For about ten years I really struggled with a voice inside my head telling me I wasn't good enough. Earlier this week I saw a post by Charlie Watson aka @therunnerbeans where she shared her concerns about whether she'll get a BQ in her marathon next year. My first thought was why is she spending time feeling like that and then I stopped. I realised that probably as recently as a year ago I would have been in exactly the same position. I would have a huge challenge or dream opportunity ahead of me and I would tell myself I couldn’t do it.
I would talk myself out of every opportunity that presented and convince myself that I wasn't good enough for any of them. I really believed that I didn't deserve good things that came my way and that I couldn't possibly do them even if I did try. What I didn't realise then was that I could and that by telling myself I couldn't I was only making the whole thing so much harder.
Then one day there was a turning point and I remember it so well. I was out for a run training for the London Marathon 2017. I had been gifted a place by KIND Snacks and I couldn't believe that a brand as huge as KIND had offered someone like me such a golden ticket. By the time I actually knew that I was running the marathon I only had about 3 months to train and my base running was nowhere near what it needed to be so I was immediately worried. Instead of logically working through where best to spend my time I jumped straight in to training trying not to worry. I was out on a run it was absolutely pouring down with rain and I was miserable. I was way off pace and a voice was going round in my head telling me I was ridiculous, that accepting a place for something so prestigious as the London Marathon for a huge US brand was a step too far and who did I think I was? I couldn't do it. I could never do this marathon. I was a joke. The voice of the mean girl in my head was getting louder as I got slower. Then it happened, I know exactly where I was as I shouted "ENOUGH".
A sharp inhale of breath.
I realised instantly that actually I was doing it. Although I was telling myself I couldn't. I was. Right there and then in that moment I was marathon training. I was out there in the pouring rain pounding the pavements and I was training. I was doing it because that's actually what marathon training is all about. Lots of people believe that training for a run or a sport is about the physical sessions, the hill sprints and the increased weekly mileage and it is in part. Yet focussing on that will only take you so far.
The thing you really need to train is your mind. You need the days when that voice in your head tells you that you can't because you need to practice telling yourself you can. It was out on that rainy run that I started saying I Can And I Am and it's become my mantra ever since.
There are times in life, and not just on a marathon course, when things get tough. Here’s 3 techniques I use to train positively:
1. Stop the negativity
The first thing to do is stop with the negative mindset. All of the thoughts around the negativity are valid, but totally unhelpful. If it helps then verbalize it, say out loud "not helpful" or "enough".
2. Visualise success
Whether it's getting a big break at work, reaching the summit of the mountain or finally getting that PB time. Visualise yourself actually achieving it. Not just the moment but everything about it. Who are you with? Have you got your friends around you? A guide, a coach? Someone pacing you to that PB? Now what do you need to do to really make that moment a reality?
3. Practice your mantra
The negative soundtrack won't stop instantly but you can make the process happen a lot quicker by replacing it with positive words. Tell yourself you can. Believe it, you can. When it comes down to it you have two choices. If you tell yourself you can't that's not going to help or create anything positive. By believing in yourself and telling yourself that you can you'll start behaving in a way which is synonymous with success. You'll still have to put the hard work in but you won't have an internal daily battle zapping your energy and demotivating you. You’ve got to start believing in yourself.
I'd love to know your thoughts on self-sabatage and your tools for overcoming it.