Developing Self-Confidence Through Running: How I Found Myself Out on the Road

I was having a conversation with another dailymiler the other day when I admitted to her “When I was little, I just thought confidence was something you were born with, you either have it or you don’t, and clearly I wasn’t born with it.”

I started running in April of 2008. If you ask me why, I couldn’t really tell you. Growing up in Brooklyn, NY I remember watching parts of the NYC Marathon every year and thinking those people were CRAZY. But secretly, I knew I wanted to try it one day. In 2007 – 2008 I met several women who were marathoners, and they were all beautiful, confident, smart and successful. Women who in a way I envied. So one day I just did it, I went for that first innocent run. First it was a half mile, then a mile, then I could run 30 minutes, then I ran 5k after 5k. It felt amazing to be able to accomplish something that I wasn’t able to do two months ago. Hey, look out world! I can run 3 miles whenever I want, where ever I want!

But the real changes didn’t occur until I ran my first Half Marathon in 2009. I was a bit terrified, and more than a bit uncertain I’d even be able to do it. My friends, my boyfriend, heck, even my coworkers knew I could finish, but I just didn’t think I had it in me. I thought I would fail. I had only raced a 5k and an 8k before this. 2009 was the first year I had ever raced. I could spend hours coming up with poor excuses to tell myself why I couldn’t do it.


Samantha G. post Half Marathon

I hardly look like I just ran 13.1 miles!

On May 30th, 2009 I completed the Brooklyn Half Marathon in 2:26:20. I was ecstatic. My mother and best friend met me at the finish line and giving them each a big hug was the best feeling in the world. I was teary eyed and choked up. Something had changed inside of me during all those hours of training and running that I didn’t quite realize right away.

Running has changed my attitude about who I am as a person, and what I can accomplish. With every run I’ve become not only stronger physically, but mentally. Running has given me confidence in every day life. Maybe to non-runners that sounds ridiculous, but there is something about going out there and testing your mental and physical limits that helps you get a strong sense of who you are and what you can accomplish, and what you quickly find out is that your body can accomplish so much more than you think it can, and that fact I find truly amazing. The pain that you push through or those workouts that you’re “too tired” to do but do any way – those just validate that you are a strong person. There is definitely a “runners high” effect–you work out hard and feel the endorphins, but if you analyze what you did, you start to feel even better about it. I ran 6 miles today. Most people I know wouldn’t run that distance in the entire month unless they were being chased by an angry dog, and heck, three years ago I could have never run 6 miles, but I am a better me today because of it.

Mile by mile, I have learned a little bit more about myself, and I’ve realized I’m so much stronger now than I ever thought I would or could be. I’m no longer a timid teenager, but a confident, proud young woman. I’ve also realized that this journey will never be over–far from it. Right now I am in the process of qualifying for the 2011 NYC Marathon (run 9 NYRR qualifying races +1 volunteer) What’s funny is that even last year the thought of running 9 races seemed like so many, and as of April 3rd, I’ll have run my fifth qualifying race.

Will I get my first marathon medal next year?

I am also debating running the 2010 Philadelphia Marathon (I am actually in the lottery for the 2010 NYC Marathon) The marathon scares the crap out of me, humbles me, and I feel some of the same feelings that I felt exactly one year ago when I signed up for my first half. Can I do this? Am I ready mentally to take this on? Why do I want to do this to myself??? Deep down inside I now know if I stick to my training, I can do it. Right? I have no doubts it will be tough, painful, and I’m sure at some point I will question my sanity, but deep down I believe in myself. I can’t tell you how many times I have envisioned myself crossing the finishline. Sweating, sore and aching, dying for the finish line to appear, but just the mere thought of that glorious second when i cross the finish line and 16+ weeks of hard work come to fruition is enough to leave me choked up and teary eyed yet again. There is a part of me that needs to feel that. There is a part of me that is begging to rise up to such a demanding challange. I guess the question now is, what will I learn about myself along this next journey?


The author of this post, Samantha G., is a runner from Brooklyn, NY. You can view Samantha’s dailymile profile here.

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