The past 24 hours have taught me a lot about my own mental strength, my resilience, about being ‘enough’ and running…..!
I have come to the conclusion that I’ve been struggling a bit of late. I don’t think I’d realised it or had tuned in to what was going on, but a conversation with a colleague set my mind whirring. What it made me realise was that I had become focused around being hard on myself, beating myself up for not being ‘enough’ and generally looking at my work / life through a negative lens.
Let me set a bit of context here. 12 months ago I had an idea. I thought it would be great to run the Paris Marathon in 2019. I’d never run further than a half marathon so I thought this would be an achievable challenge(!). I roped in my husband and a couple of friends and we were on!
Fast forward to the start of 2019 and my training was underway. Week on week I was slowly upping my distances and feeling good about it. Feeling proud of what I was achieving. Pushing myself further and harder than I had ever done before. I was on track to reach Paris on the 14th April, but then I got ill! A chest infection and a flare up of my asthma 5 weeks before the main event. After a couple of attempts to get back into training after the illness, I had to take the Doctor’s advice and give up hope of running in Paris! I was gutted.
I still went to Paris, watched my friends run and joined in to an extent, but it wasn’t what I’d built up to and I was disappointed. So, on a whim and to cope with the disappointment I signed up for another marathon 6 weeks after Paris, meaning that as soon as we were back I picked up my training again.
Looking back at the past 6 weeks now I can see that I’d lost my mojo. I’d lost my mental toughness. That positive can do, ‘you’ve got this’ approach had got up and gone. Increasing my distances this time around has been tough. Hills that were my friends were now enemies. My inner-critic voice was shouting louder than my inner-champion and I found myself walking more than I had done previously. What I also realise now, thanks to the past 24 hours, is that this has been filtering through to the rest of my life too. Instead of approaching my role at work with a feeling of pride at what I can achieve, I’ve been beating myself up for not completing tasks and not being able to give ‘enough’.
So what then? The so what, is that I’ve done a bit of reflecting. I’ve spent some time thinking about what’s been getting in the way both in my running and at work, and the only thing that has been getting in the way is me and my inner critic. Running a marathon is part physical fitness and part mental toughness and resilience, much like the work environment. Being able to approach things with a positive mindset and a ‘you’ve got this’ approach will carry you through miles in the race and metaphorical miles at work.
Last night I picked up a book: ‘Strong: A Runner’s Guide to Boosting Confidence and Becoming the Best Version of You’ (Goucher, 2018) and one of the little nuggets that I got from the book was a recommendation to develop a mantra. Something to remind yourself of your mental toughness, to help you through those times when doubts start to creep in and something to help you be a bit kinder to yourself. I can think of nothing better to motivate me through my forthcoming 26.2 miles, and to give me the boost of confidence that I need every now and then in the work environment, than telling myself ‘YOU’VE GOT THIS’!!
Becky Flight is running the Liverpool Rock ‘n Roll Marathon on Sunday 26th May.
She’s got this!