Thursday, 21 November 2013

Is your self-esteem connected to your running performance?

When I'm running well, and hitting the times that I want to be hitting, I feel like the sun is shining, things are going my way, and that generally, life is good. I have confidence as a worker and a mother and believe I'll have future success both in my athletic pursuits and also my non-athletic pursuits.

But when my running is not going how I want it to be, for example, I'm running slower than I was a few months ago, the world seems a much harder place! It's harder to sustain my motivation to run everyday, and also my motivation to do things like pitch articles, get out and take Henry on adventures, and the like.

I'm guessing I'm not alone in this. Once you start to consider yourself a "serious runner" - though this definition is not necessarily related to your speed - but rather, once running becomes part of your identity, it suddenly becomes important to be running well.

I met with the amazing 2.11 marathoner Joel Kemboi last week. He told me that if you are feeling positive in yourself, then it will flow into your muscles and you will run well in training. I decided to do a little experiment. By chance, the next day in training coach had me run a series of 1km efforts, of which I was a bit nervous about doing because I knew it was going to be a smash-fest.
However, I tried to keep in mind what Joel had told me. On my way to training and during the session I was trying to think positive thoughts.

Amazingly, despite feeling like I'm not in good shape, I ran my fastest 1km ever - 3.17. And I felt strong when I was doing it.
And because I perceived I'd run well that morning, I felt so happy all day. I felt like I could take on the world.

Of course, there are a number of issues with my ego being tied up in my running performance - particularly when at the end of the day, I'm not an elite athlete.

However, if it means that I'll forever identify myself as a runner, then on the balance it is something that I'm prepared to live with. After all, it is an addiction that keeps me fit, healthy and happy.

I think it's pertinent to remember this quote; 

Running is a lot like life. Only 10 percent of it is exciting; 90 percent of it is slog and drudge
- David Bedford, Amazing British Distance Runner.

My question for you is this: 

Is your running or cycling or other sport linked to your self-esteem? And then what do you do when you feel like your performance is not up to scratch?

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