Self Doubt

My thoughts for Shamrock have drastically changed since the beginning of the year.  Until reflecting upon my performance at the Lake Effect half, I was gunning for a PR at Shamrock.

I was ready.

Yet realizing that there are only 3 weeks in between the races I don’t know if my body could recover quick enough.  It took me just over a week to recover for training.  After about a week I was able to hold similar paces with the same effort.  In order to improve, you must either train a little bit harder or have a better day.  I’m honestly not sure if I could have a better day than Lake Effect right now.  The course for Lake Effect was perfect, flat and fast, nice weather conditions and I was pretty pumped.  There was a slight wind but nothing to make me say OMG this wind is horrendous.


After thinking more realistically, I began to realize that my body might not be ready for a PR yet.   I think I need more time under my training belt.

Although thinking back, my fastest 3 half marathons (the Nike Women’s half 1:24.49, The Shamrock half 1:25.15 and the Lake Effect half 1:25.32) were all surprises to me.  I was never expecting to PR in any.  I have found my best races have always come when I have less expectations.  This leads me to the main point of the post.

I am a big self doubting runner.  I find myself wondering what I truly am capable of.  I wonder if my training has prepared me.  My mind is always questioning whether I am ready for a race or not. 

Is it because I’m not always confident in my abilities as a runner?  Maybe.

I have always lacked confidence as a runner.  There are very few races that I am 100% confident I am going to PR in.  Leading up to a bigger race, I never know what my body is truly capable of.  I wonder have I done enough training?  Have I done correct training?  I seem to always question myself and wonder how the race will go.  I think as runners or who humans we can all relate to questioning yourself at some point (whether workout related or not).

I try and remind myself of things that I’ve done and can’t do now.

I remind myself of the training runs I’ve done when I haven’t wanted too.

I remind myself of the previous races I have excelled at in this training cycle.

I remind myself that second guessing my abilities will not get me anywhere.

I remind myself that running more miles or harder miles are not going to positively affect the race. 

I guess my biggest motivation is this.  I remind myself that after a good or bad race, I am still the same person.  My life will go on and my family and friends will still love and care for me all the same.  I remind myself that running does not hold all the marbles in my life.

As I head back to Virginia today I have time to reflect on training and get ready for an exciting race.  Maybe it will be a PR, maybe not…If not I will regroup and continue training.  My life (or yours) is not built on a single moment.  You have many more moments and we have many more races.

Questions for you:

What do you do to build confidence? 

What is your next goal race?

While Shamrock is a big deal for me I also have two more half marathons in the Spring.


  1. Good luck! I have also never PRd in a race that I expected to PR in- they have always been surprises. I strongly feel that some days are just really good days and even with the best training you can wake up and feel like going directly back to bed. Sometimes those are the races/runs where you prove to yourself that you are strong even if it isn’t a PR!

  2. You already think that you’re not sure if you could have “a better day than Lake Effect right now”, that’s actually having a positive because you’re taking the pressure off yourself.

    You’ve probably run your best races as surprises because you run well with no pressure(?). So if that’s the case, this might sound stupid but look forward to the next major goal while running this race, realising that the current race is only a temporary goal rather than an end goal.

    But then again, you also ran with pressure at the Lake Effect half. It was the culmination of your eating disorders campaign, this massive awareness that you built the whole race around! So I would draw confidence from both and say that you know how to run in both high and low pressure situations now 😉

  3. self doubt is a plague I struggle with too, duh. All i can say is just run this race and see what happens. that is how i need to approach all my races

  4. Good luck!! I trust my training. I like to think that helps boost my confidence. Saturday’s race, I am not expecting a PR due to my hip. If I do PR, awesome but if I don’t, I am still the same person and always proud of myself for finishing.

    1. Good luck this weekend! RnR correct? It’s always one I want to do but I don’t want to run back to back RnR and Shamrock and don’t want to miss Shamrock…so many life struggles.

