challenge. Thanks for the heads-up, Kristin. Today I will go for a walk before dinner. No goal/miles in mind. Just a nice walk.

    BTW, I’ve done two Half Marathons. This was back when I was running 5 miles a day on a very regular basis. Both events were rewarding, but wrecked my knees for months. My two cents? Skip the race and sign up for a 10K later this fall. Maybe get one of your kids to run with you. 13 miles is over-rated.

  6. says

    We are our own worst critics! Hats off to you for even registering for a half-marathon and training AND on vacation. Baby steps and doing a little every day with the knowledge that one little misstep won’t derail the entire train is my attitude. So what if you missed a month of menu posts or a day of training? There’s always tomorrow. Every day is a fresh start and a chance for a new beginning – (this is what my husband and I tell each other as the parents of teenagers!!) Your running shoes will be there for you :) and so will your friends.
    Repurpose that planner – your kids will love playing “work” with it!!

  7. Jennifer says

    What a great post! I am sorry you are feeling so bad about yourself. I personally have been enjoying your website and made th Summer Harvest Salad for a family celebrations and it was great. So thank you for making it that much tastier and special. As a person with RA, my energy and pain levels dictate what can and can’t be done in any given day. I still make list and cross things off even though some things just hang around and never get removed, but at least it’s a starting point. Good luck!

  8. says

    I have been burdened with the ‘perfectionist’ thing for as long as I can remember. For those that might think it means we ARE perfect, they should walk a mile in our shoes. That constant striving for perfection has deeper roots and for me, ones I was totally unaware of until a therapist unlocked that secret door of self explanation. My mother was an alcoholic and it’s not unusual for some children of alcoholics (we don’t ALL follow that path) to seek what we never had. The perfect table, the perfect Christmas, the perfectly harmonious existence we never knew as kids. In seeking that, we make life more difficult for ourselves and those around us. I have had to work to let little things slide but it will always be a part of who I am; maybe being more aware of it has helped me let an unmade bed go and a weekend of not cutting the grass not make me miserable though!

    I used to run before an injury that changed everything. I ran 3 miles every day for years and never once strived for more; that run was fun and made me feel exhilarated every single day…I knew that taking on more would make it something less. I guess I didn’t feel the need for a challenge for fear it would ruin the experience? I did run in a neighborhood 5K once; I did not win but I beat my friends high school daughter who was on the track team…that was a big win; I was your age!

    I wish for you to just give yourself a break; that is my mantra every day. That unmade bed? Everyone survives. The dishes still have to be done and not left in the sink but hey, it’s a learning process!

  9. says

    I have been thinking about this post since you published it. It’s so powerful! I can totally relate to being a perfectionist who drops a project because one little thing didn’t go as planned. This post and all of those comments show we are not alone feeling like this and that we can draw strength from supporting each other. Xoxo

  10. says

    Sigh, I know how you feel all too well. I do the same thing over and over again thinking things will change if I get new running shoes or if I get a new app to count calories, etc. It’s tough!! I’ve been seeing what an inspiration you’ve been to so many people with this new fun program. I’m going to look into it some more. I need to feel better about myself and start to just LIVE and not be so consumed with calories and numbers and sizes and all that! Thanks for this post, Kristen. You always have the best inspirational posts :) xoxo

  11. says

    Yikes. I can SO relate. About to turn 40 in January…. I’ve set goals — some of the same goals I’ve set every year for the last I-Don’t-Know-How-Many-Years. I do like the weigh less live more approach. Just joined in….. GREAT post!!! Looks like a lot of us are in the same boat.

  12. says

    Ohmahgosh! K, you should not feel shame or be disappointed in yourself. You have so many reasons to be proud of your accomplishments. We sometimes place impossible expectations upon ourselves with regard to goals. Goals can always be reassessed for new priorities at any time. Doing so does not make you weak. I am NOT a runner. This is by choice. I’ve read too much about how the stress damages our bodies and accelerates aging. And, this comes from an athlete who trained for the Olympics in triathlons! We humans were not engineered for long-distance running. We just aren’t. It’s so taxing. No wonder we detest it. We were made to handle healthy sprints and vigorous walks for exercise. But, somehow, the media (Oprah’s influence, too?) perpetuates this “hero” or “super human” status to those who do run and achieve in marathons. In my humble opinion, I think we can embrace the concept of “there are other things I can do for my mind, body and spirit” to be healthy, and succeed at it, for a happy, content and stress-free life. If you do make the decision to run, more power to you. But, if you decide not to run, I hope that you would feel not a single drop of shame. Whatever you decide, it will be the right decision for you. Thanks for sharing your story!

  13. says

    I am 100% with you on this. I have trained and run 3 half marathons in the last 3 years and have been nothing but miserable every time. But I thought I couldn’t call myself a runner if I didn’t do these punishing races. Then I read an article in Runners Magazine that made me feel so much better – you don’t have to run distance to consider yourself a runner. So who cares how you get across that line? Just go for it and then decide what distance (or exercise plan for that matter) works best for you and makes you happy. Also WW, I’ve joined and quit more times than I have finers and toes. I’ve decided I’m a cyclical dieter and that’s just the way I’m going to be. I’m not thrilled with it but I’m happier this way. Good luck on your journey! I hope you find happiness at the end.

  14. says

    So very true! And such a helpful post. “All or nothing thinking” is one of the mental patterns that cognitive-behavioral counselors try to help people break when they’re in treatment for depression so this isn’t just a matter of losing weight. It can be a very serious and helpful step for those deep in the doldrums.

  15. Jackie says

    I just happened upon your blog and I am sitting here, in shock, because every aspect of this post resonates with me. I find myself doing all of the things, and until now, I never could put words to how I felt. Thank you so much, because this was my wake-up call.

  16. says

    Great post.
    First of all, i am so impressed that you could come out and say that you were struggling with something to everyone (as a perfectionist that is tough!), so congrats! Second of all, do not worry about your running progress. its totally natural to push something away that makes you feel like a failure and puts your mood down. half marathons are tough races and huge accomplishments. If it was going to be easy everyone would do them! LIke everything, running just takes practice and repetition. I ran my first two half marathons this year -before training for them my longest distance run was 7km but it took a lot of time and effort to get there. Getting to that 12 km felt so good though – getting to 5km the first time felt amazing. And i am sure you have felt those running highs before. maybe set your goals as running 5miles, then 7 miles, then 9 miles, etc. instead of focusing on this big looming 21 km (sorry I am from Canada and measure everything in km!). then you get to feel that sense of accomplishment and float on your own little cloud for the day.
    looking back, this is actually so pathetic but on the day i was so ecstatic: when i was 15 i started long distance running for the first time. my dad helped me set up a plan. it was very simple and easy. my goal was to run 10km within 6 months so my progression was slow. everything was done by time instead of distance. i was on week 3 or 4 and i was supposed to be running 15 mins (haha-superstar, i know 😉 ) and i ran 17 minutes instead. i was OVER the moon. I called my dad, my mum, my step mum to share the amazing knows (haha!). I told all my siblings and friends. I felt amazing – now 8 years later, i laugh how amazing i thought this achievement was. In all honesty, after your reading your post I have realized that because I had set the bar low I was able to feel that sense of accomplishment and i was soooo motivated to keep kicking ass!!! anyways, keep it girl! better to do something (even a walk around that block!) than nothing! you can do it!!!


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