Here is the truth: I am not as confident as I seem sometimes.
I try hard to be though, because I LOVE being strong and happy and I LOVE doing my best to lift others up. But every now and then, self doubt creeps in…especially with my running. While I love running, I would certainly not be described as a “natural runner”. Running is something I really have to work at and even my “best” is still considered “slow” to some. It never bothered me though because I always knew I was giving my best.
Lately though, with all the walking I have had to do, I have had negative thoughts try to creep into my head. When I look in the mirror at my body I think…
Good grief, there is no way my body will look the same ever again.
It cannot be possible that I will ever race with good times again.
If I can do it, will it take me a million years to get there?
There is no way these legs will EVER look as strong and as toned as they used to.
Can I even do this anymore? Should I even try?
And my favorite…
If all I’m doing these days is walking, can I still legitimately call myself a “runner”? AM I A FRAUD!?
It’s that last one that really gets to me. Am I…a…WALKER!? EGAD!
But you know what, I am determined to not let this temporary situation keep me from thinking I am any less of a runner. There are runners who have to sit on the sidelines all the time for days, weeks, even months at a time. They are still runners, and so am I.
A while back I got my husband a business book and it had a section about negative self-talk. While it was not specifically aimed at runners, it had a basic lesson that I think is totally applicable. It makes the analogy that letting negative, unconfident thoughts enter your brain is like allowing it to tune to a USUCK Radio station. What we need to do is the opposite. Tune into UROCK Radio and get grooving!
Finding your mental toughness and your UROCK Radio is hard. For some people, especially those just starting their running journeys or returning from a sabbatical, this may very well be a daily task. I have heralded the benefits of group/social running before as a way to find support, but you cannot rely on them 100% to keep you going.
There will be times when it is just you…staring down at your running shoes…needing a push…needing some motivation…and no one will be there. No one will be there to hold your hand. No one will be there to give you a pat on the back and say, “You can do it!” No one will be there at the end of the run to congratulate you. There will be no sweaty hugs or cheerleaders. Even worse, there may even be people telling you it is okay to quit…that it is okay to not try so hard…that it is no big deal to let yourself down and not reach your goals.
You will have to get out there and get the job done because YOU want it and YOU know you can do it. YOU have to have the gumption to reach over and turn off the USUCK Radio.
So how do you do that? How do you find your UROCK Radio?
Quit with all the self-limiting statements and questions. (I’m talking to myself here, too!) Stop adding question marks to the ends of your statements. Instead of thinking, “Can I do this?”…think, “I CAN DO THIS!”
Use less-harsh wording. For example, if you have a run that wasn’t your best, don’t get pissy and say, “That run sucked.” (I am so bad about saying that.) Instead, go with “Well, that obviously wasn’t my best. What can I do differently to give it my best next time?”
Write on your mirror. I am a dry-erase marker wielding monster. I leave notes all over my bathroom and dresser mirrors. I may or may not have drawn a little box on the mirror where my face goes with the phrase, “This is what a runner looks like.” over it.
Remind yourself what makes YOU feel good about running. If you are motivated by nice gear, pick up a new running singlet. If rockin’ tunes get you going, update your playlist. If weight loss or keeping weight off is your goal, put photos or your former self everywhere to keep you going. If you have a competitive spirit, find a race online you have never done before and sign up for it. Keep the routine fresh! Letting things go stale will only get you down.
Whatever you do, don’t think it is just you. Running is a relationship. Every runner (and walker) goes through peaks and valleys and we all struggle with negative self-talk sometimes. You just have to work through it.
What are YOU dealing with in your mental running game? Are you at a peak or at a valley? What do YOU do to push down the negative thoughts and bring up the positive ones?