Battling self doubt

In the last two or three kilometres of my 25.5 km run today, four ugly words crept into my brain: I can’t do this.

These are words that long distance runners must avoid repeating at all costs. I know this. But I was tired, I had been on my feet for three hours in direct sun, I was unwittingly dehydrated, and, I felt defeated.

I had set out to run 26 km today, but miscalculated the distance by a bit, so I had to make up about 1.5 km by doing a short out-and-back close to the gas station where I parked my car. It was torture. My legs wouldn’t work. I was sun burned and tired, and done.

All I could think was, if I feel this way now, how can I possibly run a full marathon?

Now, after a few hours have passed, I know I am simply in thick of training. I have to trust this training and know that every tough run, every longer distance, will help me reach my goal.

I’m realizing now that it’s been a while since I’ve felt the pain of pushing myself to new limits. My first half-marathon was almost four years ago now. This is all normal and good, so I must press on.

I’m still smiling.


Highlights of today’s run:

  • I changed it up and ran outside of Saint John in the Kennebecasis Valley. I ran alongside the majestic Kennebecasis River on flat portions and many rolling hills. The route was actually hillier than I expected. (See my route here)
  • The sun was bright and direct during my run, which started at about 11:30 a.m. I actually got a sunburn. I wore full-length running tights and a light, long-sleeve top over a singlet, but quickly warmed up. I ended up tying the shirt around my waist and it chafed (ouch). It was about 5 C when I left home in Saint John but 14 C by the end of my run… you gotta love unpredictable spring weather!
  • I brought along my fuel belt with one bottle of water, one bottle of sports drink and two Clif gels (chocolate – tasty!). I did not bring enough water, but I can’t figure out how to rectify this…. do I need to buy an annoying belt with four water bottles? Incorporate a place during my run to replenish my fluids? Buy a water backpack? Marathon runners, what do you do?
  • About 13-14 km into my run, I had just tackled (ie walked) a mountain of a hill, and my pace was lagging. I saw some girls playing with a water hose on their front lawn and as I passed, I asked them to spray me down. They laughed and gladly doused me in water. It was kind of funny, and I noticed other neighbours looking on. I’m a goof.
  • I’m questioning if I had enough energy in my body for this run. Maybe our rice/chicken meal last night didn’t contain enough carbs, and maybe too much time had passed since breakfast (eggs/toast/tomatoes) before I started my run. I ate a banana immediately after, followed by a protein smoothie.
  • Also, I stumbled into a local market after my run purchased melt-in-your-mouth white rolls and chocolate cookies. I needed something delicious as a reward.




Published by

April C

Writer, editor and mom in Saint John, NB.

6 thoughts on “Battling self doubt”

  1. 1. If you want to run a marathon and don’t have a time goal, you can do it. It’s all about the desire – and the adrenaline of race day. I was injured leading up to my marathon and for months after it, yet didn’t feel an ounce of injury pain during the actual race.
    2. I had to buy a four-bottle fuel belt when I was marathon training.
    3. I had to eat A LOT the night before and the morning of in order to feel properly fueled. Pasta at night and oatmeal with toast in the morning.
    4. Mental practice is so important. A tough run means you accomplished mental as well as physical training, which is a win-win.
    5. There will be kids with hoses at the Ottawa Marathon too 🙂

  2. April, that route is insane. Good for you. It will pay off in flatter terrain in Ottawa. I, like Molly, had a four-water belt and used it only for those long training runs. In races, I wore it once, but ditched for the others I ran, using the water stations (every water station). You are so close. Keep grinding it out. You got this!

  3. I do recommend the Camelback. If you don’t have any overly aggressive aggressive time goals where the (negligible) weight would matter, it absolutely provides a sense of security. It also allows you focus on grabbing sport drink at every water station during the race itself, since you always have water in tow. For your LSD training runs its even more useful, and you can pack several energy gels into it as well. Get the ones with caffeine and thank me later!

  4. Amazing job by the way…great progress! 😊 You won’t believe it when you complete that 32K long run soon! You will go into the Marathon more confident than you ever thought possible 👍

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