Maybe there are people who are “born with it”: that perfect trifecta of total running confidence, ability and passion for the sport. But I doubt it. The more runners I meet—from the most novice amateurs to seasoned elites—the more I have come to understand that, no matter how outwardly confident or gifted runners are, whatever confidence the vast majority of us possess comes with a heaping side of insecurity.
While running builds both mental and physical strength, the truth is that the sport can also trigger self-doubts—from body insecurities to critical comparisons of ourselves to other runners or to the runner we think we “should” be. If left unchecked, these insecurities can hold us back from everything that is good, positive and empowering about the sport. The question then becomes: Can we learn to be more confident runners? Yes, we can!
The truth is, the more you run, the more you will believe that you actually can run. The more hills you climb, the more miles you have under your feet, the more sucky runs you survive…the more confident you will be that you can do it all again. As you build the list of runs you’ve completed, call on the memories of all those successes and positive experiences to talk yourself down when your insecurities rise.
Never toed the starting line at a race? Find a friend who has raced before and go with her. Never before run on trails? Find someone who has and ask her to introduce you to trail running. Need a little running support? Find your tribe–be it running partners, a running club or a team. There is strength in community as you work together to build each other up and cheer each other on.
Run The Run You Need
Find what’s right for you. Follow your heart to the hills or to the pavement, to the track or to the treadmill. Find your groove, allow yourself to explore if your heart starts to pull you in another direction, but always run the run that is right for you. It’s there that you’ll feel centered and confident.
Own The “Runner” Label
If you lace up your shoes and run, you are a runner. You decided to do what was hard. And then you decided to do it again, and again. It doesn’t matter what your age, weight or experience level is. Have confidence in the fact that You. Did. It. You decided to do something that can be hard and uncomfortable, because you also know that it can be exhilarating and freeing and fulfilling. And nothing–not even those inner doubts–can take that accomplishment away from you.
Most important, be confident in the knowledge that you are stronger than you think you are. You are stronger than those insecurities. Make it your mantra. Repeat it often.
Elizabeth Ewens juggles life as an attorney, author, wife, mom and runner and proudly finished her first NYC Marathon in 2015 and her first Chicago Marathon in 2016. You can read more about her journey at midliferun.today and follow her on twitter @elizabeth_ewens or on Instagram @eewens.