I ran 8 miles this morning around the neighborhood. It felt really easy and the overall pace was around 9:45. When I finished I looked at Mr. 620, (my Garmin) and it said, 1:18:16, not bad for an easy run, but I wasn’t happy with it. Truthfully, I haven’t been happy with the last 3 or 4 runs. I use all kinds of tools to help me become the best runner that I can be and I think I’m putting too much thought into the heart rate training. I know the reason that my VO2 Max varies but I put way too much pressure on myself to get it higher and higher.
If I am guilty of anything in life, it’s trying to be perfect. Now, I’m sure there are some people who may be reading this right now and thinking, ‘what the hell is she talking about, she is far from perfect’, and they’re right. I’m not perfect nor have I ever been but it doesn’t stop me from striving to be because I am a perfectionist. Couple that with my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and I’m a recipe for disaster at best.
Over the years, I have learned how to deal with my perfectionism although there are times, like today, when I get very stressed over certain things or situations. Fortunately I can identify that this is happening and I have learned how to cope with it.
I suspect quite a few of the runners that I have met over the years are also perfectionists. I know a lot of them suffer from OCD as do I. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems to be more common among the running community.
Perfectionists live in a world of self-criticism and ridiculously high expectations of themselves and others, but we are actually less productive. I may joke about my perfectionism and my OCD quite frequently, but the truth is it isn’t really funny.
You may think I’m writing this because I felt like my last run or last three runs were not perfect but that’s not why I’m writing this post at all. It’s because of her.
Madison Holleran was beautiful and she was smart and very athletic. According to Madison’s father, she was also a perfectionist. No one realized how stressed out she was or how depressed she had become until she jumped from the roof of a parking garage and killed herself. This should never have happened. She was bright and beautiful and talented and my heart aches for her family and friends.
This tragedy struck a chord in me. I didn’t know Madison and I don’t know what she was going through, but I do know what it feels like to constantly strive for perfection and it’s crippling. Unfortunately perfectionists are pretty good at hiding the stress from those around us and that’s why tragedies like this occur. If you suffer from depression or stress as a result of perfectionism, please consider seeing a therapist. You can learn to cope with it and I promise you, life will be a lot less stressful and a lot more fun.
If you’re worried that you may be a perfectionist but aren’t sure, you can take this quiz.
And here is a good article to help you control perfectionism but if the feelings are overwhelming and seem severe, please see a therapist.
Are you a perfectionist? How has it impacted your life?