  5. Best wishes Hollie!!! I’m also sending you speedy vibes all the way from Florida!!! Safe travels to Virginia chica and no worries, you are going to do amazing I’m sure. And you are not alone in the self doubt department, I am constantly fighting with “Negative Nancy” screaming in my head especially on race day. But you have put in the work and you’ll do great. And remember, even though your fund raising efforts are over, Ophelia’s Place and what it represents still holds a deep place in your heart I’m sure. So run with that special cause in your heart and I’m sure you’ll run smoothly much like at Lake Effect. Run fast, run free, run with your heart!!! I’m pulling for you Hollie!! 🙂 My next goal race really isn’t until September by the way.

      1. Eh’ I’ll do my best to send that warmer weather haha lol. My goal race is a little small town under the radar race called the Healthy Start 5K. I’d like to PR there. I have all summer to train for it and it would be a great start to my season to PR there.

  6. Good luck on your half marathon!
    I know that I definitely struggle with self doubt. When I go into a race thinking i’m gonig to do awesome (ie. the half I ran in Feb) I don’t. I get in my head too much and the negative thoughts take over and win. When I PR, it’s usually a surprise to me too!

  7. Yes, to all of this. I’m very competitive, not with anyone else but with myself. I don’t get jealous at all when others get better times than me but l do get upset if I feel like I could have done better. I put a lot of pressure on myself and that’s something I’m working on

  8. self-doubt runs through my veins–in all that I do! you have such a positive outlook on it all though; whatever happens at Shamrock you’re incredibly right…theres always more training & more races =)

  9. I’m not a super confident runner either. I think it’s natural and if you’re really confident you’re going to hit your goal, maybe you aren’t aiming high enough? I try to set goals that I know are going to be very challenging, but still in the attainable range.

    I have a lot of doubt for the NJ Marathon next month. I just don’t think this is going to be my race. I’m not there yet.

    Anyway, I think you’re going to kick ass this weekend!! I’ll be cheering!

    1. Even if it’s not the race of a lifetime, you have so many more (as do I what I am trying to remember here). Either way I cannot wait to cheer for you there and hangout this weekend!

  10. I totally understand the self-doubt here – I go through the same thing every race, and sometimes I’m right. You’ve ton a ton of running and had an awesome race, so it would make sense if you didn’t PR. That being said, you are your own worst critic. Decide if your body can do it, and the commit. No more second guessing, just prep like you will! That’s what I have to do for the 100k. I signed up, I more or less followed the training plan, I will do it.

    Granted finishing a race is much different than PR’ing, but I think you know what you can do. And no matter what happens, you’ll still be my running hero. 🙂

  11. I can totally relate. I think I’m a big self doubter too.

    Just last week I ran 14 miles on Saturday. I have a half marathon this Saturday….I feel like I’m questioning whether or not I am ready. I have already ran 2 halfs this year. I just ran 14 miles. I can do 13.1, right?

    I feel you girl, I totally do. Why do we do this to ourselves??

  12. A beautiful outlook on yourself, darling. I believe that how we view our own performances, whether it be in work, relationships, or running, those views reflect heavily on who we are as people. I don’t mean that in a judgmental sort of way, either. You seem open to opportunity and advancement, and quality of performance, and you seem FAIR about it and yourself. That’s pretty frickin’ awesome in my book. With that being said, self doubt sometimes leads to shocking the hell out of yourself. You do your best. 🙂

    I too look back on my own achievements and try to remember how I felt, what I was going through at the time, and what steps lead me there. Those thoughts are usually my biggest motivators.

    I do have a stinkin’ half the first weekend of May. I am finally back to a more-than-sporadic schedule, but I might have a small kickback next week. *le sigh* Hoping for a full by the end of the year that will (literally?) knock my own socks off.

