Ever wanted to run a 5k? Or a marathon? Or even be able to run? Then keep reading as our gorgeous collaborator Hannah the Runner gives us her pearls of wisdom and speaks earnestly about tackling the difficult task of believing in yourself…

I want to talk to you about self belief and I’m going to start by revealing my own biggest insecurity.

When I meet someone new and they ask “what do you do?” I always, always have a moment where I brace myself before I tell them “I’m a running coach”. I worry that people will look me up and down and then say “you can’t be”.  They never have, but the fear persists.

I don’t think I’m alone in feeling like this. I’d like to bet that most people, at some point in their lives, have had feelings of self doubt. It could be because you think you don’t look right or sound right; it might be because you feel you lack qualifications or experience. Maybe it stems from long ago being told by someone that you weren’t good enough.

Now logically I know that I’m a running coach. I’ve got a little card from England Athletics that says so. I’ve helped more than 200 people to start running with beginners’ courses, and supported them, and many others, to take on challenges from 5K to marathons. I’ve got glowing reviews on the interwebz and most of my runners find me through recommendations from friends. On top of this I’ve run four marathons and enough half-marathons that I’ve lost count, and yet still I fear that people will look at me disbelievingly.

So when we get a message from someone who’s seen our Couch to 5K course advertised and really wants to do it, but is worried that even though we say anyone can run that they will be that person that it doesn’t work for, I understand their self doubt. Or when somebody wants to join our Bath Half training but thinks they’ll be too slow for the group, I know where they’re coming from. I also know that the people who are brave enough to say “I want to but I’m not sure I can” are only the tip of the iceberg. For every person who contacts us there are a dozen others who don’t even dare get in touch.

“Whether you believe you can or you believe you can’t you’re right”. I don’t know who originally said that, but they’re spot on. If you stand at the bottom of a hill and tell yourself it’s too steep to run up, it will be too steep to run up. But if you stand at the bottom of the same hill and tell yourself that you’re going to run to the top, you will.

The strongest, most resilient, most powerful part of your body is your brain. Imagine this scenario… if you were 26.2 miles from home with no car or bike or public transport and your child desperately needed you, you would cover that marathon distance – running, walking, crawling – whatever it took you’d do it.

Now I’m not going to ask you to get off the couch and run a marathon. That would be pointless, deeply unprofessional and potentially dangerous. But what I would love you to do – if you want to – is to push outside of your comfort zone a little bit. Make 2019 the year that you do the thing that scares you.

Ask yourself what you’re actually afraid of. Failure? As long as you try you’re not failing. Ridicule? That’s not going to happen. We have a tribe of coaches and runners who are rooting for you. Trust that we understand your doubts and fears. We won’t belittle them, but we will tell you truthfully that if we can, you can. I don’t think the secret to believing in yourself lies in mantras and affirmations. I believe it comes from simply not being afraid to try.

So rather than telling you to “believe in your dreams”, I would ask you to stand at the bottom of the hill and say “I can run up this”, and then do it.

Wow, talk about motivating! If Hannah has inspired you to tick off the marathon that’s on your bucket list then get in touch with her. Find out more about her running groups here.

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