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Is Quitting Actually Self-Care?

We are always taught that quitting is a negative action. “Quitters never win and winners never quit”. This is what I was taught from birth, and I took it to heart. I have persevered through so much in life and refused to quit, from finishing my first triathlon despite having a severe panic attack in the water to completing my work through the worst of Crohn’s flares. I just don’t quit. I’ve also made perseverance a part of my personal brand. I often tell the story of my first triathlon; I had a severe panic attack during the swim and ended up the last out of the water. I still pushed forward, despite my tears and anxiety induced gasps, and finished the bike and run. I cried so hard and panicked so severely that I asked my husband to drive me home immediately, missing my 3rd place podium finish. Imagine my surprise when this weekend I made the decision to quit training for my marathon and transfer my registration from the Marine Corps Marathon to the Marine Corps 10k. I’ve had so many race deferrals sitting in my various race accounts from 2020 that I had to spreadsheet everything to remember what I was supposed to be training for. I knew that the Ironman races were not a possibility, that I could admit. My body isn’t recovered enough to do three sports. I can barely run. I did want to run my marathon though. Marine Corps Marathon is my favorite race, it’s a hometown marathon and run by the Marines so it doesn’t get much better for a runner. Unfortunately, I’m not fully recovered from the drug induced lupus and my fibromyalgia is so bad that I deal with daily pain. I told myself I would take it slow and try a run/walk method and finish those 26.2 miles in triumph. Saturday was my 5th bad run in a row. I could barely walk to finish my training run much less actually run it. The worst of my self-inflicted wounds weren’t physical, they were mental. Each bad run had me in tears, I would start listing everything that I could NOT do due to my disabilities and the drug reaction rather than what I’ve been able to accomplish despite them. My failed attempts at distance runs did more to destroy my mental health than the disabilities ever could. This is when I knew that quitting would be self-care. Why was that so difficult to admit? Why did it take me so long to finally realize that trying to be my former self was doing more harm than good?

I believe women are even less likely to admit when something needs to be let go (we are by nature very hard on ourselves) but honestly, this is a difficult concept for everyone. When I was in business school, I was taught that sunk cost would be the most difficult concept to learn and apply in the real world. You could have fooled me; I was certain the most difficult part of business school were the accounting courses. But they were right. Sunk cost is incredibly difficult in every aspect life, not just business. Making the decision to discontinue a program, investment, or effort that you have devoted time, money, and emotions to can be the most difficult decision you have to make. I invested my entire self-worth into being able to finish that marathon. That was the problem. My worth is not my ability to run fast. I put that in my own head. Continually failing at an activity that I know is not within my current abilities is the definition of toxic behavior. It was overdue time to admit that the marathon was a sunk cost. How many times in my life have I held on to something that was toxic; a job, a friend, a concept, that was doing me more harm than good? Maybe quitting isn’t always negative, maybe it can be self-care. Knowing when to let go of something that isn’t productive is important to business, it’s just as important in life. This weekend I decided to choose self-care, I’m going to work hard to finish the Marine Corps 10k and I’m very proud of myself for choosing my health, and quitting.

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