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?


14 replies

  1. I think I might have done a little swearing myself, if I heard you say “we’re halfway done.” 🙂 You, my friend, can accomplish whatever you set your mind too. You’ve proved it already with your numerous marathons. When it comes to applying to jobs, I felt the same, when my company closed in 2011 and I was unemployed for the first time in my life. Although I doubted my Excel skills, I continued to apply and eventually, I found the right home. You’ll get there, Geralyn,

    • I may have been the one swearing, Jill. 🙂 Glad to hear you were able to find work after your company closed, being unemployed must have scary. I keep writing about this stuff and know that change is going to happen. Maybe not when I want it to (Now, please) but it’ll happen and it’ll all work out exactly the way it’s supposed to and better than I could have expected. 🙂

      By the way, my friend, the speech pathologist said the kids still get pulled out of class and love it. The other kids get jealous and want to be pulled out too. Funny, isn’t it?

      • Ha ha! That is funny, Geralyn. Thanks for asking her about that.
        Yes, you’ll end up exactly where you’re meant to be…I did…after a lot of praying. 🙂

  2. Doubt is a sneaky booger! It creeps in and tries to get a toe-hold. But you onto something with your running analogy. If you can run in bad conditions, you can do anything. Doubt begone!

  3. Time to go for it! Your mental and physical strength is greater than you realize. Congratulations on working so hard toward your marathon and best wishes and you push the send key and apply for all those positions that seem out of reach.

  4. Wow, I admire anyone who contemplates a marathon. And for those who complete a marathon, or even enter one, I’m completely humbled. The one thing I can say is, that if you don’t take yourself to the start line, I suspect you will pick on yourself unmercifully. The pain of the run will be far less than the emotional divits your inner nag will inflict.

    Every free lance job I take on scares me to death. I think, Who am I to think I can do THIS? I’ll never accomplish this. It’s way over my head….the litany goes on. But each project I take on gets finished and so far, each client has been extremely pleased and complimentary. But I will continue to wallow in doubt as new projects arrive.

    • You’re right about that, if I don’t run the marathon I’ll probably beat myself up. Thanks for sharing your work experience. I guess we all have doubts, just need to push through them. Sounds like you’ve had success despite your doubts.

  5. Oh doubt can be a recipe for sabotage for sure. Training for the marathon I had to constantly push it out of my head. I never allowed myself to think of running the distance as a whole. Tell that doubt to go take a hike!

    • I don’t have any expectations with this marathon except supporting my friend who’s trying to quality for Boston. So, if I have to drop back from her, no big deal. I’ve got to remember that. No expectations = no doubt! 🙂

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