Saturday morning, 6:30 am, 11 degrees, snow and ice in patches on roadsides and sidewalks, four of us out for a run. Since we were planning on 17 miles and they weren’t (lucky!), Linda and I parted ways with Kim and Mike at the base of East Rock park. We started our ascent, were told by a woman running down that the road was clear, started counting off the switchbacks as we ran them to the top. Compared to our last run up East Rock this felt a little easier; my breathing was more even, my pace steady. Back at the bottom we ran toward Orange Street which took us downtown to Crown Street. There’s a decent amount of activity at 8:00 am on a Saturday morning in New Haven; we ran past buses, cars, pedestrians, greeted other runners, dog walkers and cyclists.
“We’re halfway done,” I called out to Linda when we had run 8 1/2 miles. I don’t know if she liked the reminder or swore at me under her breath.
Once on Prospect Street we headed home, gauging our distance by familiar landmarks. Somewhere on that long gradual incline, one I run often, I started telling myself I didn’t have to run the marathon, I could run the 1/2 marathon. I told myself I didn’t have anything to prove, I’ve run a bunch of marathons. I told myself I’ve already run NJ marathon, no need to run it again. I started figuring out the logistics; my friends would run the marathon, I’d run the 1/2, shower and get back in time to cheer them over the finish line.
Doubt. It’s the same when I look at job postings. The job title will draw me in but by the time I’ve read all the requirements I’ve talked myself out of applying. I tell myself I don’t have the exact experience. I tell myself I’ve never done that one specific thing (out of the 10 things I have done). I tell myself I don’t have the perfect education or degree even though I have years of experience. Doubt. I recognize it, know it intimately. It tells me things that aren’t true, wants to keep me safe and in my comfort zone. Doubt will whisper in my ear all day if I don’t tell it to stop, telling me I can’t, I shouldn’t, I won’t.
When we finished our run, all 17 miles, I sat on my front porch with Linda for a few moments to catch my breath.
“We’re going to have to run that plus 9 miles more,” I said to her. “I don’t think I can do it.” I’ll be away 2 weekends in March, most likely won’t get a long run in on those weekends. I’m building up my mileage during the week but need the security of a few more long runs under my belt.
Linda ticked off answers to all of my unspoken doubts: the course is flat, no hills like East Rock, it’ll be a little warmer, the snow will be gone, the four of us will push each other along, our target pace is manageable. Linda left and I hobbled up the front steps into my house, on sore legs and achy lower back, repeated my doubts to Bill. He said basically the same things to me that Linda had. I thought about it a little more. I have 7 weeks until the marathon, time for another long run or two. I don’t have to quit before I’ve lined up at the start, don’t have to entertain doubt today. I ran 8 miles with Linda on Sunday, made no mention of my doubts. We made plans for a long run on the 22nd and I’ll go from there.
If I can push doubt away in my running, I can push it away in other areas of my life. Maybe I’ll apply to that job that seems just out of my reach. The truth is I’m a hard worker with a list of skills learned over the span of my career that can be applied to a lot of other work situations.
Anyone else doubt themselves out of taking some form of action?