A few days ago, I introduced the voice of ego and its impact on our self-evaluation as runners. The ego sees success in terms of competition, and it focuses on speed. Back of the Pack runners are not appreciated. Fast people rock, slow people suck; it’s as simple as that.
But no, it’s not. The ego plays an even more complex and destructive role when we allow it to. It doesn’t limit itself to commenting on big events. It can just as easily suck joy out of our sport in other ways. For example, the ego adopts unrealistic goals and training schedules that set us up for injury.
Ego Aims Too High
It is common for beginning, returning, older, and out-of-shape runners to jump into a program without looking. They commit to a volume of training and racing that does not acknowledge their condition and its needs. They fail to schedule recovery days, they add miles too quickly, and they introduce speed work before laying a solid foundation of endurance. My friend John speaks of the “terrible toos:” too much, too soon, too far, too fast, and too often with too little rest.
Ego Pushes too Hard
After pushing the envelope from the outset, the ego is slow to recognize when it has gone too far. Jeff Galloway talks about body parts that are chronically problematic or currently recovering from injury. He calls them weak links. A weak link is a faulty connection between healthy and injured. It deserves respect and adjustment by going slower, walking more, and taking more rest days. It warns us to listen to our bodies.
Ego Misses the Message
The ego is a poor listener. It ignores the obvious and resists change until we hit the wall. The ego is not our friend when we need to back off, slow down, and heal.
What About You?
When has the ego gotten you into trouble? Are you getting better at hearing and countering its persuasive call?