I often get the impression that people assume that because I am pretty positive, I don’t deal with doubts when it comes to my running and racing. The truth is, nothing could be further from the truth. I struggle with mental doubts often but try to be as positive as I can in dealing with them. I went through a period of some doubts a couple of weeks and thought I would share how I got myself over that hump. I wrote about this about six months ago here but wanted to share a bit of a different perspective.
As I drew closer to the marathon, I started to have a few doubts – can I run a good marathon, what if I’m just meant to do half marathons and shorter distances and I won’t be able to conquer the marathon, what would it mean if I did not reach my goal, etc.? All these doubts and all these questions. I did three things to help me get my focus and confidence back.
- Stop the negative talk and replace it with truth. This seems basic, but I found it more challenging than I expected. How this worked – when I had a thought like “what if I am just not meant to run a good marathon?” I asked myself what evidence did I have that the statement was true. I examined it like I would any other factual claim – in this case, I put my marathons where I did not train using Hansons aside, because I acknowledge that I was pretty undertrained when I ran those races. That leaves Chicago as a fact to examine. Chicago was not perfect, but I have to look at the fact that I was on track to run in the 4:10-4:15 range. I ran 20 miles in 3 hours and 14 minutes and feel pretty confident that if I had not messed up my fueling royally, I would have run an even larger PR than I was able to squeak out. Going through that thought process helped me to realize that, yes, I made a mistake in Chicago but that mistake does NOT mean that I am doomed to always run a crappy marathon. The truth is that I am well trained and absolutely have the ability to hit my goal.
- I shared my doubts with people who support me and understand my running. I am fortunate to have an expansive community of running friends who know me well and are excellent supports. Sharing my (silly but valid) doubts with them and getting positive reinforcement always helps me to get out of my own head.
- I read back over the work that I have done. This always helps me refocus. Reading my training recaps and reliving the hard workouts helps me to remember everything I have done to get ready for the race and helps me to feel confident. This is why I recommend keeping some kind of training journal. This also helps me to recall during races the work I have put in. For example, when I get to 16 in the marathon, I know I will say to myself “okay, just a ten mile tempo. I know I can do that, so here we go.” It is very mental at that point so this all works together to help me get over those doubts!
How do you manage any race doubts that you have?