The rains were coming down softly. Much as they had all morning. The final kilometre. My left hamstring was on the verge of snapping. And I was reduced to a steely resolute walk. Determined crowd supporters implored me to keep going. It was my first marathon.
I would finish. And I would do so with a flourish. My body coming to life. The adrenaline carrying me through the pain as I sprinted to the line.
In part this was because of the effort of the crowds. Their energy and enthusiasm help us all to achieve our goals and we runners are grateful for each and every one of them. Partly my strong finish was due to my partner’s presence. He had never seen me run before and as we were in the early days of our courtship I was especially determined to appear formidable and athletic. And in part I finished so well because of what I was telling myself.
For all the physical effort that runners expend to finish the race, an equally integral part of a runner’s success is what goes on in between a runner’s ears. When you hit the wall in a race what are you telling yourself? In your heart of hearts are you defeating yourself with negativity? Or are you your own biggest fan?
As an athlete you need to cheer yourself on. If you’re feeling sluggish, you need to tell yourself how fast you are. If you’re feeling tired, you need to tell yourself how strong you are. Unfortunately many runners do precisely the opposite. In panic mode, they allow fatigue to impair their resolve. They bristle at the distance left to go. They tell themselves they can’t do it. And they beat themselves up.
You need to do better for yourself! And after all you’ve done to get yourself to this point in the race you deserve to do better for yourself!
When I start to falter, I tell myself “I know what I am capable of. I know what I can do.” This allows me to focus. It allows me to remember how strong I am and how hard I’ve worked. And it inspires me to fight and make myself proud.
In a race the crowds will cheer for you. Before the race your loved ones will encourage you. But ultimately you are the only one who can get yourself across that finish. You need to be your biggest fan.