So you’ve just started running, you’ve downloaded the couch to 5k app on your phone, dusted off your old trainers and taken your first tentative steps out the door.
It was hard at first, but you started to get faster, you stopped dreading your runs and actually started looking forward to them. You started to feel like a ‘runner’, you even entered a local 5K race.
Race day approached and you felt nervous, this was it, the culmination of months of hard work. Would you be happy with your time? Would everyone have a better kit? Would you be last?
Race day, you line up at the start and the air is full of deep heat and nervous chatter. The gun goes and you are off. You are surprised at your pace, how you are being pulled along by your fellow athletes. You can’t believe how much faster you can run when you’re pumped full of adrenaline.
You finish, much faster than you predicted and you’re presented with your medal, you are riding high on a wave of euphoria. You did it, you trained for and raced a 5K, you did it and you have the bling to prove it. Filled with pride, you take a medal selfie and post it to your Instagram.
The next day, a little sore but still on a high, you scroll through your Instagram feed. You see some of the people you follow ran marathons yesterday, some did 100-mile cycles, and one is even plotting a channel swim. You put down your phone and look at your medal again, it appears to have lost some of its shine. Your 5k no longer feels like the same achievement, self-doubt creeps in and you feel like a fraud.
Stop right there, go back and look at that medal again, YOU earned that, you got up when the rest of the world was sleeping, you missed after work drinks, bedtime stories, you said no to that extra glass of wine. You did it, it’s a huge achievement and you should feel very proud.
Remember this is just the beginning of your journey. Those marathon runners would have cut their teeth in a 5k race just like yours. There will always be someone out there who can run faster or further, but you don’t see where they have come from and where their journey began.
The only person you should ever compare yourself to is ‘old you’. Look how far you have come. Look at you setting goals and smashing them. You are incredible.
Don’t stop scrolling on social media, be inspired by your fellow athletes, look to them for advice, offer your congratulations and encouragement and learn from them. Just remember, they are not your competition, look in the mirror, that’s your only competition.
Most importantly, please keep posting your progress and proud medal selfies. It’s people like YOU that inspire ME the most. The hardest steps you ever take in running, are the first few and I remember just how hard they were. I love to see new runners fall in love with my sport and remind me of the reasons I fell in love with it.
Keep going and see you on the start line