At some point during half marathon or marathon training we inevitably doubt our ability to achieve the goal at some point or another. When we embark on any lengthy journey – whether it be weight loss, parenting, overcoming addiction, aspiring towards your dream job, or meeting a fitness goal – we encounter moments of self doubt.
Self doubt during training is an obstacle for every runner.
Whether you’re an elite or beginner runner, having feelings of self doubt at some point is inevitable. Putting in work every day starts to feel impossible when the goal is far off or you’re facing a plateau.
Striving towards a lofty goal is admirable. It’s exciting and motivating, sure. But what about those times when progress slows, we have a bad run, or keeping up with training feels too challenging? These struggles open the door for self doubt in our running abilities.
I am reaching that point in my marathon training where something that I do or something that happens could directly affect me on race day. Illness, injury, skipping a stretch, missing a run, and so many other things can go wrong. It’s easy to let the overwhelming nature of the “what ifs” get in my head and allow self doubt to take over while running.
Marathon training, like any journey towards a goal, is filled with ups and downs. We live for those moments of accomplishment – when everything seems to be going perfectly and we are right on track to hit our goal.
But at some point along the way, we are bound to stumble and begin to wonder whether or not our goal is achievable. These moments come and go, sometimes sticking around longer than others, but overcoming them is what determines our true character.
Overcoming self doubt on the run is no easy task.
I am a firm believer that everybody is capable of accomplishing their dreams. We have the power to control what our lives become. Setting your sights on a lofty goal, running or otherwise, is incredibly exciting. So why is it that so many give up halfway or fail to reach their goals?
They let self doubt in.
We each have many skills, talents, hobbies and interests that make us unique. We’ve discovered passions and experienced rejections, and throughout our journey we are blessed with the ability to change our circumstances. And in the darkest moments where we feel stuck and see no way out, we always have the power to change our mindset.
One of the things that keeps me coming back to marathon training again and again is that it teaches and reinforces two of the most valuable skills in life.
Patience and perseverance.
Marathon training is all about delayed gratification. We train for weeks and months on end, always hoping that the work we put in now will be worth it on race day. We slowly build up our mileage and increase our speed as we hope to see these improvements pay off. As we train away while patiently waiting for race day, we find ourselves conquering unpredictable challenges and stumbling upon unforeseen road blocks.
As physical as a marathon is, our mental strength is what sets us apart. The ability to persevere through these challenges will make or break us on race day. We have the choice to either give up when the going gets tough, or grow from our mistakes and learn from powering through them.
Setting out for a short, should-be-easy run, only to have it feel like a marathon in itself makes it easy for those feelings of doubt to creep back in. How can we run a marathon if this 3 mile run feels like a struggle?
If we let it, self doubt can destroy our running.
It only takes a few random thoughts to get in our head and make us doubt the past months of training. Facing self doubt is a battle that is inevitable.
So how do we overcome these feelings of self doubt on the run?
When you feel self doubt making an appearance, it’s time to focus on the big picture. Envision what it will feel like to accomplish your end goal, and remind yourself the progress you’ve made already. Take some time to look back to where you started and compare it to where you are now.
Every run isn’t going to feel like a party on the sidewalk. There will be highs and lows throughout training – just like life. Sometimes it will be tough to get motivated, run another mile, or get out there after a long day of work. You’ll doubt your ability to continue, feel a little purposeless, and want to give up. But those other times – the times when we feel on top of the world – are what make the fight worth it.
We learn something so valuable in each moment of self doubt.
When we choose to keep going, we are strengthening not just our bodies but our minds. We prove to ourselves how tough we are, and that no road block is going to get in our way.
When a road block changes our plans, we create a new path to get there. When we stumble upon something that really makes us question ourselves as a runner, it’s time to change our attitude and adjust the way we look at it. And when we find ourselves facing an obstacle from which it feels impossible to recover, we remind ourselves why we started running in the first place.
The progress we make comes from those moments where we grow and learn, not the moments when everything goes our way. Marathon training, along with any journey in life towards a goal, show us who we really are.
It is in the moments where the going gets tough that we discover what kind of a person we really are. Are we strong enough to make it through, or so weak that we crumble and give up? Maybe we give up for a moment, but then we pick ourselves up and have the courage to start all over again.
No matter where you are in your training, your journey, your progress – at some point you are going to doubt yourself. You’ll be faced head on with the opportunity to give up and say it was just impossible. Or, the opportunity to make something of the situation and prove that nothing can stop you.
Do you want to learn just how strong you are? Keep going, it will be worth it.
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