I’ve got a rather big event coming up in 3 weeks time – a half marathon in Hawaii. It’s big for lots of reasons:-
a) 21.1km is a looooong distance which I’ve never run before;
b) we’re flying a looooong way to get there (and have built our holiday around the fact I wanted to run it); and
c) I turn one of those big numbers shortly after the event and really, really wanted to finish a half marathon before this milestone birthday.
So what’s the problem? I’m starting to think I can’t do it.
My various injuries to my left leg which have plagued me since Easter are all now sending messages to me, both while running and while moving around the house. Sometimes they even send me little messages while I’m sitting down, perfectly still. Every twinge, tightness and tingle seems to be another mental tick on the ‘will not complete’ list.
As a result of my latest injury, a calf strain, I haven’t trained as much as I wanted to. The first 8 weeks of my training went brilliantly and I was on track (and improving) whereas the last 8 weeks have been sporadic, consisting of ‘gentle’ runs and of me being too scared to up the frequency for fear of aggravating my leg further. Now I am back to running a bit, I’m realising how much my fitness has suffered and I’m finding it hard to maintain the paces I was used to. As silly as it sounds, I feel like a fraud for being slow and undertrained and am worried someone might see me on the course and tell me I have no business attempting a half marathon. I did warn you – self doubt is insidious and leads to hugely irrational thoughts.
I’m also starting to have panics about the heat and humidity in Hawaii. Perhaps something I should have thought about before planning a holiday around it but I was won over by the romantic notion of running alongside the beach, being presented with a lei with my medal and relaxing in tropical bliss afterwards. It’s only now I’m starting to seriously doubt whether I’ll make it to the finishing line.
The rational part of my brain knows that these are all excuses. That I’ve completed things before which, at the time, seemed impossible and out of reach (the City2Sea being a good example). The time limit for the run is a generous one and I’m not out to beat any records, just to finish so, rationally, I know I can walk as much as I need to in order to finish. That the twinges I feel may be twinges but they may just be products of my overactive imagination. But self doubt doesn’t sit well with rationality and it feels a bit like a tug of war going on in my head.
At the end of the day, it’s that that’s keeping me going – working through all the positives, goals achieved and training I have done, rather than focusing on the things I can’t change. I’m also making peace with the idea that, on the day, I don’t actually have to compete if I decide it isn’t right for me at the time. That not completing one event is a small blip and not the big deal my ‘self doubt’ head wants to make it out to be. But, if I don’t run, it will be because it’s not the right thing/time, not because I feel like I can’t do it.
So, it’s over to you, blog readers. What do you do when self doubt creeps in and gets in the way of you achieving your goals? Any advice to help me put it all in perspective? What strategies and mantras do you use to push past it?