On Self-Doubt

12 Aug

I have a confession to make.  I left the Great Race running clinic feeling very discouraged.  Despite having bought new running shoes afterwards, which should have made me the happiest girl in the world, I literally boycotted running for a week.  Not cool.

So, what happened?

At the clinic, I felt like an imposter.  The whole “I run, therefore I am a runner,” thing – I get it.  And most days I own that.  But seeing all of the other runners at the clinic kind of took me back to the feelings of inadequacy I had throughout high school and college.  That version of myself was lazy, overweight, inactive, non-athletic.  The people around me at the clinic were athletes.  They were runners.  I was an imposter, wandering around amongst them, trying to lay low and sneak back out to my car before they figured out that I shouldn’t be there.

At 29 years old, you’d think I wouldn’t let that little voice in my head break me down.  But there she was, louder than ever.  And I listened to her when she told me that I will never be the runner that I want to be.  I thought over and over again about all of the flaws I have in my running form and felt embarrassed, silly for thinking of myself as an actual, real runner.  How silly I must look with my horrible form and my not-even-running shoes.  Last week I blogged less, I ran not at all, I ate all of the things, and I felt like crap about all of it.

Christina was out of town Saturday night – Sunday, which left me alone with my thoughts, a pint of ice cream, and Lifetime Movie Network.  Normally, that combination is a recipe for emotional disaster but I’m really not the person that I used to be.  Yet another one of life’s lessons right in front of my face, so blatant that I couldn’t even see it.

“Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.” – Oprah Winfrey

I read that quote out loud and said: I know that’s right, girl.  Then I sat there lost in my thoughts for a few minutes and let it really sink in:  No, really.  She’s completely right.  I can either keep feeling sorry for myself because I haven’t seen the progress that I wanted OR I can accept the fact that I haven’t worked hard enough to earn that progress.

I run, therefore I am a runner.  The kind of runner I am is dependent on me.  My form, my endurance, my determination; those are all things that are dependent on me.  Just me.  I desperately want to lace up my shoes, walk out the door, and run for miles and miles.  I’ve never wanted anything so badly in my life.  But that doesn’t happen, not just because I wish for it anyway.  Running is slow progress, it’s pushing through shin splints and blisters, it’s talking yourself out of taking yet another walking break, it’s lacing up my shoes even though I’d rather slip back into a dream, it’s feeling exhausted but running anyway.  There’s no finish line, no people cheering, no water stations, no bathrooms, no medals.  Really there’s just me and my shoes on the pavement, with music in my ears pushing me to go harder, sometimes joined by a poodle who finds intrepid joy in this simple act of moving forward.

I love running, even though sometimes I find myself talking about it like a burden or a chore.  I started this journey for one simple reason: to improve my self.  Running is like life – I can say I want to be more determined, more motivated, more hard-working, insert whatever here.  Without action, those are just wishes, as fleeting as the wishes lost on so many birthday candles.  Those wishes become goals when I actually start working towards them.  Running has shown me that I will never reach my goal unless I give it 115%.  And then a little more after that.  This weekend I realized that I have to stop thinking about running like a backpack full of boulders, this thing I carry around with me that weighs me down with self doubt and guilt.  Running is a lesson.  And when I stop being afraid to learn it, then I will be a runner.

7 Responses to “On Self-Doubt”

  1. Kristy @PghRunner.com at 10:17 pm #

    No! Reading the beginning of this made me very sad. You got it right at the end. You ARE a runner, and don’t let anyone or anything, make you question that. You can run any race or distance that you want to.

    I’m not a big Oprah fan, but look at what she did. She was a self proclaimed non-runner, she decided she wanted to run a marathon, and she did. She had a great finishing time too. And I love her quote: “Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.” It’s so true.

    Keep running and be proud!

    • SOLEfortheSoul at 10:31 pm #

      Thanks girl! I know I just need to keep going and stay positive 🙂

  2. hawkeyeinkc at 7:17 pm #

    We all have those moments of self-doubt. What’s amazing about running is that it’s more mental than physical. Physically your body can do the work. With continued training, your body will get stronger and faster. The hardest part of the body to train is the mind. To break through those mental blocks. Instead of saying “I can’t” or “There’s no way I could run that far/that fast” you have to say “I can do more” whether that’s 5 more minutes, 5 more feet or 5 seconds faster the trick is to always do more when your head is telling you that you can’t.

    When I was in my 20’s I ran around a 10 min mile. No matter what I did or thought I was doing to improve, my time never changed. I’m now 42 and over this past summer I have shaved almost 2 mins off my average pace. Don’t quit! Even if you don’t see the changes you want to see, you’re body IS changing. Stay with it and push through those mental blocks!

    • SOLEfortheSoul at 7:19 pm #

      Thanks for the advice! My issue is totally mental – I psych myself out constantly. I have to believe in myself 🙂

  3. Cassie at 8:46 pm #

    I love this. I’m an occasional runner, but still a runner. Sometimes when I’m feeling really crappy and full of self-doubt, I just take that and pound the pavement.

    • SOLEfortheSoul at 8:53 pm #

      It’s so cathartic. That’s why I think I started running to begin with…nothing else was cutting it anymore! Thanks for the comment 🙂


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