It took me a long time to identify as a runner for several reasons. I incorrectly associated running with speed, success, and accolades. When I ran in high school, I was far from fast. I used to skip the last 400m of my warm up just so that I wouldn’t finish too long after everyone else. I never viewed myself as successful because I never qualified for state championships. And lastly, due to my extremely average and what some might possibly define as below average performance, not once did I receive any accolades.

It took years for me to repair my relationship with running. It’s hard for me to believe that I only started running on a consistent basis less than a year ago. In that time, I’ve completed two half marathons and several shorter distance races. It was only after my second half that I embraced the term “runner”, and I could only hope that running would embrace me back.

Some days, I still struggle with feeling successful as a runner, especially when I run short distances. Whenever I have a tough race or a bad run, I immediately start to question myself. The difference between me doubting myself now and when I doubted myself a few years back is still so substantial. For starters, quitting is no longer an option. I know that no matter what happens, I’m going to get back out there, work harder, and try again. I’ve also identified what motivates me, so I have a go-to routine for whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed and under-accomplished.

I start by identifying my source of disatisfaction, whether it’s a race, a run, or something else in between. I then ask myself what, if anything, I could’ve done better. Next, I devise a plan. This usually includes registering for another race or revising my training plan for an upcoming race. After my game plan is finalized, I take time to reflect and relax. I love catching a yoga class to stretch out my muscles and meditate. After that, it’s go time! 

I love my long runs, but I incorporate many other shorter distances throughout the week to balance my workouts. While my goal for my long run is usually a number of miles, I switch up my goals for my shorter runs to keep them interesting as well. Sometimes it’s speed, but other times, it might be conquering a massive hill. Either way, I ensure that I’m working as hard as I can. When I know I’ve done all that I could do, I feel successful in my own right.

In the past, I grappled with success because I tried to hit the measures defined by others. I never had sense of my own running journey. By getting back in touch with what success means to me, I’ve been more motivated to take chances, set my own goals, and PR. 

Every day won’t be race day, but every day is practice. By practicing how I will eventually perform, I’ve been able to find accomplishment in my rehearsal.

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