Today we’re pleased to bring you an article by Jack from Running With Jack. Do you have something to say too? Send us your article!
When is the last time you approached a race feeling totally unprepared or inadequate?
Feelings of inadequacy could perhaps be defined in a variety of ways. For our purposes, let’s say that feelings of inadequacy are those feelings that occur when one feels that they cannot do something that they think that they should be able to do. And, feelings of inadequacy are also those feelings that make one feel that they cannot do something that they in fact are perfectly able to do. This can be applied to the full spectrum of racing, from just finishing to finishing fast.
Whenever we experience a failure in our lives, our minds store the data about the experience, though it does so subliminally. The next time a new experience arises that raises questions about our adequacy, our mind searches the archives and find that same data, and draws a conclusion—that we are inadequate.
Whenever our mind tells us that we are inadequate to a task, we must respond. We each tend to have our preferred reaction. Sometimes, we try to counter the sense of inadequacy by overdoing, e.g. we try to prove ourselves. Sometimes we give up and feel hopeless. We give in to the sense of inadequacy and may even tell ourselves (and others) that we can’t do it, it’s too hard, and so on.
Other times we remain mediocre, we don’t try harder or give up, we just try to do enough to get by (or just to finish). And finally, worst case, sometimes we project our sense of inadequacy onto others, criticizing them for those things that we feel inside as failings in ourselves.
As athletes, I think the key to overcoming the feeling of inadequacy is to learn to trust in ourselves, our abilities and our training. This trust grows as we learn through experience and insight that we really can handle whatever comes up. The more training and events that we successfully complete, the broader the database in our mind will become, and the less likely that we will be overcome by feelings of inadequacy. The next time that these feelings arise before an event, we only need to look at the facts and we will see that we can be, based on how we have handled it in our training or past experiences.