We all love working on the things we’re good at because we’re good at them and, well, it feels good! For me that’s the bike (and to a lesser degree but also the swim). I love testing myself whether smashing it up a climb, drilling a hard ergo set, or trying to roll turns and hang onto the boys. It’s my thing.
Running, unfortunately, does not come quite so naturally to me. I still love testing myself, but there’s always some level of trepidation. There’s a limiter sitting subconsciously in the back of my mind, telling me that I can’t sprint, that speed is not my thing. To some degree it’s true; I will never be the female version of Usain Bolt, or even Gwen Jorgensen. Speed is not my strength but I can run.
Of course to reach our potential we must work both on our strengths and our weaknesses. I will happily grind myself into the ground doing rep after rep at threshold, but ask me to run flat out and I get the heebie-jeebies. But doing what I like, what I’m comfortable with, what I’ve done before, will not get me to where I want to go.
With my first race of the season just around the corner we started to add quality run work to my program 4 weeks ago. Having not run fast at all (with the exception of our weekly ParkRuns over summer) since August last year, trying to run even race pace felt ungainly and foreign. I was fit, in fact in the best shape I’ve been in for quite some time, but I was out of practice at running fast.
My confidence was knocked a little by how unnatural it felt to try and run fast again, and a part of me wondered how long it would take for race pace to feel fluid again, let alone the faster stuff we’re adding in with an early season focus on Sprint Distance racing.
I looked at the paces I was being asked to run for one particular bike/run brick session. Fast! Not the sort of brick session I’m accustomed to with race-paced Ks. Now the pace wasn’t extraordinary, they were times that I had run before, but not for a very long time.
I was daunted. It was much faster than I had run off the bike the previous week (albeit a different session). I didn’t want to fail, I was scared I wouldn’t be able to run that fast.
But we’re building. And that is what this time of year is all about. Getting faster.
I didn’t know if I could, or would, but I did know it was possible, so I decided to just unleash and have a crack. To not limit myself by what I had done the previous week. I decided to believe I had it in me, and dared myself to try.
What do you know? Not only did I manage to hit them, I managed to exceed the times I was aiming for!
It gave me a kick, not so much that I was running anything spectacular, but that I had given myself the space to explore what was possible and allowed myself to risk failing in the process. It’s been exciting to carry forth this mentality into my subsequent runs and I’ve been able to continue to surprise myself. I’ve failed too (a somewhat spectacular blowup on the track), and that’s OK, because I know I’m pushing my limits and daring to try.
You don’t need to be overly confident to achieve anything, but you do need to have enough belief in yourself that its possible, and enough daring to try.