Can I do this? This is a question asked over and over in my head. Before the first 5k then a couple of months later at the first 10k. The next 3 months were filled with questions, uncertainty and self-doubt. Pulled that ½ marathon off without a problem and a year later the first full 26.2 mile Marathon. Serious doubts plagued my mind for over a year before finishing a 50k. Even now, before any event from a 5k to 50k, the butterflies are there and doubt rears its ugly head. I don't know why this happens but it does.
For the most part I have a VERY healthy self-esteem that can easily be perceived as arrogance and borders on narcissism at times. Thankfully I have those “voices” to even things out. For every vote of confidence there is also one that tells me I have under-trained, am untalented, fat, lazy, not mentally or physically tough enough and just plain stupid for thinking I will even finish. I love these guys. For the most part they are right. I usually am under-trained, far less talented than the “elite” class of runners, could stand to lose a few lbs, do have trouble pushing myself when it gets hard, could certainly benefit from some serious training and do have a tendency to jump in above my head sometimes. Thank God for the rest of the “crew”. They always let me know that failure is not part of the plan and we will, somehow, pull it off.
Psychological, environmental and spiritual factors all play a major role in every challenge. Every time I get down on myself and question my abilities or training, I manage to pull through by drawing on memories of things accomplished. Some go waaaay back to my childhood, others to my days in the Marine Corps and some are from my relatively short running “life”. Everything boils down to where a person has been, where they come from and what they have overcome. Sometimes desire to finish will outweigh training and natural talent.
Of course these things only extend so far. I KNOW for a fact that I am a mediocre runner at best, with a slim shot at winning an age group award but will never end up on the podium with a gold medal. This is a fair and honest assessment that does not drag me down but, rather, lifts me up and helps to set “realistic” goals for each endeavor. KNOWING that I will not win really puts things in perspective and helps bring my desire to “compete” with myself to the front. No amount of mental toughness or prayers will change these FACTS.
These FACTS do provide a mental boost to my training. Knowing my own limitations, as far as being a “true” competitor, allows me to train within the psychological, environmental and spiritual boundaries of my “real” life. It also makes it easy to finish what I start which, after all, is the real reason to jump into these events that always seem beyond my reach. I love the war between cockiness and doubt that wages in my head. Both are good and both have their place. I really believe that one without the other would only lead to complete and utter failure.
So the answer to the question, can I do this? Well, at the risk of sounding arrogant, HELL YEAH!! (Maybe)
This is how it works-
I love to run but there are times when I would rather not. This is when the voices start. Chants, name calling, guilt and reverse psychology is how they get me up and out the door. I don't really mind the voices and have actually started looking forward to their daily calls. Together we have formed a running club that supports, encourages and competes with each other. I love these peeps. They are much more experienced, talented and tougher than I am. Pushing me out the door, through the hard miles and up the monster hills when I am feeling lazy or want to give up. Some people have "real" training partners, coaches and support crews. My team is ALWAYS with me and helps me to keep my eye on the prize and not veer off the track. Sounds crazy- Yeah, probably is.........