The majority of women who are reading this article probably don’t think that they are any good at running, or that they could be better, or faster or fitter, or that they don’t belong in the running scene, or that they are some kind of imposter that calls themselves a runner. Well I am here to tell you that times have changed my friends, and you most certainly DO belong here.
I have been there…..lining up on the start line surrounded by egoed-up men and women and felt completely out of my depth and wondered what the hell I am doing there, but over time I have come to love the me who runs the trails and roads, and worry less about wether or not I should be there amongst the crowd or not.
You see, running helped me find me….it taught me many many things about myself. Firstly that when you find your passion, you can achieve great things with the right work ethic and support. It also taught me that there was a village out there that once connected to, I would never ever have to go it alone. Even when I am alone, racing and in the thick of an event I draw on the strength and knowledge that I have gained from my tribe, and I use this to catapult myself to the finish line. Without it I doubt that I would have as near as much personal success as I have had and that I would have kept going.
You may be the woman who was running along the street today and someone called out to you “stop running, you fat *&_%@”, or someone at your work looked at you like you had two heads when you said that you run marathons, and they couldn’t believe that YOU could actually be the type of girl to do that….that would be the young skinny fit looking girl right?….well girl, you are here to change the mindset of thousands of people out there who want to tear down your dreams in the process of making themselves feel better. Because when we see people just like us doing what we are doing, we feel surrounded, we give them a virtual high-five, or even a literal one if we are running by them, and we know that because they got out there, we will too. We are in it together, we know what it takes, and we know why we do it. Everyone has their reasons.
This snowball effect has much more impact than what you may realise. More women are running now than ever before, and more women have started on the journey because they saw you do it first. This is no accident, this is how we will change our world by leading by example and showing people that you don’t have to be the best, you just have to have a go.
An imposter by definition is “a person who pretends to be someone else in order to deceive others, especially for fraudulent gain.” I certainly don’t see you as an imposter when I’m running along side thousands of other women just like me on race day, do you? So why do we beat ourselves up about it and stop ourselves from reaching our potential by letting this imposter complex in? Here are some tips to make sure that you keep that imposter complex at bay.
Find your tribe.
You are more likely to keep at it and gain a sense of belonging and community by finding people that are wanting to achieve the same things to train with. RMA is a great place to find that girl gang. Local girls that you can learn from, laugh with, plan and achieve things with together. You are much less likely to have the battle with your head that says that you don’t belong, or that you can’t do this or that if you are surrounded and supported. On top of this you can learn a great deal from others, and pass that knowledge on. Harness that and get out there sharing the journey together.
Keep a journal of your achievements and plans
By keeping a record of your goals and achievements you can look back and see just how far you have come and just where you want to go. This will help you set some new goals, or help you know where you might need to focus coming into the next training block. You can write down your thoughts and feelings about your sessions and events, lessons you have learned and adventures you want to embark on into the future. This helps to set realistic expectations ahead and celebrate your successes along the way.
Positive self talk
You need to tell yourself that you belong here. That you deserve to be here. That all the training or hard work is worth it, or that the adventure ahead with your tribe at XYZ event is celebration-worthy because of the experience you are about to embark on together. Whatever it is, tell yourself that you have it covered. That you will love or learn from every single step.
Being brave is a big step. Some things are huge challenges. It could be running your first parkrun, your first trail run, or marathon or ultra. It could be running your very first step. Whatever it is, be brave. Put on your warrior woman stance and get out there and have a go. Who could you really disappoint? Yourself? probably not…in fact, I think that you might just find something pretty special happens. Yes, it might be hard, but it will be worth it, and take the steps above along with you on the way and your bravery will be rewarded along the journey ahead.
Just as we celebrate the winners of any given race, you deserve celebration. Set yourself those goals and when you reach them, celebrate. Tell others, and be proud of what you have achieved. Everyone’s success deserves celebration. You just might inspire someone else.