The biggest obstacle any endurance athlete faces is starting their workout...getting out the door, getting on the bike, getting into the pool, putting the weights on the bar and moving them. Once you've started, you've won the battle. You're doing it. You're more than half way there.
Now take the person who feels they do not succeed because they don't push. Naturally, once they get themselves started on a workout, the first thing they start doing is pushing. They believe their problem is they do not push so they work harder in order to correct their perceived deficiency. Unfortunately, this can be painful. The mind and body rebel. The next time this person is faced with the biggest obstacle of all...beginning the workout...the obstacle is even bigger because he or she remembers how unpleasant the last experience was.
The self-deprecating athlete pushes themselves harder in training but then ends up training less frequently because the experience is so unpleasant and it takes so long to recover from the punishment they inflicted on themselves. Because they train less, they lose fitness. They lose fitness and get more down on themselves and therefore push even harder in attempt to gain back what they've lost.
It becomes a vicious cycle.
If this is something you struggle with, here's what to do. Ease up on yourself. Put all your energy, all your fierceness, all your yang energy into getting yourself to begin the workout. Once you've started...relax. Go easy. Start much slower than you've been starting. Walk don't run...if that's what it takes to enjoy the workout. A little discomfort is OK. Pain is not OK.
What you need to develop is consistency. This is what will bring results. In order to do that, you need a gentle tenacity. Cultivate that attitude. Relentless...but soft.
This is how to get things done over the long haul...not just in running.