  13. I can relate, as can all runners to an extent. For me, I realize that, come race day, I make the choice to continue worrying about what all I didn’t do, or could have done better, or just enjoy the day. So I attend the expo and let the atmosphere get me excited for the race ahead. I play a lot of really high energy music and just enjoy the fact that I made it through training to reach race day. I don’t let my goals slide out of view, but I don’t dwell on them. I already know what my goal is so I don’t need to spend any more time going over it. Hopefully, no matter how the race goes, I enjoyed the experience.

    This sounds all la de da – I do take training and competing seriously, it’s just that I also want to enjoy the opportunity I have to run and I try not to let the worry take over.

  14. I can so relate to this! I have struggled so much with self confidence as well. My PRs haven’t always been surprises, but the times I have ended up running in each of those races have been much faster than I was expecting. Then, sometimes I think I’ve got a PR in the bag and I crash and burn. I think it’s easy to struggle with confidence in running because how we feel changes so much each day. A long run can feel awesome one week and miserable the next, or paces that are easier than expected during speedwork one day are near impossible the next. That unpredictable nature is a big part of what shakes me up about trying to PR! You just can’t predict what the day will bring sometimes.

  15. You are going to rock it out! Can’t wait to see you, PR or not 🙂
    I build confidence with each race I put under my belt. Such a huge feeling of accomplishment.
    Shamrock is my next race, but after that, Crawlin Crab Half Marathon is a chance for redemption and learning from the mistakes of training for Shamrock.

  16. I’ve been working on trusting my training. I went into my marathon not knowing what to expect, so I really needed to remind myself that I followed my plan (mostly) and I was prepared and then to stop thinking about it and just do it.
    I’m still learning how I need to approach a race, so a lot of this is just gaining experience and learning from one race to the next.

  17. With your last half only 3 weeks before this one, I think a PR would be tough… it doesn’t mean you should doubt yourself at all, your times are incredible and you are definitely a top runner. So no doubts! Your body needs time to recover, and like you said, you need to push your training to improve, how exactly can you do that in 3 weeks, considering recovery time and some tapering time.

  18. I think one of the challenges with running is that we do so much training that we want something (a PR) to show for it. We also know that there are so many things that can prevent a PR – the weather, injuries, not enough recovery time, just not feeling great, etc. I think it’s important to know that you’ve done the work and that alone is a huge accomplishment and what you should be proud of. Know that you are absolutely capable of a PR but that we all have days where it’s just not in us for one reason or another and that doesn’t mean that we have failed.

  19. Mm yes. This is me too ha. My best races are always the ones where I go in with little expectation/wondering how it’s going to go if it’s a new distance….which is why I’m trying to do that for most if not all of my races this year. I want to enjoy them and not be mad because I didn’t get the PR I wanted or finish as well as I expected to. Having said that, I’m still training for a PR in the pittsburgh half in May with a local half in two and a half weeks to see where I am. And it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if I PRd the local race and didn’t do as well in Pittsburgh since that’s how life goes at times haha. As long as I finish both with a smile, I’ll be good. Good luck at shamrock hun! Wish I could be meeting up with you but hopefully next year!

  20. Good luck! Whether or not you PR, you’re still awesome!!!

  21. I’ve also found my best races are the surprises!

    I also have learned that each race is so different and there are so many factors going into performance that it doesn’t make sense to define my abilities or my self worth based on a race. Like you said, running doesn’t hold all the marbles!

    Good luck and have fun at the race! You are an inspirational runner regardless of your PR 🙂

  22. I love this and it’s very appropriately and timely for me, as I’m running a 10K race on Saturday (also called Shamrock, hehe… they are all called that this time of year it seems like, though! That or green or leprechaun). Regardless of performance we all train hard and work hard… even sometimes we do not want to. The most satisfying thing is toeing the start line and knowing you have truly done all you could and the best you could with your training, considering all other obstacles of life and running that we face.

    As much as I’d love to finish my 10K in 44 minutes and get into the “competitive seed” division for a large 10K we have here, I’m not a professional runner… but I am a professional at something else (writing, my career) and a wife, daughter, friend, etc.

