A couple of days ago, I wrote about my not-so-great run at the Manitoba Marathon. Even though I wasn’t planning on running a fast race and even though I wasn’t planning on timing myself, the thought was never so far in the back of my mind that I never thought about it. Kinda like the bag of vegan chocolate chips beside me right now. I’m not planning on eating the entire bag but that doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about doing it.
The truth is, part of me was really hoping that I would do well and part of me is disappointed that I fell short of a goal.
Thankfully, part of me is just that: part. The rest of me has been thinking about other aspects of the race and how things really went. I’ve talked a few times in recent months about the mental game that you play when you decide to take part in endurance running. Half the battle is the physical training and the other half is the mental training. I’d done the physical training but I always struggled with the mental aspect of the sport. Mostly because I have trouble getting myself out of the comparison trap. In my mind, I don’t measure up to the elite title of calling myself a runner. I’m far from athlete material and my journey is hardly inspirational enough to graze the covers of any running magazines, let alone be considered a role model for other women out there. I would often go through a race feeling like a failure because no matter how hard I tried, I was just not good enough and likely never would be.
I think a few of you are probably nodding your heads in understanding right now.
Here’s the thing…those thoughts are real. Those feelings are real. They are. We feel them, we breathe them and we express them. We believe the negativity and walk with our shoulders hunched and eyes downcast because those thoughts make us feel ashamed and inferior.
Here’s the reality…real as they are, those thoughts are not the truth. Not by a long shot.
The truth is: I AM a runner. I AM an athlete. I AM good enough because I AM me.
By the time I hit mile 5 on Sunday, I was ready to give up. I could have walked off the course, gone home and not cared. In that moment, I was believing everything negative thought in my head.
I could have chosen to walk away but I chose to fight through those last 8 miles. I chose to push through the pain, the fatigue, and all the self-doubt and cross that finish line with a smile (or an attempt at a smile…it probably looked more like a pained grimace). It was far from my best race in terms of time but I PR’d the mental half marathon I ran that day in a huge way. For me, it was the best race I’ve ever run.
Through the last 6 weeks or so, I’ve been involved in the What’s Beautiful campaign as both a sponsor of Under Armour and FitFluential and as a participant in my own personal goals. I’ve been inspired to no end by the strength and resiliency of the women involved and also extremely proud to be a part of a movement that celebrates women in such an amazing way. I think that I speak for more than just myself when I say that this campaign has been about so much more than a goal and the chance at winning some awesome swag from UA (though swag is never a bad thing).
I’ve really come to accept that my perceived inadequacies as an athlete are a figment of my inner demons and not a product of reality. I’ve learned that though my goals may be small by comparison and my journey meek in the grand scheme of things, it is no less significant in the story of my life. I’ve understood that success isn’t based on winning medals, accolades and features in national magazines but that success is achieving today was I was unable to do yesterday and not giving up on myself even when I’m walking my path alone. And believe me when I say that I have walked a lot of it in isolation.
Do I still dream of these things? Of course! Do I hold these dreams close to my heart? Yes, I do. Do I define myself as a person, athlete and runner based on whether I achieve them? Not anymore. The fact is, I will likely never be able to cross Runner’s World Cover girl, Under Armour Ambassador or Boston Qualifier off my bucket list, but the reality is that I don’t consider myself any less of an athlete because of it.