Confidence, Contradictions and Clarity

Confidence, Contradictions and Clarity

Until now, you may have been feeling that you generally enjoy your running, you enjoy being able to pull something special out of the bag every now and again and achieve something great. You may feel that marathon training is starting to get you down, that is understandable as it is one heck of a massive challenge. A challenge that only 3% of the country have done. So, you are taking on board a challenge that 97% of the country can’t, won’t or haven’t done – you are already in the elite 3% of the country just by running a marathon!

It is a difficult challenge that causes people to wobble in their training, causes self-doubt and upsets confidence and puts a big strain on your life trying to plan training runs around the rest of your life. Most folk find that very difficult and trying to combine that with everyday life is undeniably hard – so you and I are not alone in going through that difficulty. We generally come across two different ways of thinking about our running when things start getting tough for us. Here is my take on it from my experience:

Demons planting seeds of doubt

26.2 miles?? But that’s the equivalent of Wakefield to York. You want me to run that? But that would take forever!

Forever? It takes an hour by car! How can someone like me run that kind of distance? It will take me all day.

All day? But I just can’t run as fast as I could earlier in the year, how can I keep a pace up to get me there quicker? I’d have to keep running all the way.

I can’t run the whole of a 10k or a Half Marathon at the moment so how can I keep going after I feel the need to walk?


Walking? That’s a good idea, that’s so much easier now. I should plan to build in walking spells during the distance.

Plan? But then again I can’t stick to a plan anymore, too many excuses and reasons not to go faster than I do.

Go faster? I wish, speed seems such a long time ago, I remember when I used to be a lot faster when I was running more often too.

Running more often? Again, I wish, I can’t run as often any more due to all the recovery and rest days.

Voice of experience

I know I can run, I know I can run pretty well on my day, I know I can chalk up some fairly decent times when I prepare well, more so when my head is in the right place.

can do long distances – I’ve done Leeds to Wakefield after work one day, an 18 miler, the Great North Run, and even a 19 miler – three of those runs I was running on my own too.

I know that I can work hard and put in lots of miles. I’m not a lazy person when it comes to running.

Every new challenge is going to be hard, that’s why it is a challenge, I shouldn’t expect it to be easy.

I’m not fearful of other races when I used to be scared of those distances. 21 months ago, I was petrified at the thought of doing a 5km with other people around. I am much more experienced now. This is just the next one on the list.

In all the step ups in distances to date, 0-5km, 5km-10km, 10km-10 mile, 10mile to HM, HM to 16m, 18m, 19m, etc, I’ve not failed in any of those new distance challenges yet.

Running is 10% physical, 80% mental and 10% cliché inducing statistic writing…

Many runners have doubts and fears and get spooked by many different aspects of marathon training. They will come up with any number of reasons why they feel they aren’t up to standard, why they can’t do it, how they aren’t fast enough, how that person is breezing through it but how I am struggling, and why it is such a very hard thing to be doing.

Yep – that’s right. It’s not a load of old cobblers, it is very hard, it is something that will challenge you mentally as well as physically. It will push you more than your first 5k did, it will make you doubt yourself more than your first 10k did, it will make you wonder how much longer you have to go on running – more than your first half marathon did. It’s not easy, it’s blooming hard. No one sane should ever disagree with that.

I find that my mind is being pushed and pulled all over the place during my marathon training, and it scares the beejeezus out of me how different it is to be doing so much all the time than how things were earlier in the year, banging out 5k and 10k with relative ease whilst still working hard – but from a fresh starting position.

3 C’s – Confidence, Contradictions and Clarity

After thinking about this a lot, I have put this all down to 3 C’s – Confidence, Contradictions and Clarity. (All good presentations have 3 points to remember!)

Listening to your voice of experience and repeating those points to yourself about how far you have come will start building up your confidence banks to help you realise that you aren’t doing badly, you are ticking over fine, and that you still have more to give. CONFIDENCE – Theodore Roosevelt (26th President of USA) said “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” – You CAN do it if you believe in yourself. List all your achievements to date to see that.

The demons that plant seeds of doubt are the same demons that stop some folk from achieving anything special in life. They specialise in trying to get you to believe that you aren’t able to do something, and that you can think of another reason why NOT to do something. But these are often the same points that can be your drivers to success. Referring back to your voice of experience will shut most of those up, they are mostly CONTRADICTIONS to what you already know. You know the answers to most things thrown at you but because you are finding it tough find it hard to put them into action. Yet, you still got to this point – you’ve obviously come a long way to get to where you are now. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (author of Faust) said “What we agree with leaves us inactive, but contradiction makes us productive.” – Basically by being contradicted, we can become ready to fight against what we know is wrong. Those demons are wrong, you know it really. Let’s show them who is right.

With all these thoughts and feelings flying around in our heads, it is no wonder we are getting all mixed up and struggling with things. The airwaves are too distorted when we need to keep a clear signal coming through of CLARITY. Focussing on what you want to achieve is the only way champions do what they do time after time. Ability gets you so far, but attitude and focus are equally important. Banishing most of the doubts and contradictions out of the way will bring this clarity. Be clear about one thing, you are in charge of you and your performance. You have come so far already, you can control what you want to achieve next. You control those demons and put them in their place., use your voice of experience to shut them up, and focus on going out there are doing the very best you know you can do.

Go, get out there and achieve great things! You’re more awesome than you realise.

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