When Success or Failure is in Your Head

It’s been exactly four years since the global lockdown we experienced as a result of Covid-19.  Like many people, I picked up several seemingly random hobbies during the shutdown of 2020.  Also, like many people, my interest in those hobbies has waned since then.  However, one hobby stayed with me–long-distance running. 

I started running out of sheer boredom while spending three months at my parents’ house in South Georgia in 2020, but when I came back to Nashville, I decided I would actually start participating in 5Ks. I ran my first race on July 4, 2022 and got hooked.  I’ve run six 5Ks and have learned many lessons about life and myself by doing so, some of which I have shared in previous blogs.  Lately, though, I have been feeling less motivated to continue running 5Ks, so I signed up for a half-marathon.  Oh, the lessons I have learned from this process!  

The most important takeaway I have gotten so far is that success or failure is all in my head.  What I mean by that is if I believe or doubt that I can do something, that’s what plays out in reality.  That seems like such a cliche and simple concept, but I have never seen it translate so literally in my own life until I started this training.  

At the beginning of this year, the longest distance I had ever run was four miles.  The idea of actually running thirteen miles in four months (the race is in April) seemed completely impossible.  I got a trainer, and we set up a running plan.  I would gradually increase the distance I ran every week by one mile until the race.  I may not have believed that I could run thirteen miles when I started training, but I knew I could run five miles because I had run four.  After running the five miles, it wasn’t that hard for me to believe I could run six.  Today, I ran eight miles, and now that thirteen-mile goal doesn’t seem so daunting at all. 

Each time I lace up my shoes, I try to visualize myself at the finish line, and I never think about the entire number of miles that I have to race. I just think about the one extra mile that I have to run, knowing I can do it because of what I accomplished the week before. I am able to go further each week, not just because I’ve been doing workouts and studying running technique, but mostly because I first believe I can run these miles.  That’s the lesson.  The miles I complete in real life are first run in my head.  I only have five more miles to add before the race, and I’m actually looking forward to the challenge with each run until I get there.  

Now, I’m going to challenge you.  What is that thing that seems impossible when you think about it?  I dare you to start believing that you can do it.  Visualize yourself completing that goal or task.  Break it down into smaller increments like I’m doing, or figure out some other way to tackle it.  Whatever your method for accomplishing this task, the most important part is that you really believe you can do it. Just remember, it’s all in your head.