Take a walk break, if you need it.
A friend who recently took up running posted on Facebook about the transition from her winter treadmill workout to running outside. She said the biggest change was the fact that she was now in public, and poked fun at herself good-humoredly about the fact that she felt compelled not to take walk breaks so that passing cars would think she was fitter than she really was. I'm not gonna lie- I have definitely done the same thing, and even viewed it as a little extra motivation to keep going. However, I don't know where we get this idea that our efforts are not good enough unless we run “the whole time” and her post really lingered in my mind. Why are we so hard on ourselves?
I finally was able to lose this nagging voice in my own head when a trainer I was working with prescribed workouts where I had to do small walk, run and sprint intervals. As cars drove by, I felt like they were judging me, but I did what was assigned regardless. After a little while, I stopped caring, or even thinking about the passing drivers. After all- those people were sitting in their cars! If they were passing judgement (which was pretty doubtful), clearly I was doing more than they were anyways, not to mention I was taking the walk breaks for a reason.
As the pressure faded away, it got me thinking about how silly it actually was to actually have paid any attention to it in the first place. How wise it is to increase the intensity my workout based on assumptions of what random strangers may or may not be thinking of me? The passers-by don't know if you are a brand new runner, or a marathoner who just did a 15 mile run yesterday and today is an easy day. They don't know if you are recovering from an injury, or maybe have a bad knee. They don't know if you are on mile one, or mile twelve. Maybe those walk breaks make it possible for you to do a 40 minute workout, when running non-stop you could only sustain 20 minutes. Why would we ever make decisions on what is best for our body or our workout based on someone else's judgement that hasn't even been voiced? Oh, and by the way- they are probably not even thinking about you!
So why am I telling you about the internal dialogue I have while running? Because this applies to everything, not just running. We feel pressure (real or perceived) in many different parts of our lives. We make decisions on really important things that shape our lives based on people's expectations of what we “should” do, or what success is, when we really should be listening to our own internal signals. People cave to pressure when making huge life decisions like career moves, marriage, and even having children. When I first made Design Half Full my full time gig, I obsessively read books, blogs and listened to podcasts to find out the "right" way to be an entrepreneur. But the best lessons have been life experience: interactions with clients, observing other professionals, things that went right, things that went wrong. There is no guide or textbook that will spell everything out and work across the board for everyone. Sometimes we need to figure out what's going to work best for us, and to do so, it's best to ignore those pressures and really listen to our gut. (Especially when those pressures are most likely fabrications of our minds!)
Only you have all the details needed to make the decisions that will lead to your success. Other people can give you advice (which may very well be good), but it's up to you to decide whether or not it works for you. Listening to your own needs will lead you on the path that is best for you, so let go of external pressure and take that walk break if you need it!