See ya, self-doubt! Always bet on yourself

Words to live by: Always bet on yourself.

If you're not willing to place the bet on yourself, why even go to the starting line? You may as well place your money on someone else and not even show up. If you're going to the starting line, be in it to win it.

I came across this phrase recently and it has become my running mantra. (For more on mantras, check out Runner's World's recent article, "The Magic of Running Mantras" -- great read!,7120,s6-238-244--13819-1-1-2,00.html) I've been working a lot on positive self-talk and this phrase has become my go-to in the middle of tough workouts or when I'm slogging through my second run of the day. Being an emerging elite runner and pursuing my athletic goals isn't easy -- there's many a day when I'd rather watch tv than do my second run, or stay in bed for an extra hour instead of heading out for a hard session. But in order to believe in myself and to have full confidence in my abilities when I step on the starting line, I turn off the Netflix, stop hitting the snooze, and lace up my shoes. I'm doing everything I can so that I can feel good about betting on myself.

But training hard and doing all the little things -- eating right, getting enough sleep, icing etc -- doesn't always guarantee a successful race. You can prepare all you want, but without a clear head on your shoulders, your race is likely doomed from the start. And as of late, my head has been far from clear... I've let my doubts and insecurities foil many a workout and ruin many a race. Knowing the negative thoughts going through my head, there's NO WAY I'd bet on myself for a successful race. And what kind of attitude is that? Well, a crappy one.

After my less-than-stellar performance at USA XC back on February 5th, where I ran great for 3k and then had a pity party for the last 5k, I had a bit of a wake-up call. I realized that if I'm really gonna do this professional running thing, I've got to be all in. I've been 100% committed in many aspects of my life - but in terms of believing in myself, let's just say I haven't been my own biggest fan. This is something I've battled for a while -- over the years I've had many a coach believe in me faaaar more than I've believed in myself. Someway, somehow, I always find a way to doubt myself. At USA's, the doubt won big-time, and it took all I had to just finish the race and not drop out.

But if I'm going to move forward as a runner, I have to leave all that self-doubt in the past. No more feeling sorry for myself, no more negative self talk, no more giving up. I've got to believe in myself, have faith in my training, push through it when my mental toughness wears thin, and run with confidence. As I said, USA's was a wake-up call for me, so in the 2 weeks since the race, I've been working on my attitude and trying to be positive positive positive. 

Toward that aim, I'm making strides -- this week I had an awesome fartlek workout and solid mile repeats. The workouts themselves were great -- an 11 mile day, with 6 X 3 minutes on, 90 second active recovery built in the middle of the run; and 5 X mile repeats with 3 minutes rest. Both days were quality efforts and indicate that I'm much fitter than I was a year ago. But what I'm most pleased with is my mental approach to both workouts. I stayed mentally strong through the very last repeat, maintaining composure and not letting any nagging doubts creep in. I won't go as far as to say that I ran aggressively -- I didn't run like I was going for the win. But I did run with determination, like I wasn't going to let anyone pass me in the final straightaway... and that's a start. 

So for this week at least: Kaitlin - 1, Paralyzing self-doubt - 0. As my brother Brendan would say, "See ya, self-doubt!"