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You Can Quit Running When You are Nice To Yourself

I woke up this morning and went to 5:15am CrossFit class.

And I hated myself hard today. Full self-loathing.

This self-loathing behavior is usually on the back end of a food slippery slope, slide, fall and plop–which I have had the last few days.

I was well-aware that I woke up in a bloated sugar coma.

So the workout included two things after warm-up: 7 rounds of 400m running and “Toes to Bar” — the act of pulling your feet up to your hands while hanging from a bar.

Like most things in CrossFit, there was a time limit to the rounds.  3 minutes for 400m of running and 12 Toes To Bar–lather, rinse, repeat.

I had to scale the workout–which means to cut it down in order to do it at your current fitness level.  So I did 200m of running, and as many T2B as I could. (Scaling workouts, by the way, is the reason that I can  participate in CrossFit most of the time.)

As I took off on the run, everyone was way ahead of me. That’s fine. I’m used to that–in Crossfit and in life.

However. Today, the negative talk in my head was really loud. Really devastating. Really mean. It was a voice I hadn’t heard in a while, to be honest.

What the…

As I ran back in the gym to do the T2B on the fifth round, my hand tore open and I had to find another exercise to do.

At the end of the 21 minute workout, I had done half (if not 1/4 as much) as the others, and the voices in my head were so loud, so mean and so nasty.

The workout was over, and I hated myself.

So I went back out and ran another 200m.

I came in and did some Toes to Kettlebell (another scaled version).

The voices were louder, meaner.

I went back out and ran another 200m.  I intended to at least do the running distance that the others had done–hoping that would stop the voices.

After two rounds and the negativity continuing, I just said screw it–and I planned to run for an hour. To outrun my horrible running, my awful body, my failure and all the crap pile that I clearly was.


Then I said something to myself that snapped me out of it. I said:

You will repeat this 200m –not until you have run as much as the others, not until you have run an hour–BUT–until you have nothing but 200m of nice things to say to yourself.

I don’t know what made me think of that as a solution to the mean girl.

My second thought was, I hope I have the endurance to run as long as it will take me to say something nice.

Here’s the thing, though.  200m is only about 1:05-1:20 for me… depending on how fast I go.  So I simply had to say something nice to myself for a little over one minute.

As I took off for the next 200m run, I said:  You get to do this. You have an able body. You are strong. You are fat… shit.

Back inside.

I went back out again. You get to do this. You have an able body. You are strong. You woke up at 4:30 to do this. You get to do this! You are amazing. You are fit… fit… fit… fit…

I repeated the word: fit. 

And then the time was up.

I did it.  One minute of nice things to say to myself, about myself. It wasn’t that hard. And it felt better than the alternative.

I’m not sure what the point of that self-imposed rule was today. Maybe because I was out there running as punishment for how shitty of an athlete I felt I was today.

Which is exactly why I did not need to be out there doing it.

The motivation was wrong. I needed to correct it. Am I doing the best I can in my life right now? I am. God knows I am. I am failing sometimes, but for the love, I am doing the best I can.

I am simply tired. I am tired of the life-long internal battle of body image, of not “being a runner.” I am tired of the mean, perfectionist-driven idiot that lives in my head.  Today was an interesting way to overcome her–to say nice things, not outrun her–not to punish her.

Running is not punishment. I didn’t want to treat it as such.

I decided that the run needed to stop… and for all the right reasons.


“You may be the only person left who believes in you, but it’s enough.
It takes just one star to pierce a universe of darkness. Never give up.”
– Richelle E. Goodrich 


  • Chelsea W

    July 27, 2018 at 10:17 am

    I’m going to try this next time I’m out there. I have a sprint-distance tri in about 2 weeks and I’m way behind on getting ready for it because of those voices. When I do go out, it doesn’t feel like I’m doing something good for myself or even like an excuse to get away from my kids… It just feels like punishment. I’ll try changing my inner voice when I start to struggle. You always seem to know what I need!

  • Dana

    July 28, 2018 at 5:42 am

    I’m glad you recognized:

    “Maybe because I was out there running as punishment for how shitty of an athlete I felt I was today. Which is exactly why I did not need to be out there doing it. The motivation was wrong. I needed to correct it.”

    I thought the whole “saying something nice” was an interesting “punishment”. See I’d say “you CAT’T run or work out until you BELIEVE nice things”…running/working out is a treat, a privilege. Not everyone can. Not everyone has the health/ the luxury/ the time….I GET to workout. It’s not a punishment for bad behavior. To say the run ends when something appropriate (being nice to myself) happens implies it’s a thing I want to end.

    I battled a brain disease for about 18 months. I went from being able to go sub 13 at IMChoo to not being able to hold up a dress on a hanger without feeling worn out. I even actually forgot how to get out of my car one day. I was physically and mentally wrecked. I’m just over a year post treatment and I’m just now being able to complete workouts that used to be my warm up!

    I certainly have/have had that nag in my head. But I believe she’s a squatter. She doesn’t belong in my head. I’m not going to make nice with her, punish her until she confirms. When I recognize that she’s shown back up…I show her to the door. I don’t negotiate or placate or compromise with her. I remind her she is not welcome.

    Thank you for giving me a reminder of just how far I’ve come!!


  • Rebecca

    July 28, 2018 at 1:34 pm

    I wish I could go back and tell my younger self to have more fun. Finally,at 55 I have fun. I still compete against that little voice in my head. But now we can laugh together or even at each other. Go play ladies. Workout because it’s fun. Laugh when that run sucks or you are one push up short. Really. Laugh. Vow to get it another day, or not. Have fun. Enjoy your workout. If you don’t enjoy it, go do something else! There are a trillion ways to stay fit. Find one that makes you smile. Don’t swear a bad day at the gym or track or competition. At 55 you will wish you had spent more time laughing than cussing a slow finish. In fact you won’t remember those.

  • K Green

    July 28, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    All is see is that toes to bar looks pretty baddass to me! I maybe able to run (kind of) but wish I could get my feet up that high! You look super strong with the kettlebell and blisters are only a reminder of your hard work.

    Thank you for sharing your journey. We all struggle and you put into words what everyone feels at one point or another.

  • KP

    July 28, 2018 at 6:28 pm

    Thanks for sharing your journey from darkness and hate into self-love! We do all struggle, but seeing others triumph makes it easier for people to fight their own battles and win!

  • Irene

    July 29, 2018 at 10:30 am

    I found your blog after looking for a woman specific triathlon book on Goodreads. This being the first post I’ve read of yours. It matched so much with a woman who trains at my gyms post Ironman race update. It’s a great blessing to know we all battle inner mean girls. Thanks for sharing so honestly. I’m on my third round of becoming active in a four year period using the walk run style to start this time. Anyway, glad I found you.


  • Cheryl Lohman

    July 31, 2018 at 1:33 pm

    Thank you Meredith! I just finished a HIM with a horrendous walk. At mile 3 I was ready to quit but found a new friend who encouraged me to continue. My attitude was awful at that point. Attitude makes a huge difference. I love how you continued until your attitude changed positive.

  • Tebecca

    April 12, 2019 at 11:14 am

    I needed to read this today. This was so me this morning during my bike ride. I didnt push through and quit 50 min short of my required time on the bike. I will finish tonite but that is not the point.


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