Dear Future Self,

You’re doing it again.

It’s the night before a big race and once again you’re tossing and turning because you’ve started to doubt the hard work and training. You’re questioning whether you can handle the miles and mountains, and overly concerned about that final long run or the week you took off while on vacation.

This is what you always do.

You doubt. You get scared. And frankly, I’m pretty damn tired of it.

So listen up … and I mean really listen. I know you’ve worked hard and put in the training, and I know you can tough it out when you need to.

How do I know?

Because I know you, for one. And because right now, as I’m writing this letter, I’m committing to the training dedication you’ll need.

I’m committing to time on the track to build speed. To strength training — even though I don’t enjoy it — because I know you’ll be better for it.

Right here, right now, I’m committing to training consistency, and training variety. To trying new routes, high mileage days, and lots of climbing. To running more with friends who will push me. To stepping out of my comfort zone, and to working on the fundamentals.

And I’m pretty sure I’ll cut back on the vegan doughnuts too. No promises.

It won’t always be pretty — you’re not perfect, after all — but I will make you proud.

We cool? Cool.

Now for the pep talk I’m sure you were hoping for …

You’ve got guts. You might not be able to see it through the nasty cloud of doubt, but you’ve got ’em.

So stop comparing yourself to others (I know, I know. Ironic coming from me …), and thank yourself for all the blood, sweat, and hard work. And the tears, there are always tears.

Just by signing up for this race, let alone taking action and getting out there day after day, you’ve proven to yourself that you have guts.

So trust them.

They’ve gotten you through a lot with your running. They’ve pushed you past terrible lows and helped you run through nausea, chaffing, and blisters. And no matter how ugly or magnificent those adventures were, you always made it to the finish line.

If one day you don’t, that’s OK too. It’s just a race — you’ll forgive yourself.

Alright, I know you’re a little scared, so instead of hiding from it, let’s talk about it.

(I think that’s something our Psyc professor taught us to do back in Psychology 101.)

Go ahead and admit that whatever it is you’re about to do is scary (it better be, anyway). Now use that fear just like you have in the past.

Remember when you used it to train extra hard before your first big race? And how it was fear that helped you make smart training choices and dial back when you needed to?

As long as you don’t hide from it, fear has always been your ally. Go ahead … lean on it again. Everything will be alright.

So quit it with that fucking doubting, would you?

You’re a runner, damn it. You can do this.

–  Doug

P.S. – Get some sleep, tomorrow is a big day.



Author Doug Hay is the founder of Rock Creek Runner, host of the Trail Talk podcast, and fanatical about everything trail running -- beards, plaid shirts, bruised toenails, and all. He and his wife live and run in beautiful Black Mountain, NC.

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