“I can’t do this.” “This is too hard.” “I suck.”
We all participate in this self-talk all day, every day and one of the things I have noticed over the years is the amount of negative self-talk that takes place within our heads without us even realizing it. The negative self-talk has simply become a habit while the other more important but harder to accomplish option, positive self-talk, is left by the wayside. I bring this up because it’s the negative self-talk, which leads to self-doubt that inhibits us from truly seeing our potential. I have two examples of self-doubt that have occurred this week and how I overcame them.
The first one is in regards to my half-marathon on May 24th. The closer I get to the race, the longer my runs get and the more time I have to think and this past weekend I thought a lot about the goal I have set for myself and if I can accomplish it. On my 10 mile run on Sunday I began to doubt myself a little bit on my ability to reach my goal of running the half in 1:45:00. I embarked on this 10 miles of glorious fun with a positive attitude and had a goal of accomplishing it at the same pace that I ran my 9 miles the prior weekend which was an 8:35 pace. Within 5 minutes my legs felt like shit and I imagined them being an elephant’s legs trudging through mud. Not the best mental picture at the time and I kind of wanted to call it quits. I kept thinking that there is no way I am going to finish the half-marathon in 1:45:00, no way in hell. I recognized that there was a lot of negativity and self-doubt going on in my mind so I simply started reciting my affirmations.
“I am strong, I am fast, I am light as a feather, I am crushing this run, I love running, I love running, I love running, just keep running, just keep running.”(Sound like Nemo?) I did this for 1 hour 25 minutes and 41 seconds with an average pace of 8:33 per mile.
I spent that amount of time pushing negativity out of my mind and replacing it with positive self-talk. I don’t know which was harder, the run or the self-talk. But when all was said and done, I did it. I ran the pace I wanted to run even with the self-doubt at the beginning. Now imagine what I could have accomplished if there had been only positive self-talk.
The second example is in regards to my steady state run yesterday at an 8:20 pace for 3.5 miles which was .5 mile longer than last week. Again my legs felt like an elephants except this time it was within 30 seconds. I had absolutely no confidence that I would be able to finish the run (it was on the treadmill) at that pace for 3.5 miles. I kept thinking how easy last week felt at that pace for 3 miles and wondering why this week was so hard. Then the big question came to mind. How the F am I going to run for 13.1 miles at 20-30s faster per mile????
And then all this, “I need to stop. I’m going to stop at each mile. I can’t do this. My legs are so heavy. Fuck.” Over and over and over again. At the same time however, I kept telling myself to go a little bit further and that I could rest in a half more mile. Just keep going. Step by step. Towards the end I even started talking out loud to myself. “Come on Kara. You can do this! You got this!” And you know what? I did. I didn’t stop. I didn’t slow down. I did it. I ran those 3.5 miles at that 8:20 pace.
No matter how badly I wanted to stop because I felt like shit, I kept reminding myself not only of my goal but also that I better get used to this feeling because come close to the end of the race, I will more than likely feel like that and if I don’t, it means I didn’t run hard enough. I even went so far as to ask myself what the point of stopping would be considering I don’t plan on stopping until I cross the finish line. The 10 second reprieve or less of resting during that treadmill run wasn’t worth it to me so I just kept going. I leave myself no choice but to accomplish my goals leading up to the race but most importantly my goal of 1:45:00 in the race.
Why leave anything to chance? If I constantly go around thinking anything other than that I WILL finish in 1:45:00 or less, I simply won’t accomplish it. Now right after saying that I have to be 100% honest with you and I know this contradicts what I just said but bear with me for a second. Are there moments where I question my decision to make my goal based off of my time from 2 years ago when I had been running longer? Yes, there are, especially because I am talking about it constantly and sharing it with all of you. And because of all this chatter about it, what happens if I don’t accomplish it? Embarrassment? Feelings of failure? But the second those thoughts comes to mind, I simply push them away and visualize myself finishing in 1:45:00 (there’s a reason I keep writing it). I think about finishing it in 1:45:00 all day, every day. I tell myself all day long I will do this and that I am doing it.
This is the thing, if you’re going to think something about your goals and your progress and you’re going to think about it A LOT, make it positive. When you set these goals, did you have doubt that you could accomplish them? You should be setting goals you believe you can accomplish, that’s why you set them. Believe in there only being one option because YOU make that choice. Like I said in my last post, set a goal, create a plan and stick to the plan. I think about my half-marathon all day, every day. If you truly want to accomplish something, live, eat and breathe your goal. Make it a part of you and you might find it easier to stick with it when the journey gets a little hard.
One of the things that has really helped me that I mentioned earlier was affirmations. I can’t stress enough the importance of these. Choose 3 positive things to say to yourself when the going gets tough. Believe in yourself. I do.
“I am strong.”
“I am fast.”
“I am doing this.”
I find that saying “I am” is more effective than “I will”. Just keeping it in the present. 😉
(I made that really big for a reason)