  23. As I have mentioned before I am training for my first half and that has become my motivation. People have asked me if I have a goal for my race and my response is to run the whole thing without having to walk, which I know I can do, but I don’t want to focus on a time because then I am worried I may burn out. So I just keep thinking slow and steady wins the race, just want to keep my pace of 9:15 per mile.

  24. Self confidence is something that I’ve always struggled with as well… I’m definitely my own worst enemy, and I feel like I miss out on a lot of great opportunities just because I tell myself that I won’t be able to do something before I even try it. I think some of that is pride and fear of failure though… Like… so what if I don’t do well at something? The world isn’t going to come crashing down and I’m not suddenly going to become a horrible person. I like what you said about not putting all your marbles in one bag… There will always be other things going on, and one bad race doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot in the grand scheme of things. I still think you’re going to rock it, though 🙂

  25. You are doing all the right things Hollie, all those things you remind yourself of are exactly what you should be doing! It is actually better to go into the race with realistic expectations, then you are happy either way. You are tough and will race when it comes down to it,, so let the results take care of themselves. You will be fine 🙂

  26. Yet again, I totally relate to one of your posts. This training cycle especially, I’ve battled some serious self doubt. Granted, I’m happy with my fitness level now, but do I feel ready to race in four weeks? Absolutely not. Nailing those key workouts helps build confidence, though.

  27. This may be a new favorite post. Not that you have doubts but it shows that no matter how fast or how slow, the runner brain is similar in all of us! As a middle of the pack running, I wonder if I’m the only one questioning myself. I wonder if that will go away as I get faster. I think this makes you (me) human!

  28. This. is exactly what I needed to read right now!

    I have a race day after tomorrow I was always intending to run not race, considering it’s at altitude, in the desert, and I will be sending the preceding two days hiking.

    On a test shake out run this morning, I realized the pace I though would be easy WONT be easy and I am really going to have to scale back if I want to enjoy it.

    Whatever happens at Shamrock, I hope you enjoy it. Lord knows you’ve done the work, no matter what happens, it won’t be because you weren’t prepared. Good luck!

  29. YES. Hollie- that mindset is absolutely amazing- just simply being aware that there are other races and other PR’s which you can hit.

    Personally, I try and use my personality to hide my lack of self confidence which can be a double edged sword- more often than not. I consider myself a work in progress.

    PS- You are amazing. (I will tweet you why).

  30. I have been the self doubting runner and have had some runs where I let myself get “in my head” too much then was miserable! you make a great point about running without expectations, most of my PR have been surprises too and I remind myself that when I first started racing I had no PR and was so proud just to finish! I try to keep that same mind set; there are so ma you factors outside your control for each race anyway, and I’d hate to let the disappointment of not running my best race take away the fun of the overall experience (crowd, costumes, music) that got me hooked on running in the first place!

    Have a blast at your race this weekend! I’ve ran shamrock before and love the finish line party on the beach! 🙂

  31. You can do it Hollie. Trust in yourself and your training. You know you have done all of the work and are prepared. You past race proves that. You should not doubt any ability to PR. I always memorize the splits for 5k 10k and 10mi of the my goal range so I know where I am at at those points. I don’t worry about the miles in between splits bc I think it’s too much stress to worry every miles. I ran 4 halfs in 2 months last sp/su and dropped 2+ mins between each. Albeit I was out of shape for the first but PRd in the last. Went from 1:32 – 1:24. Believe in yourself! Good Luck!

  32. Personally I think you have it in you this weekend– but if it’s a crappy day or just not your day… well you have plenty more races ahead of you! I’m incredibly proud of how far you have come and can’t wait to see you do even more.

  33. Wow I can completely relate to this! I always doubt myself… and ask myself a lot of those questions you wrote… I think I am slowly getting more confidence though that just comes with more racing and experience. You’re amazing… Believe you can do it and you’re half way there! 🙂

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