I have a problem when I run. It's my head. Well my mind, thoughts and thinking processes to be exact. They sabotage me. When I train, I'm strong and brilliant. I can run for ages, without a care, (or shoes), I can tackle anything. I visualize myself finishing exciting runs, feeling pleased with myself and making my family and friends proud of me.
Then it comes to the event. Niggling doubts creep in at the start line. 'I haven't trained enough... what if I'm last?... Or worse, don't finish?... I don't really deserve to be here... I'm not fast enough, strong enough, disciplined enough, I'm only a girl, I'm too old, I don't even have proper shoes'
I push them all aside and smile, joke and laugh with everyone else. What an adventure we're all going on here, off to the known and unknown in ourselves and surrounding countryside. I look around me and see people who look like me, bright and enthusiastic, sure of themselves and their abilities.
Truly I have none of that. Within the first 2-3km I'm already fighting my own head. I wasn't raised to have self doubt like this. My parents taught me that I could do ANYTHING I wanted. We are not a 'sit back and take it' kind of family. We go out and get it, whatever 'it' is. One difference remains though, and that is this.
As a small child, and even not so small a child, I was no good at sport. I mean hopeless, uncoordinated, slow, clumsy and illshaped for any type of sport. And those few negative comments from unthinking people grew into a general air of 'Oh well, you can't be good at everything' sense about me. I was a straight A's student, so who could really expect me to be good at sport too? Truthfully, I would love to have been at least average at one sport. But I listened to the wise older voices telling me not to bother.
Not until I had my fourth child, and was craving some kind of alone time, did I venture into the world of physical activity. The gym, on advice of my brother, who cared for my kids while I went to the gym when from time to time, was were I began. I started walking on the treadmill and then running. Eventually I went outside and ran in a real event. A whole 4km! I finished, and was elated. As if I had won. But then the negative voices spoke again. “you didn't win” “you were too slow” “you can't be good at sport” ......
I have run for several years now, with this nagging in my head. I SAY I run for myself, but I want others to be proud of me. I want to be proud of myself too. Six Foot Track 2010 has bought this all to a head. I have to find a way to silence the inner critic I have allowed to grow to gigantic proportions. So large, that a panic attack was the only way my head could stop my body from moving forward to another mediocre performance. Another DNF. Another failure.
Olympic material I'm not, but a half decent ultra marathon, recreational runner I can be. And as long as running stupidly long distances makes me happy, then that's what I intend to do. To be my best. Not someone else's best. And not a second grade version of own abilities, but MY best.
This journey has become about more than just the run, I'm running to discover me, whoever that is.