Ever struggled to call yourself a “runner” or “triathlete” or even “athlete”?
Yep, me too.
When I first started running back in 2004, it took me months to call myself a “runner” - I was only a “jogger” - because in my mind, I associated the word “runner” with a tall, lanky African man running sub-3min pace for 42km in those god-awful side-split running shorts.
And clearly, I didn’t fit that mould!
It’s no wonder many of us - myself included - experience that sickly sense of feeling like a fraud, an Imposter, that we don’t belong or deserve to line up at the start of a race when we adopt such an extreme perspective.
(And if you haven’t done so already, go back and listen to Dr Simon Marshall explain the concept of your Athletic Identity in episode #19 of the podcast - it all makes sense now!).
This week’s guest is also someone who has openly shared her struggle with it too, especially in the lead up to her dream; finishing her 1st 100km ultra-marathon at Ultra Trail Australia in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney in May 2017.
Ness Hartge is an Ambassador for Operation Move (an online community for female runners) but otherwise, she’s just like you and I.
An age group athlete, a busy mum, small business owner and runner.
She’s also someone who struggled to call herself an “ultra runner” despite having already completed 3 x ultra distance events — and hoped she’d finally feel comfortable doing so once she’d finished the 100km race.
But we all know the pesky Imposter isn’t that easily satisfied.
Ness and I have followed each other on Instagram for months - if not a few years.
But one day I noticed the Imposter raise its ugly head in one of her posts on Instagram.
So I pointed her in the direction of a few resources and she went on a process of self-discovery - which she shares in this conversation - in recognising how the Imposter shows up in her life, how it causes her to doubt herself and how she was able to find ways to manage it so she could line up at the start of the UTA 100km knowing that, as an experienced ultra-runner, she deserved to be there.
Ness’ story and experience is a great ‘real world case study’ of how changing your perception of yourself (which Ness did by “writing her story”) helps you quieten the voice of the Imposter so you can get on with the job.
It’s so easy sometimes to stick our heads in the sand and ignore our doubt in the hope it will magically disappear. Or we convince ourselves that with more training, racing and fitness one day we’ll feel ready and “good enough”.
If only it was that easy!
(And if it was, this podcast probably wouldn’t exist!).
A few of my favourite quotes from this episode:
So then I thought…why don’t I…play a story in my head of how it’s all going to play out and you’re going to cross that finish line and you will have done your 100km. So I spent a lot of time driving and running and going through it in my head like I’d already run it. And I think that helped the most because seeing myself in my head cross that finish line got rid of the doubts that I would never make it.
Write your story before you’ve done it. Write your story and play it in your head. So that your mind just can’t think about anything else. It’s already there.
Imagine yourself at the end goal. Imagine yourself there. It will make life easier. Yes the Imposter will pop up but you know you’re going to get there without a doubtI know you’ll enjoy this conversation as much as I did.
Notes and resources:
You can find the Facebook video in which Ness discusses her struggle with feeling like an Imposter in the lead-up to the UTA 100km here.