Like many, I struggle with the imposter syndrome—both in my professional life and my personal life. Someone recently referred to me as a runner, and I quickly laughed and corrected him by saying, “Oh no, I’m just a trotter. People can walk faster than I can run.” Even when inquiring about writing this piece, I did so with the caveat that I’m new to running and might not have much to say.
It’s all about my mindset. To call myself a runner, I need to believe that I am one. So, with this post, I am declaring to the world (but mostly to myself) that I am a runner.
I have tried this whole running thing several times. I’ve followed the Couch to 5K training program at least half a dozen times in the past. However, this is the first time I have completed the program and have moved on to the 5K to 10K training program. So what is different about this time around?
My mindset. My identity as a runner—and truly believing it—is different.
At what point did I realize that I’m not an imposter? That’s not so easy to determine. Was it the first day I ever laced up my shoes and struggled through Week 1, Day 1 of Couch to 5K? Definitely not. Was it after I finished my first 5K? Doubtful. After I experienced my first injury? When I bought my first pair of properly fitted running shoes? Nope, that wasn’t it either.
It happened the day I decided I would be a runner. I didn’t mark it on my calendar or anything, but that’s when things changed.
I once read a post by Fast Company titled 8 Practical Steps to Getting Over Your Imposter Syndrome. The eight steps have been helpful through my #SAfit journey.
1. I had to recognize that I felt like an imposter. (Writing this piece has been a part of that journey.)
2. I stopped dismissing others when they call me a runner or celebrate my accomplishments.
3. My successes are because I am training and have made running a priority in my life, not because of luck.
4. I no longer say things like, “I only ran 2 miles.” I try to avoid words such as only, simply, and merely. (“I ran 2 miles! Go me!”)
5. I am writing down my successes and tracking my progress. I love checking things off of my list, so that has been extremely helpful!
6. Small setbacks that would have completely derailed my progress are now motivators to keep at it.
7. I am proud of how far I’ve come, but I know that there’s more work to do with training. There’s always a PR to beat!
8. I have sought help from the #SAfit community, which has made all the difference!
Running has been therapeutic for me, in more ways than one. Not only has it been a great release for the stress of my work and life, but it has also provided me with the introvert time that I need. In an effort to reach my goal of reading 26 books this year, I’ve grown to love listening to an audiobook while I run. It helps me to look forward to lacing up my shoes and getting out there. Running also helps me to process my thoughts, and trust me, I am someone who needs a lot of time for processing. I have noticed changes in my mood, energy, and body. But the most noticeable change has been in my identity.
I am no longer an imposter. I am a runner.
This post is part of our #SAfit series for May. With the constant hustle and bustle of our profession, we can’t forget to put ourselves at the top of our to-do list sometimes. It is essential that we remember to take time for self care and this series highlights how our colleagues work #SAfit into their lifestyles. This can look different for each of us and your journey is your own. For more info, please see Mandi Stewart’s intro post. Be sure to check out the other posts in this series too!