I don’t always enjoy running. I don’t always LOVE running. Sometimes I dread my runs.
Does that make me less of a runner?
I’m not fast. Running never feels effortless. I don’t have the body shape of a ‘runner’.
Does that mean I’m not a ‘real’ runner?
I went to the track in Barnes last week for my track workout, and managed to convince my Mum and stepdad (who I was staying with) to come with me. Turning up at the track, I was nervous. Not to complete my workout (1 mile warm up, 12 X 200m, 1 mile cool down), but because the track and other runners on the track can intimidate me.
I have imposter syndrome. Feeling like maybe I don’t belong on the track, in that marathon, at the running blogger event. That I shouldn’t be giving running advice to you lovely lot…
Imposter syndrome is defined as as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. It involves feeling of self-doubt, thinking you’re a fraud, perfectionism and lacking in self-confidence. And it’s not just with running that I feel like this.
I’ve chatted before about feeling embarrassed sometimes when I go to an event as a ‘fitness blogger’, that I don’t have a six pack or fit the typical fitness blogger brief. But when you get emails and comments from people telling you that you’re not fast and that sub 4 isn’t a good marathon time (I actually think any marathon time is awesome!), it can get to you a little bit.
I find myself underplaying my marathon and half marathon PB’s, caveating them, even though I’m really proud of my 3.38 and 1.40 times. I worked hard for them, and want to continue working hard to knock minutes off those times.
I read an article recently about how having imposter syndrome can hold you back from achieving your goals, of getting the jobs you want and having the life you deserve.
For me, it has me questioning my fitness, thinking on training runs that I’m breathing harder than I should be, that my ‘easy’ pace isn’t as easy as it should feel. It’s made me too embarrassed to join a proper running club, and nervous about joining a triathlon club to achieve my half ironman goals next year (although I know I need to when the time comes!). It makes me feel embarrassed when we turn up to park run and Tom jokingly says aloud that I’m a professional runner, so much so that I started right at the back and spent the first mile overtaking, dodging and waiting patiently for the end of the single file parts of the course.
I don’t think I’m alone in feeling like this, but I do wonder whether our social media society where we show off the best things, the holidays, workouts, outfits etc that it makes us feel inadequate compared to other people’s Instagram feeds. I often feel like a fraud posting my version of a hard workout, because maybe it’s not really that hard. Or perhaps I don’t deserve to be working on a brand campaign, maybe they made a mistake choosing me.
When I reach a PB, I break down every detail, wondering what I could have done differently, done better. I want to run faster next time. Similarly, when I achieve a goal, I immediately start wanting to work towards another. I don’t take the time to celebrate what I have achieved because I often don’t think it’s good enough or worthy of celebration. There are times that knocking 15 minutes off my marathon time feels nearly impossible, and I feel like I have so far to go. But I am determined that no matter how long it takes, I will run a BQ.
However, alongside this imposter syndrome when running, clocking up the miles also helps to improve self-confidence, makes me feel stronger and more empowered.
So I am trying to practise what I preach, telling myself the things that I would say to a fellow runner. Reminding myself that I run and therefore I’m a runner. That everyone has good and bad runs. That I’ve already knocked 65 minutes off my marathon time and 30 minutes off my half marathon time.
If you personally identify as a runner, then other will identify you as a runner (although having some race/running stash definitely helps!) Try talking to yourself as you would talk to your friends, to those around you in a race or training run. Be kind to yourself and believe in your ability and achievements.
And for a bit of body positivity, I love Dorothy Beal’s campaign to get everyone to feel like they have a runner’s body – check out the I Have a Runner’s Body Instagram account here.
P.S sharing some very real photos of my track workout taken by my Mum. They might not be flattering but they’re a true image of me at the track!