Running 3 miles
I can vividly remember the first time I ran 3 miles. It felt like hell. I was 13 and my school had entered all of us into a 3 mile run in Nottinghill, London. The first thing that happened was all my friends sprinted off and left me behind. After that, everything started to hurt. My lungs, legs, mind and even my teeth felt the pain. I could feel my face getting red and was out of breath as I struggled to do something I'd never done before. It wasn't just the distance I found challenging, there were hills and I was pushing myself to go fast, I felt totally out of my comfort zone.
My Mum has always been there for me. She's been to all my events and continually talks to me about the direction I'm heading in, helping me refine and develop my aspirations and vision for the future. She was there when I finished this run, she was there to pick up the pieces and put me back together again. I feel so lucky to have her support and know she's proud of me. However, she also helps me remember how far I've come and that it's not come easy. She often reminds me:
"Sophie, you know they very nearly had to call the ambulance when you crossed the line..."
Impact of mindset
Fast forward 15 years and I'd signed up for my first Ironman, during which I would have to run 26.2 miles (a marathon). Leading up to Ironman Wales, I had huge doubts resulting from a negative mindset about my running ability and strengths:
"I can't run... I don't enjoy running... I'm not very good at running..."
There was an element of truth to this, my running results were disproportionately worse than swimming and cycling. In August I entered my first Half Ironman, I came in the top 10 for swimming and cycling but dropped 1o places over the course of the run. I ran the 13 miles in 1:52 hrs, it was the furthest and fastest I had ever run.
Yet, the negative thoughts continued; "I can't run, I'm not very good at it..."
I had to work at it, I had only 4 weeks until Ironman Wales.
Running a marathon
Running the 26.2 miles on the marathon section of Ironman Wales was an incredible journey for me. As I came off the bike section I felt exhausted, I'd already been racing for 8:23 hrs. I began with doubts in my mind, "how am I going to do this?" Having run 13 miles before and only once, I had doubts as to whether I could make the distance as well as stay injury free. Luckily, the only option available was simple:
Play the long game and keep going. One foot after another.
The course consists of four 10k loops, uphill for 5k and downhill for 5k. After the first loop and passing my family cheering me on, my confidence started to build "Ok, I've just run 10k, that's an achievement in itself". Another lap passed and I was half way, I was doing it, running this marathon. I didn't stop running, I didn't allow myself to walk on the uphills, the challenge motivated me - I knew I didn't want to cross that line feeling like I could have given more.
I'll share a secret with you: I loved it.
I finished the marathon in 4:33hrs, not bad!
Running 55 miles
The experience of running 26.2 miles and becoming an Ironman gave me a little more confidence to believe in myself and give myself permission to believe that I do enjoy running, that I can do it and am good at it. However, I still have a way to go. I still have those lingering doubts which can all to often lead to excuses not to go running.
In an attempt to motivate myself to run and to FINALLY abolish all remnants of a negative mindset about running, I've created a little challenge for myself.
On Saturday 26th April, I will be running 55 miles from London to Brighton in one day. I've managed to convince three friends to join in the challenge and Brooks are onboard to sponsor and support. It's not an organised event, we're just going to leave home and run to Brighton.
I've been out running more than ever before, twice a week! I'm feeling improvements in my speed and confidence. I feel relaxed and using them to see my friends. I'm motivated and happy, it seems my plan is working!
I'm really excited about the challenge and can't wait to share the journey with you.
A few pics from my recent runs:
My message is this:
- It's normal to have negative thoughts, it's what we do about them that determines who we are
- We are all afraid of failure
- Challenge yourself to overcome your fears
- Feed off your achievements
- Talk to yourself in a positive manner
- Believe in yourself. We are all capable of far more than we think
Through challenging our bodies, we develop strong minds. Use this to your advantage.
Prove to yourself that you can do it, because you can!